FDIC-ensured bank accounts typically cover up to $250,000, so you probably feel like your money is secure within these banking institutions. However, a single hacker can drain your bank account and leave you with a serious headache as you piece your financial life back together. If you understand the current schemes and hacks these digital thieves run, you can take action to protect yourself. Here’s a look at the most recent scams hackers use and how to safeguard your finances:
Conceal Your PIN
A simple way identity thieves can steal your debit PIN is with infrared technology. When you use a card reader at a store and enter your PIN, the next person in line could take an infrared picture of the keypad. The heat from your fingers linger on the numbers you pressed and could give them your PIN. Even though they would still need your name, they are one step closer.
Infrared cameras used to cost thousands of dollars, but now they can be found for a couple hundred. Furthermore, a company by the name of FLIR makes smartphone cases with built-in infrared cameras, which are sold at Apple stores.
Fortunately it’s not difficult to protect yourself from this type of attack. When you enter your PIN, lay your extra fingers over some of the other keys on the pad. The heat from your fingers will then transfer over an assortment of keys and make your PIN more difficult, if not impossible, to guess.
Protect Your Identity
Federal law proclaims that any money stolen from you bank account will be reimbursed as long as you file the loss with your financial institution within 60 days of the incident. However, this guarantee comes with a caveat: You cannot have put your account at risk in a foolish way. Some of these risks include providing your bank, credit card information or Social Security Number over email or text.
Even if you are careful with your personal information, though, you cannot completely eliminate your chances of identity theft. This is why a identity theft prevention service like LifeLock is an important tool. LifeLock monitors your bank accounts, lines of credit and your SSN.
Be Aware of Open Wi-Fi and Bluesnarfing
Open Wi-Fi networks are risky due to the volume of users on them. A savvy hacker can access your mobile device through the network unless you take strict measures. For example, don’t enable sharing options on your computer when on a public or open network. Make sure your antivirus and firewall are enabled. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like CyberGhost, which creates a private network on top of the open network by running your connection through a remote server in another state or country. If hackers can’t see your computer on the network, they can’t gain access.
A bluesnarf is when hackers scan the area for Bluetooth-enabled devices and pair their devices with your own. This takes a special software the hackers might have written themselves. Of course, if you don’t have your Bluetooth enabled, you can’t be bluesnarfed. You also can set your device’s Bluetooth as invisible, which decreases the chances of bluesnarfing, although it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk.