It seems that news of cyber-attacks are making headlines daily, with large companies being targeted as well as their clients. In the wake of these alarming headlines, it’s especially important to reinforce security around your financial details, if not to achieve some sort of personal peace of mind.

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There have been many high profile cyber-attacks in the past few months, from the controversial, widely-publicised breach at AshleyMadison.com to Apple, whose software is renowned for being extremely difficult to hack, experienced its first ever large scale attack in September. There have been further serious problems: Samsung has been the subject of an attack by Chinese hackers and Experian, the credit referencing company who holds millions of personal financial records, experienced a breach which saw hackers steal 15 million US data records. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods and cyber-attacks are not going to be going away any time soon, so everybody needs to know the best practices necessary to protect their finances against crime online. Below are some ways you can protect yourself against cyber crime.

Review And Monitor Your Statements

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It is quite likely you review your credit and debit card statements once a month when they come through your door, but best practice instructs that you should check records at least once a week to make sure there’s nothing fishy going on. A lot can happen in the 30 days between receiving statements so keeping a regular eye out for suspicious activity may make all the difference. Review your bills weekly and investigate anything questionable immediately.

Sign Up For All Available Alerts

The majority of banks and financial service providers offer apps with real-time notification services that give you immediate news of any suspicious activity within your account. With this in mind, you should ensure all notifications are switched on and also, as a precaution, have purchase limits on your cards. These will help you monitor your spending and keep an eye out of anything unusual.

Make Password Changes The Norm

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Strong passwords are essential for protecting your financial information. Your banking app and online banking website often ensure you have a very secure passcode setup, from 4-letter PIN codes (different from your card PIN code) to passwords, keywords and questions to be answered. This being said, you still need to keep things as secure as possible: passwords which involve addresses, birthdates or anything recognisable as close to you or your family can be risky. The best passwords combine upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and should be changed regularly.

Remember Private Means Private

Your personal financial details should be kept private, which you probably already accept and know but how often do you remember this in practice? It is absolutely essential you never share any financial information with unsolicited callers, whether via email or any other means, and new websites should always be checked for their security (look out for a closed lock symbol at the top of the page). Web addresses which begin ‘https’ are generally considered the most secure and you can feel comfortable sharing your financial information here, if needed for a purchase. Unfortunately cyber criminals have become adept at conning even the most tech-savvy people so it is important to be vigilant and never let your guard down.

There are ways and means of getting additional protection for your accounts online: in this article for FinTech magazine FusionWire (powered by Misys), Digital Shadows co-founder James Chappell explains that his company can “help [customers] work out, first, whether information should be out there in the first place. If it’s not, we can help them to work out how it got there, and how they can tidy it up.” Protecting your finances against cyber criminals is a mixture of common sense but also being prepared to react if something untoward is discovered.

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