If you are inclined to take advantage of the sales this year, with the holiday shopping season starting early, it’s the season to be extra vigilant about your personal information.
More than 91% of American adults have put their personal data at risk at some point this year, according to a new report from Bankrate.com.
Don’t Make These 5 Money Security Mistakes
The report, which was commissioned by Bankrate.com and administered by the Data Research and Analytics Group YouGov, explains what some of these security errors are.
In addition to identifying the issues, I’ll share some tips from Team Clark and financial expert Clark Howard on how to protect yourself.
1. Reuse your passwords online
Reusing your password online is the most common security mistake, according to the report, with 80% of survey respondents pleading guilty to doing so.
And 45% admitted to having saved passwords on a computer or phone in the past year.
Do you find it difficult to remember all of those passwords? You’re not alone, and Clark says that a password manager to store and manage your credentials online can come in handy.
“While there have been issues with some password managers, they’re still better than using the same password on multiple accounts,” he says.
2. Saving your online payment information
The report also says that 39% of those polled said they saved payment information on a computer or phone.
Most of today’s most popular Internet browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, allow you to store your payment information online.
Here are two reasons why you shouldn’t:
- It could open you up to hackers: All the data you store online is, at least in some way, vulnerable, and hackers are constantly developing new ways to access people’s data.
- This can make impulse buying a lot easier: It’s not so much about security as it is overspending. The convenience of one-click shopping can be too great a temptation to resist.
3. Use public Wi-Fi
The report states that 36% of those surveyed said they used public Wi-Fi.
Many public establishments allow you to easily connect to their Wi-Fi networks, and in some cases you don’t even need to connect. Here’s what Clark says about public Wi-Fi.
“Like so many people today, I have unlimited data on my cell phone. I also have the privilege that my cell phone has an unlimited access point. Unless I’m at home or at work, where I think I can trust Wi-Fi, I operate from my own access point so that I don’t put myself in a position where I might be exposed and vulnerable.
4. Don’t shred your rejected mail
23% of those who responded to the BankRate survey said they threw away or recycled sensitive mail without shredding it.
The truth is that not shredding your mail can lead to identity theft (thieves can snoop in your trash cans).
Before shredding these papers, make sure they do not contain any timely correspondence or sensitive documents that you really need to keep.
5. Publish your date of birth on social networks
The report says that 15% of those surveyed posted their birthdays on social media, which is a big no no matter how many wishes and likes you get!
One thing Clark is adamant about is not to allow crooks to easily steal personal information online. When you post your date of birth on Facebook or Twitter, that’s exactly what you are doing.
“If anyone knows it’s your birthday and how old you are, when they take your full name and date of birth – oh my gosh – there’s so much information [online] that becomes available, ”says Clark.
Check out the full results of Bankrate’s Internet Safety Survey.
Once the crooks steal your personal information, not only can they cause big financial problems, but these problems can also negatively affect your credit score. This is why Clark strongly suggests that you freeze your credit so that crooks can’t exploit it when the worst happens.
Want to learn more about the proactive steps you can take to protect yourself online? Here’s how to protect your identity on the Internet.