How to Keep Your Finances Secure in 2019

fintechThe advent of financial technology and digital banking has presented consumers with both benefits and threats when it comes to ensuring their financial security.

While accounting and budgeting features, generated by your spending data, can help you plan for the future, the very same data can make you vulnerable to financial scams.

This article explores the challenges of this new banking ecosystem, with up-to-date insights into how you’ll be able to best protect and nurture your money into 2019. If you’re aiming for an economic position of certainty and stability, the advice presented below will be invaluable in steadying and maintaining your financial life.

Take Stock

It’s always wise, before instituting a new method of financial management and protection, to take stock of your current circumstances. Whether you enjoy a large pool of cash in your bank account, or you’re forever dipping in and out of your overdraft, the same rule applies: evaluate your finances and the institutions that help you manage them. You’re looking primarily at:

– The bank, savings account or building society that you’re with, and the benefits they offer.
– Any investments or assets that you may have in your portfolio besides banked cash.
– Your other financial interactions – with insurers, brokers, mortgage providers and loans companies.
– Your spending habits, projected earnings, and thus your overall financial health.

You’re certain to find, when investigating your overall financial world, that elements of your current system are sub-optimal. Let’s take a look at what you can do to make your finances more secure and profitable going forward.

Achieving Optimal Finances

By no means unique to the digital age, ensuring that you’re getting the optimal bang for your buck, and the additional benefits that can be extracted from partnering with certain financial institutions, is important in guaranteeing your financial security.

While most financial service providers offer insurance, protection, and other key services that help their customers feel safer, many also operate with hidden fees, high-interest rates and other potentially damaging downsides in the small print. It’s your responsibility to compare financial institutions to extract the best possible deal.

You should always be prepared to move to a new provider should they offer an incentive, better protection for your cash, or more reasonable rates in their small print. The switch service, provided by financial bodies, makes swapping across banks a doddle – maintaining your current direct debits and standing orders.

Digital Age Scams

As quickly as regulations are put in place to mitigate them, new scams are emerging in the digital age that can hoodwink even those long in the tooth when it comes to managing their finances. While being with a bank that offers excellent security protocols and money-back compensation is important, it won’t necessarily mean you’re not left out-of-pocket should you encounter a scam.

Your first responsibility here is to be aware of certain rules that will help you and your financial details remain safe, private and unhackable. With these under your belt, you’ll significantly reduce your vulnerability in the face of emerging scams. For instance, you should:

– Never send your bank details through digital messaging without ensuring they’re secure
– Never log in to your online banking from a public computer
– Ensure your passwords – even for your email address and social media – are changed frequently
– Check your bank statements methodically to check for any dubious activity
– Always make sure you can totally trust those who you give your financial details to
– Be aware of common scams – like those on social media or delivered to your email inbox

Your digital security is your responsibility, and it pays to be diligent when it comes to all of your online accounts – from Instagram through to PayPal – in order to limit the risk of your being exposed to a digital age scam.

Check Your Credit Rating

One of the best ways to check your overall financial health is, of course, to check in with your credit rating. If nothing has changed in your spending habits, your debts, or your financial activity, your score should remain more or less stable. An alteration in your score might indicate that your finances are not entirely under your control.

But it’s not your score that’s the most telling indicator that can be accessed through your credit score provider; you’ll also be able to comb through your financial report in search of suspicious activity. This might express itself in payments, or new accounts opened in your name, that you’re not aware of or did not perform. Being on top of your financial security and aware of any changes / suspicious activity is vital in today’s digital age, and it’s never been easier to keep track.

If you do find that your finances are being tampered with, it’s imperative that you report this immediately to the financial institution concerned, and to the fraud branch of the police. Keep your correspondences saved so that you can build a case to have your money returned to you if you are, indeed, a victim of financial cybercrime.

Think Twice When Paying Online

It was once incredibly easy to track one’s spending and to feel that one’s finances were secure at all times. You would withdraw a certain amount from the bank, and spend it from your wallet. Or, you’d use a credit, debit or prepaid card to make payments that you’d be able to track easily through your bank statements.

Nowadays, payments are far more fragmented. You might pay through your smartphone payment app, from a digital bank, with a provider such as PayPal, or on a website whose payments provider you’re not aware of. As more and more shopping heads online, it’s crucial that consumers are aware of the risks they take each time they enter payments details onto websites that they have come to trust by default.

That’s not to say that you should diligently research before each and every payment – clearly that’s impractical – but it is important to think twice before paying for products or services online. Hundreds a day are misled on the internet to believe they are purchasing something from a reputable dealer only to find that they’ve been misled by a website that’s run by cybercriminals. A little more vigilance can go a long way to guaranteeing your financial security.

As we move into 2019, digital age scams and well-versed cybercriminals are becoming ever-more difficult to spot when shopping online or transacting by new means. This article aims to expose points of weakness in your own financial behaviour, in the hope that you’ll be able to reduce your vulnerability and increase your financial security as a result.

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