Online attackers are only growing more advanced and sophisticated in how they gain personal data. Now more than ever, it is important to learn how you can protect yourself and your information.

1. Be on the lookout

There are many different ways scammers can access your information. One way you might not know about is through free or public WiFi networks. To be on the safe side, don’t access personal accounts or sensitive data on open WiFi networks. In addition, be on the lookout for ATMs or card readers that have been tampered with. Make sure the buttons are intact and the pay-at-the-pump sticker seal isn’t broken before you complete a payment.

2. Simple tricks to outsmart the hackers

There are several simple things you can do to protect yourself online. For example, create strong passwords, use credit cards and not debit cards, or add a two-factor authentication to your accounts. These quick additions can greatly protect your personal data from scammers. Also, be mindful of what you share on social media as hackers can take your personal information like your pet’s name, travel plans or your high school mascot to figure out passwords or security questions.

3. Think before you click

One of the easiest ways for an attacker to gain access to your personal information is through a phishing scam. This occurs when a link with malware is sent to you through email, texts or a phone call and you engage with it.

The ABA Foundation has some great tips to spot a phishing scam before you get caught in the traps. For example, you want to look for subtle changes like a misspelled word or name, verify the email address or phone number before you respond and never share your personal data. Be diligent when you receive communication from anyone who is asking you to pay a bill, provide financial information or is sharing a message with you that isn’t already in the body of the text or email. These links from an unknown number or email address are most likely scammers. Contact the business that is trying to reach you by finding an official phone number. Once you’re connected with them, verify the request and check to make sure it’s authentic.

If you believe you are a victim of an online scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission‡.

4. Protect others in your family

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute‡, elder Americans lose $28.3 billion a year in financial exploitation. One of the easiest ways the older generation is caught in a scam is through the idea a family member is in danger. The scammers will call and say a grandchild is in need of money because of an emergency. They might ask for gift cards or a wire transfer. Before you do anything, verify the relative is actually in danger, even if the person on the phone says to keep it confidential. Encourage older friends and family to not answer the phone for numbers they do not recognize and to hang up quickly if they think it is scam.

Vigilance is key when trying to stay safe online. If something looks weird or feels off, confirm before you click on anything or enter personal data. A personal banker can help answer your questions about how to stay safe online.

Explore tips for protecting your financial future through the Protecting Health and Wealth playlist on the UMB Financial Education Center.

Check the UMB Privacy and Security Center to learn more about risk-mitigation best practices and view security alerts.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.