Our top financial security resolutions for a safer 2023
Simple and effective new year’s resolutions can safeguard your money and data in 2023 and beyond. Read on for our tips to help kickstart your new financial security habits.
7 min read
The new year often inspires us to kickstart new habits, usually with the goal of a healthier, happier life. Financial security is rarely part of the conversation — but it should be. Here are some small changes you can make in 2023 that will have a big impact on the security of your money and your data, all year long.
How to safeguard your financial security in the new year
If 2023 is anything like the last few years, it would be wise to expect the unexpected. During turbulent times, it’s important to focus on the things you can control. In this case, that means protecting your finances and your personal data from prying criminals so you can have your most secure year yet.
Up your password game
One of the most overlooked security measures you can control is the strength of your passwords. Using weak passwords and relying on the same or similar passwords for multiple accounts puts you at risk. Plus, it’s good practice to change your passwords every three months and to keep up-to-date with any security breaches where your passwords may have been affected.
In general, the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. This means creating passwords that are at least 12 characters long, using a variety of spellings, numbers, punctuation marks, and a mix of lower and uppercase letters. If you’re struggling to create and remember your longer, more complex passwords, consider using Joshua Foer’s PAO method.
The PAO method
With the PAO method, you create a mental image to help you remember your password. For example, you first imagine an interesting place (e.g Niagara Falls), then you imagine a celebrity (e.g. Beyonce), then you imagine a random object (e.g. an N26 bank card), and a verb (e.g. diving). Then you combine these images to create a scene in your mind: Beyonce diving with an N26 bank card into Niagara Falls.
Once you have a sentence to describe your scene, use it to create a complex password. You might take out the vowels, replace certain letters with numbers or punctuation marks, or shorten and combine words. With that image firmly in your mind, it’ll be much easier to create and remember secure, complex passwords. And even better, they won’t make sense to anyone but you.
Get to grips with 2FA
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, adds an extra step into the log-in process, making your accounts much more secure. The most common 2FA practice is to send a text or an email with a special code that you need to enter when you log in to an account, such as your bank account. In order to proceed with logging in, you need to enter this code in addition to your password.
2FA works by validating your identity in two different ways every time you want to log in. You combine one piece of information that you know — your password — with a second identification factor: either something that you own, like a phone or piece of hardware, or something that you “are,” like your face or your fingerprint. For example, 2FA may mean that you use your fingerprint in addition to your password, or to provide a code sent to your phone in addition to your face ID. This is more secure than simply relying on a single method to access your personal and financial data, and makes it much harder for criminals to break into your accounts.
Scammers move with the times. Taking advantage of new technology, crises, and often using social engineering to manipulate their victims, it pays off to educate yourself about the latest scams — and how to avoid them. Here are some of the most popular scams to look out for in 2023.
Phishing scams work by sending a malicious link to a target, usually in either a text or an email. The message will often sound like it was sent by a respected institution such as a government or a bank, and the tone will often be urgent, pressuring the recipient to act quickly and open the link. Once opened, the link can install malware on the victim’s device, or trick them into sharing personal information such as bank details.
Phishing scammers also impersonate trusted officials to convince their targets to give personal data over the phone. Likewise, malicious apps — often downloaded outside trusted platforms such as the App Store or Google Play — can also gain access to your private information. With all of this going on, it’s important to stay vigilant. If a stranger who claims to be an official seems overly pushy, or if the interaction feels weird or uncomfortable to you, break off contact with them as soon as you can. Then, do some research, try to verify their identity, and share your experience and get a second opinion from someone you trust.
Whether you love them or hate them, dating apps do make it easier to meet new people. The flip side, though, is that they’re a perfect platform for romance scammers to find unsuspecting victims. Once they get a match, these con artists focus on gaining their target’s trust and gradually building a relationship with them before asking for money. Romance scammers will either ask for funds to be sent to them directly, for their target to buy something for them, or they’ll ask them to put money in a fake investment opportunity. The bottom line? Never send money in any form to someone you’ve only just met online or in person, even if you feel like you can trust them.
Fake shops are fraudulent websites that look like genuine online shopping platforms. Often designed to mirror well-known online shops, these fraudulent websites ensnare millions of victims each year. However, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for:
- Any spelling mistakes or poor website design
- A URL that doesn’t include “https” or that your browser flags as being “Not Secure,” usually with a symbol of an open padlock in the address bar
- Very little or no social media presence or customer reviews
- Insecure payment methods like direct bank transfers, gift card purchases, or suspicious third-party apps
Take stock of your financial security
While it’s important to protect your financial security against bad actors, it’s also important to secure yourself against unforeseeable crises and accidents. A financial security net is key to help buffer you against life’s little — and not-so-little — surprises. There are two popular ways to do this: Create an emergency fund and get insured.
Save for an emergency fund
Once you’ve paid off any outstanding debts and you’re in a position to start saving some money every month, it’s smart to build up an emergency fund. The money in this fund should only be used in case of a serious emergency such as an illness, job loss, natural disaster, or death. Ideally, it should be between three and six times the amount of your monthly salary after tax. When the unexpected happens, as it inevitably does in life, you have your emergency fund to fall back on. Not having to worry about your finances can make unfortunate surprises a little easier to navigate.
For extra peace of mind, consider taking out insurance to cover you for specific situations. If you have dependents or a spouse, you might want to take out life insurance. If you own expensive equipment or possessions, property insurance protects you against damage or theft. Liability insurance will cover you if you’re at fault in an accident. Plus, if you have a pet, take out pet insurance to protect yourself from unexpected vet bills — they can really add up!
Your financial security at N26
At N26, your security is our priority. Besides security features like 3D Secure and biometric authentication that are included with your N26 account, we regularly update our blog with articles about the latest online fraud tactics and how to protect yourself. Learn how to protect your digital identity, create a strong password, how secure mobile banking works, and much more.
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