You don’t always have the cash you need to afford a repair or unexpected expense in an emergency. In these cash-strapped moments, plenty of people borrow money. And in 2022, most of these borrowers head online rather than visit their local financial institution.
Online loans are convenient, easy, and fast, but like anything else you find online, there’s a cybersecurity risk involved. After all, you have to share your personal financial information over the web.
How can you cash in on all the benefits of borrowing online and minimize the security risk? Follow these three tips.
1. Be Selective with Your Lender
The first step in cybersecurity is choosing the right lender. They’ll be the ones reviewing your personal information when you apply, and if you’re approved, they’ll also save your data on their servers. You need to make sure they’re following industry security standards at every step.
Here’s what you want to look for in a lender:
- A License: This accreditation must be specific to your state, as individual states set unique lending laws. Only online loan direct lenders that meet these regulations will earn such a license.
- APR: An annual percentage rate is an important number that represents the true cost of borrowing. That’s because it compiles all the fees applied to your online cash loan, including finance charges and interest. If this is missing, there’s a good chance you aren’t browsing a legitimate lender’s site.
2. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
It’s okay to compare loans over the phone while browsing online loans from direct lenders, even if you’re piggybacking on a free Wi-Fi connection at your local café. At this point in the borrowing game, you won’t be sharing any personal information.
But once you move onto the application process, you’ll want to switch to a secured network you trust. This makes sure no unauthorized eyes are peeking at all the information you’ll supply in your application.
Most online direct lenders request to see your contact details, social security number, and banking information before they approve funding.
This personal information is vulnerable if you share it while using public Wi-Fi or a free hotspot because these connections are easy to hijack with the right know-how. In fact, any data you send or receive while applying for a loan by phone can be seen.
3. Beef Up Home Security
While the secured network of your home Internet will always be more secure than the public Wi-Fi at the mall, it’s not entirely bulletproof in terms of cyber security.
Firstly, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see any data you download or send over your router, even if you’re using incognito mode.
What do they do with this info? Many ISPs wind up selling your data to third parties. You don’t know which third parties might eventually get their hands on your data, so there’s no way to vet their security policies.
Secondly, the chance that someone hacks your security is slim but never zero. The login credentials for most brand-new routers are freely available online, so they may not have to work very hard to share your connection.
To avoid these at-home security risks, try changing your router’s pre-set name and password and downloading a VPN. A Virtual Private Network scrambles your browsing data so that no one — not even your ISP — can see what you’re doing.
While there’s always a risk to borrowing money online, it comes with no greater danger than ordering pizza, streaming tv shows, or buying clothes over the web. It’s safe as long as you commit to these essential cybersecurity habits.
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