Why it’s more important than ever to protect your financial info

The recent scandal at Wells Fargo has left many consumers uneasy. When over 5,000 employees were fired for stealing from customers, it makes you wonder, “How secure are my finances?” Meanwhile, data breaches at major retail chains like Target and Home Depot aren’t uncommon, making shopping almost seem dangerous. It’s critical, then, that we take extra steps to monitor our money. Here’s how:

Watch your account activity

It sounds obvious, and yet it remains one of the most important ways to protect yourself. Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly and make sure there are no unusual transactions. This rule especially applies if you recently shopped at a store that experienced a data breach.

Check your credit report every four months

Technically, you can only access a free version of your credit report once a year. However, there are three credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). So if you time it right, you can order a free report every four months or so. Watch for any unfamiliar accounts and contact the creditor to dispute inaccurate information.

Set up alerts

If you bank online or through an app, many companies let you set up alerts, which can help you detect fraud as soon as it happens. Messages via text or email can alert you to significant or unusual account activity. Whether it’s a large withdrawal or your credit card balance rises above a certain level, you’ll get an immediate notification.

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