Step 99: Protect your Money Online

Step 99 of the 100 Steps Mission to Financial Independence: Protect Your Money Online
Step 99: Protect Your Money Online

Having money is one thing, but making sure you keep it and don’t lose it on dodgy scams or to people getting access to your accounts is a whole different thing. Now that you can access your accounts via the internet pretty much 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world and from any device you have, it has also become significantly easier for those with bad intentions to gain access to this money if they want to. This steps looks at ways to protect your money online to minimize the risk of you money being taken away from you.

Keep money in accounts with verified or associated accounts access only

Many savings and investments accounts already offer this option, which essentially means that you can’t access your savings or investments directly and instead requires you to transfer money into a regular checking account first before being able to get access to your money. That regular account needs to be validated first when you set up your savings account and it means that others even if they gain access to your savings or investments account, can’t just divert the money into non-associated accounts, but to verified accounts only.

Choose difficult passwords and change them often

Most people have very weak passwords with their pet’s or children’s names, they don’t change their passwords very often and they tend to use the same passwords for several accounts, which makes it them easy target for fraudsters to try to hack. Make sure to choose difficult passwords and change them often. One way of doing this is by using a password manager that lets you store complicated passwords so there is no need to remember each one. Examples of password managers include LastPass, KeePass and OneSafe. When using these password managers you only need to remember one master password to get access to all your other ones. You can use a very difficult one by keeping a long string of random characters saved somewhere of which only you know which chunk(s) actually represent your real password.

Use Two Step Verification

With two-step verification you can only get access to an account if you know both the password to the account AND have a unique security code generated at random that gets sent to your phone. This means that fraudsters with bad intentions need not only know your log in details, but have access to your phone as well in order to gain access.

Be aware of warnings from your accounts and banks

Pay special attention to warnings sent out by your bank to inform you of phishing emails (people trying to get log in details of you by tempting you to click on certain links or downloading a programme). Banks and account managers often alert their customers of new methods used by internet criminals and it is worth making sure you keep up with the latest warnings and be aware of new tricks that are used and perfected by online criminals continuously. Also remember that banks never ask you for log in details and passwords so if you ever receive an email requesting these, make sure never to send on any personal data like this.

Enable email notification for unexpected actions

Opt in to receiving notifications for specific actions in your account. This means that every time you log in to your account, you log from a new device or when you change your password, you get a notification sent to you by email or to your phone. In this way you immediately know when somebody else is gaining access to your account.

Check your accounts regularly

Checking your accounts regularly was already mentioned in step 91 – check your balances daily – and apart from making you more aware of where your money is going, it can also alert you to any suspicious or incorrect movements in your account. With that of course, the sooner you act, the more damage can be avoided if others have indeed got access to your money.

Don’t use public WiFi accounts or computers to access your accounts

Public WiFi accounts are not protected and scammers can get access to your accounts easily even if passwords are just temporarily saved by the website you are accessing. Avoid logging into money accounts on anything that isn’t a protected or safe WiFi account and definitely make sure never to use public or shared computers to log in.

Use a different email address to log in

By using a different email address to log into bank sites etc. you avoid others from knowing your actual email address. This means you still have your regular “public” one that you use to correspond with friends etc. but to log into any accounts you simply use a different one. This separate one would furthermore be the one to which lost password retrieval links would be sent to etc. making it far more difficult for criminals to work out your email and therefore gain access illegally.

Step 99 – Protect your Money – in detail

  • Look into a password manager. There are several free and paid options available, so compare them and find which one might suit your needs best.
  • List every online account you have and one by one go through the following steps:
    • Enable two-step verification
    • Consider changing your contact email to a new one that is completely random and nobody knows about.
    • Change the password (especially if you haven’t done so for a while). If you are using a password manager, get a random password generated.
    • Check notifications are sent every time you log in, log in from a different device or when money is moved out of the account.
  • Implement the following habits:
    • Never again ignore warnings and notifications sent out by your bank, but read them carefully
    • Check your accounts regularly
    • Don’t use public WiFi to log into your banking accounts anymore.
    • Never download suspicious files, don’t install programs you don’t trust and avoid clicking on links that look dodgy.

The internet as well as data protection laws evolve continuously and new security features are released regularly to stay ahead of the game, but of course it is only a matter of time before scammers circumnavigate those new features. Make sure that you take any necessary precaution you can in order to avoid being a victim of online scammers and hackers.

Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.


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