In a day and age where everything can be done online, managing your finances couldn't get any easier. With the onset of green delivery systems, paper statements are becoming less and less frequent, especially as you can now analyse your finances from the comfort of your own home, using the magic of the Internet.
However, with increasing development in online technology comes the associated malicious activity and, unfortunately, people all over the world have to deal with identity theft, fraud, malware and phishing scams daily.
While the Internet is a convenient and useful tool, knowing how to use it properly is essential to stay safe. Having financial awareness is vital – whether it's your personal finance or business money matters you need to manage – and online resources are at your fingertips. Being secure during your time online can help you to stay safe and protect your identity and your assets.
Make sure that you check your credit rating with a reputable credit rating provider regularly, so that you can analyse your spending and credit behaviour, and also check to see if anything is out of sync. If you see anything that is at all untoward – an transactions that you don't recognise, for example – delve deeper with the financial provider to find out more, as this could be a sign that your financial security has been compromised.
Online banking is an incredibly useful, and popular, tool used by millions globally. Accessing your accounts online is a convenient way of seeing an up to date balance and recent transactions, as well as being able to transfer money and pay bills. Make sure that the site you visit is the legitimate one by checking the tell-tale signs, such as the "https://" in the address bar which signifies that a SSL certificate is in place and data transferred between the web browser and server is protected and encrypted. If you see anything out of the ordinary, or transactions that you don't recognise, enquire as soon as possible to confirm that identity theft or fraud haven't occurred.
Similarly, shopping online has become more and more prevalent over recent years, with many people choosing to shop online rather than tackle the high streets. With Christmas just around the corner, staying safe while shopping online becomes even more important, as billions of pounds is spent on gifts and festivities. Last year, shoppers were predicted to spend £4.5billion during the weekend before Christmas1 – statistics like these show how important it is to stay safe while surfing the net for stocking fillers and other festive treats.
If you're a potential customer visiting an ecommerce site, you should be on the lookout for signs that the site is secure. If you don't see the https:// or the green address bar, for example, how can you be sure that the site can be trusted? Equally, if you're running a business and you hope to increase your customer base, investing in a SSL certificate will help to instil confidence in your target demographic.
Stay aware of your finances, whether you're online or elsewhere, and stay secure whilst doing so.