Although bank accounts are naturally designed to be secure, that doesn’t keep hackers from doing everything they can to find loopholes into accessing your sensitive information. And now that it is easier than ever to access your accounts from anywhere on any device, it’s especially important to be proactive about protecting your bank accounts.

Here are five ways to help protect your information from cybercriminals and other threats.

1. Never engage with unprovoked messages.

One very common way that cyber criminals attempt to access sensitive information is by sending emails or making phone calls that ask you to verify your information, such as your username and password. They may claim that there is a problem with your account, there has been fraudulent activity, you’ve overdrawn, or you need to verify a purchase.

Important note: Banks and financial institutions will likely send you notifications when these types of issues actually arise, but they will never ask you to confirm your information directly (such as responding to an email or providing it over the phone). Instead, you will be informed to login to your account through the secure app or website to review the activity. Never provide your information to someone claiming there is a problem with your account, even if the email looks legitimate.

If you can’t tell if an email is legitimate, do not click any of the links. Try to determine legitimacy by looking at the email address itself (not the sender’s name, which can be customized) or reading the fine print. If you’re still unsure, login to your account separately and double check that everything looks good. Do not provide any information to someone who calls you unprovoked over the phone. Only do so if you called the institution yourself.

2. Use unique passwords.

If you use multiple bank accounts, it’s important to differentiate your passwords for each and update them regularly. When a cybercriminal accesses one password, it makes it much easier for them to access other accounts, especially if the passwords are the same.

It can be difficult to manage many passwords. Here are a few things you can try when protecting your bank accounts:

  • Create a base password and add to it. Use a mix of letters both upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using any personal information in your password (birthdays, names, etc).
  • Use a password manager that securely stores all your passwords with one master password.
  • Select security questions that do not include information that could be easy for a hacker to find. Avoid the street you grew up on, your high school, or your mother’s maiden name. If these are the only options, get creative with your answer.

3. Use two-factor authentication.

Almost every platform that requires some sort of personal verification offers the ability to turn on two-factor authentication. Not only will you need your username and password, but an additional form of identity, such as a one-time code or security key sent to your mobile device. Without access to your mobile device, it would be much more difficult for a hacker to get in, even with access to your credentials. Two-factor authentication can be turned on for every single login, or for certain actions such as a login attempt from an unfamiliar device.

Another great way to set up two layers of protection is to utilize the features offered for mobile banking. For instance, some banking apps allow users to login using a fingerprint or facial recognition.

4. Stay on top of software updates.

When mobile devices, computers, or internet browsers notify you of available updates, it’s important to take action. Most software updates include upgrades to security, encryption, and privacy protection. While it can be easy to dismiss those updates, it could put you at a greater risk of data theft. Hackers are always looking for security holes to wiggle through.

5. Ask questions!

Putting these measures in place is a great way to stay diligent about protecting your bank accounts. Whether you’re choosing a new bank or already have one, knowing what security measures are in place is important. Most institutions provide this information online, or you can call your banker and ask for more detailed information. If you’re wondering what security measures we take for our customers at Republic Bank, reach out to us at 800-526-9127 — and be sure to check out our other financial tips online!

Copyright © 2021 Republic Bank of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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