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Keeping Your Information Safe Online

How to protect your identity and your money

Life is becoming more digital, and people are becoming more comfortable with doing business online. Finances are no exception, so keep these tips in mind when you bank online.

Practice spotting a scam

By now, most of us know about scams that ask you to send money to a prince in a foreign country or to click a link for a free vacation. But as we get smarter, so do the scammers. Email phishing, phone scams, and other tricks are out there to catch you off guard. Stay prepared by:

  • Looking for spelling and bad grammar in emails
  • Avoiding links in an email if the message seems suspicious
  • Questioning (and reporting) threatening or persistent phone calls where the caller asks for your information, especially if you didn’t call them first

The better you get at spotting a scam upfront, the more likely you’ll avoid being a victim of identity theft or credit fraud.

Change your password to a passphrase

What is a passphrase and how can it help keep you safe using online banking? A passphrase is similar to a password, but much easier for you to remember—and harder for cyber attackers to figure out (unlike a single password). Passphrases can be a series of random words or a sentence. The more characters your passphrase has, the stronger it is.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Sustain-Easily-Imprison
  • Time for tea at 1:23

What makes these passphrases so strong is not only are they long, but they use capital letters and symbols. Also, make sure you don’t use the same password for online banking that you do for social media or email accounts.

Shred important documents

Sometimes being smart with your paper documents can actually help keep your financial or personal information safe online too. Think about IRS tax forms that come your way at the beginning of each year. They contain a lot of important information about you—enough for a cybercriminal to try and open bank accounts in your name or hack into an existing account.

By simply shredding these files, or safely digitizing them, you can avoid big problems later down the road. Work with a qualified tax advisor to better understand which documents you need to keep (and for how long), and the best way to dispose of them when you no longer need them.

Use a secure online shopping checkout system

If you’re a big online shopper, you want to make sure that the credit card information you’re giving to online retailers is not stolen. One of the best ways to keep your card number safe is by using Masterpass or Visa Checkout. Not only is it a convenient way to shop, you also get the protection of the credit card issuer’s security capabilities. According to Visa, Visa Checkout’s fraud volume as a percentage of sales was 63% lower and its fraud count as a percentage of transactions was 56% lower than non-Visa Checkout volume at top Visa Checkout merchants.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a fancy way to say it’s better to confirm your identity twice before being able to sign in to online banking. For example, not only would you need to enter your password or passphrase, your bank or credit union would also send you a text or email confirmation number to your registered device.

Bottom Line

For even more tips on how to stay safe online, check out these tips from the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. If you suspect you’ve received a fraudulent call or email from someone pretending to be from United, don’t respond. Instead, call United directly to report it at (888) 982-1400.