How to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Cybercriminals

Woman shopping online with a credit card

In today’s digital age, the growing portion of our lives taking place online has led to an increased risk of fraud as cybercriminals are getting smarter and are constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. In fact, according to the FTC, 2023 was the worst year ever for scams, causing people to lose $10 billion.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you need to panic! New technologies are helping protect individuals from cybercriminals and scams before they even happen. And by taking a few simple steps before your wedding day or even after, you can ensure your transactions and personal information are kept secure.

Here are some best practices you can adopt to safeguard yourself from fraud:

Keep Your Devices Updated

One of the fundamental steps in fortifying your defense against fraud is to ensure that your devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers, are running on the latest operating system and software updates. Developers regularly release security patches and updates to address vulnerabilities, and by keeping your devices up to date, you minimize the risk of falling victim to known security loopholes and cybercriminals.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Online Shopping

Public Wi-Fi networks are hotspots for potential fraud and security breaches. Cybercriminals can easily intercept data transmitted over unsecured networks, putting your sensitive information at risk. It’s advisable to avoid making online purchases or accessing your financial accounts when connected to public Wi-Fi. Instead, use a secure and private connection, such as a personal hotspot or a trusted home network, to conduct sensitive transactions.

Use Your Smartphone’s Digital Wallet

Your smartphone’s digital wallet isn’t just convenient, it’s also a more secure way to pay your wedding vendors and your day-to-day purchases. By setting a unique passcode and biometrics (such as facial recognition or fingerprint), your digital wallet will be even more secure than your physical one! Also, be on the lookout for enhancements to wallets that will provide even more features to keep you secure, including by letting users verify identities and manage their data all in one place.

Shop at Reputable Online Vendors

When shopping online, it’s crucial to stick to reputable vendors and well-known e-commerce platforms. Be wary of unfamiliar websites that may lack the necessary security measures to protect your personal and financial information. Look for websites with secure payment options, indicated by “https://” in the URL, and familiarize yourself with the vendor’s reputation by reading reviews from other customers.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Enhance the security of your online accounts by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of protection against fraud by requiring users to verify their identity through a secondary method, such as a one-time code sent to their mobile device or email. This additional step makes it significantly more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access to your accounts, even if they have your login credentials.

Zero-Liability Has Your Back

Consumer Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover credit cards won’t hold customers responsible for unauthorized transactions, provided they are promptly reported, and the cardholder used reasonable care in protecting the card from loss or theft. Known as Zero Liability, this protection applies to fraudulent purchases made without your consent in the store, over the telephone, online or via a mobile device and ATM transactions. With protections like that, paying with your card brings more peace of mind than paying with a debit card, cash or check.

Protecting yourself from fraud requires a combination of awareness, vigilance and proactive measures. By keeping your devices updated, avoiding public Wi-Fi for financial transactions, choosing reputable vendors, using multi-factor authentication and paying securely with your card, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities. Stay informed, stay cautious and take the necessary steps to fortify your digital defenses in the ever-evolving landscape of online security.