5 Best Ways to Protect Your Account

Every day a new scam targets innocent people. With every successful scam, the victim has their identity stolen or account information compromised. Protect your account with these tips.

1. Do not tell anyone!

Giving out your account information to anyone puts you at risk. The account holders are the only people who should have access to your account. Do not give usernames or passwords to anyone else. This includes family and friends. Even if they are trustworthy people, it is best practice to keep the information secret.

2. Use strong passwords

A password is the first line of defense to keep scammers out of your account. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s also best if the password is more like a passphrase. A passphrase is a string of words combined. The longer the passphrase, the less likely someone can get into your account.

3. Turn on multistep authentication

This is the second line of defense to keep scammers out of your account. After you log into your account with your username and password, multistep authentication kicks in. It is a secondary login screen that will ask you to verify your account by sending a temporary access code to the phone number or email on file with the financial institution. In theory, the only people who have access to your phone or email is you! If a scammer gets access to your username or password, they will be stuck in their tracks if you have multistep authentication turned on.

4. Monitor your account regularly

Being aware of what is happening to your account is a great way to defend it. If you do not recognize a purchase, you should call your financial institution immediately to figure out why it is there. From there, they can help dispute the charge and put a stop pay on future transactions from that vendor. Once a stop pay is put in place, this deters scammers from trying again.

5. Recognize the signs of fraud

Scammers try to get sensitive account information out of you through phishing, vishing, and SMishing. When you get an email, call, or text that just does not feel right, look for these signs that it is a scam:

  • Misspellings or typos in the message, especially in the financial institution’s name
  • Urgency in the message – If the message asks you to respond within 24 hours or there will be a consequence, contact your financial institution directly. Scammers will ask you to respond quickly to make you panic and make a poor decision.
  • Ask for money to receive a prize – First of all, if it is a prize, you should not need to pay for it. Second of all, this is how scammers can easily get credit/debit card information.
  • Ask for account information – Your financial institution has your account information on file and does not need you to provide it. If you get a call asking for this type of information, it is likely a scam.

Following these tips will put you in a better position to combat scammers and avoid fraud. If you ever come across something suspicious, contact your financial institution directly.