Safeguarding Your Finances: A Guide To Protecting Yourself From Fraud

(BPT) – In today’s digital age, the growing portion of our lives taking place online has led to an increased risk of fraud. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. In fact, 2023 was the worst year ever for scams, causing people to lose $10 billion according to the FTC.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you need to panic! New technologies are helping protect individuals from scams before they even happen. And by taking a few simple steps, you can ensure your transactions and personal information are kept secure.

Here are some best practices you can adopt to safeguard yourself from fraud:

Keep Your Devices Updated:

One of the fundamental steps in fortifying your defense against fraud is to ensure that your devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers, are running on the latest operating system and software updates. Developers regularly release security patches and updates to address vulnerabilities, and by keeping your devices up to date, you minimize the risk of falling victim to known security loopholes.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Online Shopping:

Public Wi-Fi networks, while convenient, are hotspots for potential security breaches. Cybercriminals can easily intercept data transmitted over unsecured networks, putting your sensitive information at risk. It’s advisable to avoid making online purchases or accessing your financial accounts when connected to public Wi-Fi. Instead, use a secure and private connection, such as a personal hotspot or a trusted home network, to conduct sensitive transactions.

Use Your Smartphone’s Digital Wallet:

Your smartphone’s digital wallet isn’t just super convenient, but it’s also a more secure way to pay. By setting a unique passcode (that isn’t your address, birthday or phone number) and biometrics (such as facial recognition or fingerprint), your digital wallet will be even more secure than your physical one! Also, be on the lookout for enhancements to wallets that will provide even more features to keep you secure, including by letting users verify identities and manage their data all in one place.

Shop at Reputable Vendors:

When shopping online, it’s crucial to stick to reputable vendors and well-known e-commerce platforms. Be wary of unfamiliar websites that may lack the necessary security measures to protect your personal and financial information. Look for websites with secure payment options, indicated by “https://” in the URL, and familiarize yourself with the vendor’s reputation by reading reviews from other customers.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication:

Enhance the security of your online accounts by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring users to verify their identity through a secondary method, such as a one-time code sent to their mobile device or email. This additional step makes it significantly more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access to your accounts, even if they have your login credentials.

Zero-Liability Has Your Back:

Financial institutions that issue Mastercard cards won’t hold consumers responsible for “unauthorized transactions,” provided they are promptly reported and the cardholder used reasonable care in protecting the card from loss or theft. As a Mastercard cardholder, Zero Liability applies to your purchases made in the store, over the telephone, online, or via a mobile device and ATM transactions. With protections like that, paying with your card brings more peace of mind than paying with cash or check.

Mastercard has an entire suite of solutions dedicated to fighting fraud and helping approve genuine transactions. That includes identity solutions that validate you are a genuine person; ID Theft Protection, which provides proactive monitoring and resolution of identity theft threats for U.S. Mastercard cardholders; SafetyNet, which leverages AI and machine learning to detect and address fraud more accurately and more quickly than ever before, and more.

Protecting yourself from fraud requires a combination of awareness, vigilance and proactive measures. By keeping your devices updated, avoiding public Wi-Fi for financial transactions, choosing reputable vendors, using multi-factor authentication and paying securely with your card, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities. Stay informed, stay cautious and take the necessary steps to fortify your digital defenses in the ever-evolving landscape of online security. Learn more about all the ways Mastercard protects cardholders at https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/personal/get-support/safety-security.html.

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