Cybersecurity 101: Borrowing Online in a Safe Way

Every year, a stunning number of people are victims of data breaches. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2022 Data Breach Report, 422.1 million people were victims of data breaches and exposures in 2022 alone. 

With stats like this, it’s natural to wonder about your own cybersecurity, especially when you’re sharing personal information in an online loan application. Data breaches have a long shadow in the era of digital borrowing, and you’re right to be concerned. However, you don’t have to swear off online lending altogether to stay safe.

Despite the rise in cyber threats, borrowing money online isn’t inherently unsafe. Your cybersecurity is what you make it. If you borrow while following digital best practices, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Know the Risks of Borrowing Money Online

Online loans aren’t the exclusive bounty of black-hat hackers. Fraudsters target any large business or website that hosts personal information — from basic contact details like email and phone numbers to more critical financial account numbers and login credentials.

In 2022, these were the top ten data attributes targeted by fraudsters:

  1. Name
  2. Social insurance number
  3. Birthdate
  4. Current address
  5. Driver’s licenses
  6. Medical history
  7. Bank account number
  8. Medical insurance account number
  9. Undisclosed records
  10. Medical provider account number.

While these pieces of ID are most often attributed to banks, online lenders, and credit unions, plenty of non-financial websites collect similar information. That same year, the three biggest data compromises affected Twitter, Neopets, and AT&T.

So why is there such a focus on lenders if any website could be a target? It has to do with optics. When applying online, you have to share a lot of the information listed above, including your name, date of birth, social insurance number, and address. You also have to share your bank account number and employment records.

This is all normal, by the way. Accredited and reputable lenders like Fora may request some of this information to assess your financial profile before they approve funds. If you pass the muster, Fora uses your bank account numbers to deposit your funds directly.

Since personal information is their normal trade, lenders (and any financial institution) employ strong cybersecurity best practices to keep their records safe. These companies pour a considerable amount of their enormous budgets into security policies to minimize the risk of a lender becoming the next data breach target.

With talented IT and money to back up their cybersecurity, lenders do what they can to keep you safe and throw off fraudsters. As a result, fraudsters usually take the easier route, which is targeting individuals like you.

Targeted Attacks That Steal Your Info

Besides large-scale data breaches, fraudsters have other ways to nab your info. Here are two of the most common strategies in their bag of tricks:

1. Phishing Attacks

Cybercriminals often employ phishing techniques to trick unsuspecting borrowers into revealing sensitive data. They may send deceptive emails or create fake loan websites that mimic legitimate lenders, conning you into sharing login credentials, social insurance numbers, or bank account details.

2. Malicious Software

You can accidentally download malware through infected email attachments, suspicious links, or compromised websites. Malware includes programs that infiltrate your computer or mobile device and capture sensitive account numbers and passwords as you enter them.

How to Safeguard Your Personal Data

Choose Reputable Lenders: Shop around before you apply with a lender. Part of your research should include reading online reviews left by past customers. You should also check their website is secure and has a privacy policy.

Use Strong and Unique Passwords: Stop reusing the same password for every account. ach online account needs a complex login containing uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Google also recommends avoiding personal information and common words when creating a new password.

Employ Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This additional layer of security requires you to provide a second verification factor (like a unique code sent to your phone or email) before you can access your loan account.

Be Wary of Suspicious Emails and Websites: Now that you know fraudsters employ phishing attacks to nab your info, be cautious any time you open your inbox. Double-check that the sender has a legitimate email address tied to your lender. Be wary of any attachments or emails that ask you to reply with your personal information. Ignore emails that contain spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or aggressive language.

Secure Your Devices: Have you postponed an update to your phone or computer? You might want to schedule this update soon, as they usually contain patches that fix security holes.

Monitor Your Financial Accounts: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Report these discrepancies immediately to your financial institution and the credit bureaus.

Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks: When applying for a loan or accessing your profile, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. Fraudsters can hijack these connections and spy on your activity. Wait to do these tasks when you can use a trusted and secured network instead.

Following these tips can help strengthen the online security of any important account — not just when you’re borrowing. Keep that in mind as more of your life happens online. These cybersecurity best practices will reduce your risk of becoming a victim of fraud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button