Tips to Safeguard Your Financial Data During Data Privacy Week

With the global average cost of a data breach reaching $4.45 million in 2023, a 15 percent increase over three years, safeguarding your financial information has never been more crucial.

"As custodians of financial well-being, community banks safeguard the privacy of their customer information,” said ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey. “Data Privacy Week is a good time to remind consumers of the importance of protecting sensitive data to prevent losses in the face of rising data breaches. Together, we can usher in a more secure and privacy-conscious digital era."

Reducing Your Risk Exposure

While there's no foolproof solution to avoid online identity theft, here are practical steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Restrict Use of Public Wi-Fi and Computers: Public networks may be convenient but are not as secure. When making purchases outside your home or work network, use a virtual private network (VPN) or mobile hotspot.
  • Limit Disclosed Information: Never respond to requests for personal information, even if they seem to come from your bank, government agencies, or trusted companies. Keep your banking ID, account number, username, and password confidential.
  • Take Advantage of Security Features: Regularly update your computer security software and apply software updates to defend against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Monitor Account Activity: Review bank statements, card transactions, and check your credit report regularly. Report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately.
  • Protect Each Account with a Unique, Complex Password: Use passwords that are at least 12 characters long, include numbers and symbols, and consider using a password manager. Implement multifactor authentication where possible.

Responding to a Data Breach

In the unfortunate event of a data breach, consider these steps to minimize your risk:

  • Put a security Freeze on Your Credit Report: Restrict access to your credit file.
  • Set Up a Fraud Alert: Direct your trusted community banker to verify your identity before opening new accounts or making changes to existing ones.
  • Report Stolen Finances or Identities: Report cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, local law enforcement, and/or your state attorney general.

Learn More and Spread the Word

Learn more about protecting your digital life during Data Privacy Week by visiting the Stay Safe Online website, join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #BeCyberSmart, and reach out to your trusted community banker for advice and support.

“Community bank customers can be at ease knowing that community banks take the protection of their customers’ data very seriously, and community banks are regulated by some of the strictest data privacy laws of any sector,” says Steven Estep, ICBA assistant vice president of operational risk. “They not only safeguard the privacy of your information but also empower you with the knowledge to detect and report potential threats.”

As you take proactive steps to secure your financial data during Data Privacy Week and beyond, remember that community banks are by your side, working tirelessly to ensure a more secure and privacy-conscious digital era.