How do I protect myself financially?

Money safety & security tips

There are too many ways that dishonest people or a few businesses may try to take your hard-earned money away. Think about what sort of scams or frauds you’ve heard about. Have you ever been a target of one? How do currently protect yourself against fraud, scams and identity theft? There’s a lot to learn about how to protect yourself financially – whether on the telephone, on the Web, at the store, or wherever your daily activities may take you.

Home and Online Security

Tips for Keeping Your Finances Safe

Be wary of strangers you allow in. Keep sensitive data, credit cards, and checkbooks out of sight.
Safely store copies of your driver’s license, credit cards, car registration, I.D. cards, etc.
Shred old and unnecessary financial documents, statements, and unwanted credit offers.
Don’t send personal information such as account numbers, credit card numbers, or PINs via email.
Select one credit card with a low credit limit to use for all your online purchases.
Immediately after you make a Web transaction, completely close your browser.
Store your new and cancelled checks securely.
Turn off your computer when you’re not using – don’t leave it in “sleep” mode.
Never download files or click on hyperlinks in emails from people or companies you don’t know.
Install a firewall, virus protection, and spyware on your computer and update them regularly.

ATM, Debit and Credit Card Security Tips




At the ATM

Be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Avoid using an ATM in out-of-the-way or deserted areas. Use ATMs located inside banks or supermarkets in well-lit areas.

If someone has tampered with the ATM, don’t use it. A criminal may have attached a “skimmer” to steal your financial information. If a suspicious person offers help with an ATM, refuse and leave.

Put your money and ATM card away before you leave the ATM. Always avoid showing your cash.

Always verify that the amount you withdrew or deposited matches the amount printed on your receipt. Shred or destroy your ATM receipts before your throw them away.



Deal with loss and theft

Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately to the issuing card company and report a lost debit card to your bank.

To respond quickly if your cards or ID are lost/stolen, make a chart that lists the credit card name, the financial institution, the account number, and the 24-hour customer service number. Be sure to store the list in a safe place. Never carry it with you.


Care for your card

Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

Keep cards away from magnets; they can erase information on the cards’ magnetic strip.



Treat cards like cash

Protect cards as if they were cash – never let them out of your possession or control.

Don’t leave your credit cards in your car’s glove compartment.

Don’t lend your cards to anyone, even family or friends. You are responsible for their use.

Always be sure to take your ATM card out of the ATM.




PIN safety


Never write down your PIN, especially on the back of your card.

Memorize it. Don’t write it down and carry it with you in case your wallet is ever stolen.

Never tell anyone your PIN. No one from a financial institution, the police or a merchant should ask for your PIN. You are the only person who needs to know it.

When selecting a PIN, avoid picking a number that is easy for others to guess – for example, your name, telephone number, date of birth, or any combination of these.

When entering your PIN at the ATM or when making a point-of-sale purchase, cover the number pad so no one near you can see your PIN. Change your PIN from time to time.




When shopping

When shopping, be sure that you get your card back after every purchase.

Ensure sales vouchers are for the correct purchase amount before you sign.

Keep copies of your sales vouchers and receipts in a secure place.

Don’t volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card.

Don’t put your driver’s license number on your checks.

Review your statements regularly to ensure there are no suspicious charges.

Contact your bank immediately if you see a charge you don’t recognize.



     NHS is a 501 (c) (3) HUD approved nonprofit housing counseling organization. Services are provided free of charge. Partners include the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HomeFree USA, Florida Hardest-Hit Fund, Pinellas County Community Development, and the City of St. Petersburg. Hands on Banking (Money skills for life), a financial education curriculum provided by Wells Fargo as a public service, was a source for this article.



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