DENVER - Starting a regular routine of checking your accounts online is one "Certified Ethical Hacker's" top digital tip for protecting your finances.
"I have this routine, first thing in the morning: It's checking my bank account while brushing my teeth," consumer investigator Charles Tendell said.
Creating a routine that keeps you aware of the charges and withdrawals each day is the quickest way to spot a fraudulent charge. In addition to, or instead of, periodically balancing your checkbook, a line-by-line review of your recent charges will ensure you are alerted quickly to a potential identity theft situation, Tendell said.
Tendell is the CEO and founder of Azorian Cyber Security, where he has spearheaded countless investigations into cybercrimes ranging from consumer scams to corporate espionage. He is certified as an ethical hacker, a hacking forensic investigator and information systems security professional by EC-Council. Before starting Azorian, Tendell served in the U.S. Army securing communication infrastructures in Iraq.
Verifying the credentials of the person or services you work with is Tendell's second tip.
"Do something to connect to them on your own channel and that's how you verify," he said.
Always be suspicious about a transaction you did not initiate online or over the phone. Most institutions will not request personal or financial information out of the blue and reputable businesses will be available for you to call back or log on when you are ready.
Online, verification may also include comparing the web address or email address you're working with to known properties of the company they report to be. Scammers can use a business' name, or even add it as a subdomain of their own web address, but they cannot possess the real address.
Tendell's third digital tip is to avoid an old analog financial tool as much as possible: checks.
Think about it. Checks are covered with your personal information. They carry your account number, routing number, name, address and the name of your bank.
"Don't leave your checkbook in your car anymore," Tendell says. "You know, I don't even use checkbooks. And anytime anybody asks me for a check, I honestly say, 'I don't do that.'"