UCSB is participating in UC Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CSAM) during the month of October. The goal of CSAM is to increase systemwide awareness about cybersecurity and to educate our own campus community on ways to better protect yourselves and your devices from cyber-attacks. This week we will focus on the importance of securing financial accounts against potential cyber threats.

As our everyday lives become increasingly digital, protecting your financial accounts against cybercrime is more important than ever. Safeguarding your financial accounts encompasses more than just your savings and checking accounts; it should also include protecting your investments, retirement, and online payment applications like Venmo. 

Tips to secure your financial accounts:

  1. Use strong passwords. Never share your passwords, and use a different password for each of your accounts. It is best practice to change your passwords regularly. 
  2. Use multi-factor authentication. Whenever possible, it is always advised to activate multi-factor authentication for your online accounts to add an extra layer of security.
  3. Monitor your account activity. Always pay close attention to your financial and bank accounts, including payment services like Venmo and PayPal. Set up notifications through email, text messages, or directly from your bank’s app to monitor for any fraudulent activity. 
  4. Beware of phishing messages. Phishing emails or text messages will attempt to obtain your personal information. These messages often contain malware that targets your computer when a link in the message is clicked. 
  5. Avoid sending financial information via email or over the phone. This is important because email and phone communications lack encryption and are commonly used for phishing attacks. 

If you believe you have become a victim of a financial cybercrime, taking immediate action is crucial to minimize the damage and protect your financial well-being.

Here's what you should do:

  1. Close or freeze compromised accounts. The first thing you should do if you are a victim of a financial cybercrime is close all of the affected accounts. 
  2. Reach out to your financial institutions, including banks and other relevant companies. Immediately get in touch with your bank, credit card companies, and other financial institutions involved to report the unauthorized activity. They can help you freeze your accounts and initiate an investigation to lessen further damage. 
  3. Change passwords. Change the passwords for all your online accounts, especially those linked to your financial accounts. Ensure that the new passwords are strong and unique for each account.
  4. Contact credit bureaus. If your financial accounts have been compromised, consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports with major credit bureaus.
  5. Notify relevant authorities. Depending on the nature of the crime, you might need to report the incident to organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or similar agencies. 

Remember that responding quickly is essential to minimize the impact to your financial accounts.

In the digital realm, securing your financial accounts is imperative. By following simple yet effective measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to financial cybercrime. Taking control of your online security can help you navigate the digital landscape with confidence and peace of mind.

Don’t forget to check out UCSB’s lineup of CSAM events this month! Students, staff, faculty, family, and friends are all encouraged to join and learn! The UC Cyber Champions group also has a full list of systemwide events occurring throughout October.