February 26th, 2013
4 Ways to Keep Your Money Safe
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Next week is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). While that doesn’t sound very exciting, it is very important to protect yourself, your family and your finances from would-be identity thieves. (Boo, thieves!)
Here on the Credit Karma Blog, we’ll be sharing a few helpful tips on how you can protect yourself.
First up, how to keep your money safe.
Secure your online accounts.
It should go without saying, but making your accounts difficult to hack is a must. Each one of your online accounts should have its own, unique password. Follow these guidelines for how to create one.
And don’t keep your passwords on a sheet of paper or in your email inbox. (What if someone hacks into your email?) Instead, use a service like LastPass, which can generate secure passwords for you and keeps all of your passwords locked safely away.
Check your accounts regularly.
It’s not a bad idea to log into your online financial accounts daily. Set up a calendar reminder to check your accounts at a certain time each day and bookmark each login link to make it even easier on yourself. If you install the LastPass extension on your browser, you can choose to have your login credentials automatically filled in.
When reviewing your accounts, go through your balances as well as new transactions. Mentally check off each purchase you—or your joint account holder—has made. If you see something strange, contact your bank’s customer service immediately to put a hold on your account and dispute the transaction.
Shop safely online.
Buy only from secure websites, like those verified by TRUSTe. And stick with online retailers that you trust.
When you can, use a virtual credit card number or a prepaid virtual card. Virtual credit card numbers are created for one-time use to keep you from having to submit your own credit card number, though the purchase will still come through on your card. Both Discover and Citi have options for this, for example. Other companies offer a prepaid card that you can add a balance to using your actual credit card. Visa uses a service like this through Entropay.
Use credit over debit.
Logging into your online banking account and finding fraudulent activity on your account is the worst. But if you used a credit card, you probably have a better chance of disputing the charge. Credit cards typically offer better protection against fraudulent charges than debit cards.
According to federal law, your liability on a fraudulent credit card purchase is capped at $50, while purchase liability on a debit card usually depends on how long it takes you to report the fraud. If it takes you longer than two days, you could be liable for up to $500 of the fraudulent charges. This also depends on your card issuer, however, so make sure to read that fine print on each of your cards so you know your rights and benefits.
Want more information? Check out the NCPW Consumer Topics. And stay tuned to the Credit Karma Blog for more on how to protect yourself.
Bethy Hardeman is the Social Media Manager and Writer at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco. Say “Hi” on Twitter: @bhardeman.
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