If you’re like most of us, when you see an article about how to keep your online accounts secure, your initial response is “Ugh … I know this is important, but it’s so much hassle. I’ll deal with it later.” [click/delete]
We at Chicory Wealth deal with online financial accounts every day. We get the hassle and fear factor of securing them – we really do! But hang with us for two minutes, because we promise that the information we’re providing here is as quick and hassle-free as we can make it. And, as you correctly thought, it is very important. Just as you learned long ago not to leave your wallet sitting out on a restaurant table when you run to the restroom (we hope you learned that!), the tips we provide here can and should become second nature.
- USE STRONG PASSWORDS. You likely have many online financial accounts — for your bank, your credit cards, your retirement accounts, and more. These accounts may seem as if they’re floating around in a cloud somewhere, but they represent your real assets and need real protection, just like your wallet. For good or ill, that means strong passwords. Rules of thumb include using multiple characters like letters, numbers, and symbols and no obvious words or dates; remembering that longer means stronger; and not using the same password for multiple accounts. You should also periodically change your passwords, but be aware that if you use our Client Portal (see #2 below), whenever you change your passwords, you’ll also need to update those passwords to the accounts you have linked in the portal. I know what you’re thinking right now: “How can I possibly keep track of all those passwords?” Well, you can keep writing them down and hiding the paper inside your copy of Shakespeare’s Works, but you can also use programs like Last Pass or other password managers. Will you have to put a small chunk of time on your calendar to set this up? Yes. Will you from then on realize how easy it is, wish you had done it much sooner, and be infinitely more secure? Yes and Yes and Yes.
- CHECK YOUR ACCOUNTS OFTEN. “What?!” we hear you protesting a mile away. But wait – this is not as hard as it sounds. If you’re a client of Chicory Wealth, you have access to our Client Portal, where you can monitor ALL your accounts in one spot. Skimming through the transactions often doesn’t take long, and you’ll quickly notice if anything is amiss. If so, immediately contact the institution where the suspicious transaction has occurred. The sooner you deal with anything fishy, the better. If you’re one of our clients and not using the portal, contact us so we can help you set it up. If you’re not a client, you can always check your transactions through each of your online accounts, and we recommend this. Or better yet, how about contacting us for a free initial meeting to see if we’re the firm for you?
- SAY YES TO EXTRA SECURITY. When you’re given the option, YES, use two-party verification (if a new device tries to log into your account, it will need an extra code delivered to your phone or other device); YES, answer those annoying security questions (you should try to remember your mother’s maiden name anyway); and YES, if you’re using a public WiFi like in a hotel or coffee shop, don’t log into your financial accounts, or at least use a VPN application like Hotspot Shield.
There’s more you can do, but we promised you quick and easy. If you have questions about the information in this article or anything else related to keeping your accounts secure, please ask. That’s why we’re here! Our job is to understand these issues and help you navigate this complicated system. But we need you to do your part too, even if it takes a bit of effort, because it is important. Always floss your teeth, make your bed, and keep your accounts secure. Okay, we don’t care if you do the first two, but definitely do that last one.
Wallet photo above by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.