It’s unfortunate that fraudulent financial scams and identity theft account for billions in stolen funds each year. In some cases, they can cause real financial turmoil to those who have done nothing wrong. Criminals prey on the weaknesses or mistakes of their victims for personal gain, and while it’s easy to think it will never happen to us, we’re just as likely to fall prey to those difficulties as anyone else.
That’s why it’s important to prevent this likelihood as much as you can. Thankfully, with good personal and financial practice, you can be much more likely to avoid the common pitfalls associated with financial fraud. But what would that look like in practice?
In this post, we’ll discuss several easy measures you can use to offset some of the most common vulnerabilities. If you bake them into your daily habits, you’ll be more protected than just a one-and-done measure.
Let’s explore how you’d begin such a venture:
Strengthen Passwords & Use Two-Factor Authentication
Ultimately, rotating your passwords (ideally every three months but certainly each year) will help you keep your accounts safer than they could be. Don’t use the same password for everything – a good trick is to use the brand name or its initials in your password from service to service. So for example, if your common password is “SmithFarm112” you might change it to “SmithFarm112@Google,” and then change it for the respective service.
It’s also good to use passphrases that are easy to remember but harder to brute force, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests using options like “MargaretThatcherIs110%Sexy,” although, of course, you could use something more in line with your taste. Moreover, make sure you have two-factor authentication enabled, preferably sending codes to an offline app like Google Authenticator instead of an SMS code, as that’s more secure.
Monitor Bank & Credit Card Statements Regularly
We tend to think of only fraud or scams being a great big heist as if your identity and bank account would be drained at the same time. This can be the case of course, but it’s hardly the only option. Monitoring bank and credit card statements can help you identify charges that you may not recognize, and this can be taken up by your bank.
You can also view your account activity and login info on a range of accounts, from your email provider to your internet router. It will help you identify unwanted traffic, and take measures to protect against it.
Be Mindful Of AI
A bold new world of fraud is upon us, and it’s concerning. AI can be used to replicate voices and increasingly faces, and we can expect this to become a very difficult issue as time goes on. From impersonating your elderly relatives to tricking you on the phone, it’s important to be diligent about who you speak to, and even have a hidden phrase you can use to verify the person you’re speaking to.
Remaining mindful of AI utilities or photoshopped letters and false emails can allow you to withstand social engineering just a little more. We’d also recommend educating your elderly family members about these issues, as they’re much more likely to have familiarity with modern tech and its consequences.
Use A VPN When You Can
General internet encryption has been improving as of late, but if you regularly use public WiFi, roaming data, and more, having a secondary layer of protection can be a great idea. With options like VPN for iPhone, you can more readily toggle on security when and as you need it.
This can help encrypt your traffic and mask your IP, which also helps you avoid being tracked. On top of that, you’ll be able to change your internet region at will, meaning you could access content that you might not usually be able to – like television series only available on a certain provider’s regional service.
While a VPN isn’t necessary for light internet browsing or those who won’t implement essential measures like online banking, most of us are a little more involved than that, and having these utilities on hand, especially in professional contexts, can be a smart decision to make. This can also help you prevent your internet traffic from being spied on by those with technical knowledge and unfortunate intentions.
With this advice, you’ll be better able to avoid financial and identity fraud. While we can’t prevent 100% of threats, we can certainly improve our safety and make ourselves such a hard target that the criminals who attempt it will look elsewhere, and hopefully become caught.