These days, it’s more important than ever to keep your financial information secure. Fraudsters are finding new and increasingly deceptive ways to illegally access it. That means it’s essential for your teenager to start developing good habits as early as possible. Here’s a short list of things your teen should keep in mind to stay safe while shopping.
Keeping your financial information safe from third parties is an important skill to practice. As a parent, it's probably second nature by now to take precautions while doing things like entering your credit card information online, or covering your PIN while using an ATM. But does your teenage son or daughter know the ropes as well as you do? Chances are, they only know what they've learned by observing your day-to-day routines. They'll need your guidance on how to keep their information safe.
With recent events such as the Equifax breach, online fraud is top of mind. But that doesn't mean thieves are going to limit their methods to stealing credit card information online. For that reason, let's divide the following financial security tips into two categories – online and in-person.
- Don't give out passwords. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it's important to stress this to teens: you should never give your password to anyone, not even a trusted friend, for any reason. If you have trouble remembering your passwords for more than one site, a password manager like LastPass or 1Password can do that for you.
- Verify any contact you receive from a financial institution. Did you get a call or email from someone claiming to be from your financial institution? Did this person want you to provide any personal information? If you're unsure who the person actually is, hang up the phone, or don't return the email. Instead, take the contact information to your actual financial institution and ask an associate to verify it was them.
- Take extra caution when using public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks might be convenient, but tread carefully – an unsecured connection can be an easier place for someone to steal your information. Use these networks only for things like reading the news and your favorite blogs, and avoid things like logging in to online banking or making a transaction that involves entering your credit or debit card information. If possible, opt for “semi-open” public Wi-Fi instead. These networks can be found at retailers that give out the password on their receipts, for example, instead of giving them out freely or not having a password at all.
- Put the “S” in “security.” No matter where you're using the web, pay attention to a small detail before you make any kind of financial transaction. Look for the website to start with “https://” instead of “http://”. The “s” indicates the connection between the two computers is secured, and will scramble messages so that third parties can't read them. If you don't see this on a site that's asking for payment information, take your business elsewhere.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. A practice known as skimming is becoming a more prevalent practice with thieves. Skimming is a form of tampering with an ATM or card reader to steal consumer data. This could involve the usage of a hidden camera to capture your PIN as you enter it, or a device that sits near the magnetic stripe and reads your card as you swipe it. The ATMs and card readers with a skimming device often look like nothing out of the ordinary. Be mindful when using these, especially those you're using for the first time. If possible, only use ATMs in well-lit areas that aren't heavily trafficked at night, such as those at a Neighborhood Financial Center.
- Cover your PIN. For the same reasons as above, keep one hand over the other as you enter your PIN at an ATM, gas pump, grocery store checkout, or any other place where inputting this information is required. If there's a built-in shield around the keypad, even better. As we discussed above, be mindful of your surroundings and use common sense when approaching these areas.
- Never give your PIN to anyone. In addition, BECU will never ask you for your PIN. If you get contacted by someone claiming to be from BECU who asks you for any kind of sensitive information, do not comply and contact us immediately.
As we've said before, keeping your financial information safe from third parties is an important skill to practice. The earlier you start teaching your teen these skills on top of good money management skills, the better off they'll be when using their accounts. If you haven't already, help your teen set up an Early Saver* savings account and/or a Checking account.
*Must have a parent or legal guardian on account. If you are under the age of 13, you must enroll in person or by mail.