Personal Financial Information and Technology: Is It Safe?

personal finance

There’s a running joke in my household (it occurs to me I write that once a week or so, and that I am clearly the butt of everyone’s jokes) that I cannot become attached to a card number. I once was able to rattle of my card numbers and expiration dates and CV codes without even blinking at any time, but those days are gone. Every single time I’m attached to a card number and we get personal, it’s compromised and I need a new card. Being married to a banker, you’d think I’d be much better at protecting my financial information, but I’m embarrassingly bad about keeping my cards safe.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and blame my husband for that one; I mean, I haven’t actually been to a bank in more than 14 years because he’s there every day and does all our banking for us (and online, too). I am clueless about things like this anymore, and we’re going to blame him in hopes that he doesn’t read this. In the past 12 months, I have been through 4 bank debit cards, 2 PayPal debit cards and one credit card. Each has been replaced, each account compromised and each set of passwords changed numerous times.

Until recently, I always assumed that everyone had the same issue. It wasn’t until I just had to have two debit cards replaced after fraudulent charges were placed in the past week that my best friend informed me that it does not happen to everyone. I asked my husband, and he said it’s really just me and that if I would take his advice, it would not happen so frequently.

It turns out that my husband isn’t the only grown-up in our house that may or may not have selective hearing. In an effort to help you keep your own financial information secure, I did some digging around and asked the most handsome banker I know (he’s all mine, ladies) what’s safe, what’s not and how to keep your financial information safe and protected to the best of your ability.

Financial and Personal Information Via Text

It’s never a good idea to put your personal information anywhere that is recorded, unless it’s absolutely necessary (a mortgage application, your income tax returns, etc.). My husband advises that you only provide your personal information (and for personal information we are talking SSN, debit card numbers and anything of that nature) in person. However, text message is the best possible option if you need to do it electronically. In fact, I just bought a new car last night and my husband was texting the salesman our insurance information and licenses on the drive to the dealership.

It’s his opinion that the person who is receiving the information is only the person you intend. However, you do have to be very careful about making sure the number is correctly entered for the person you’re intending to text personal information to, and you need to know that their phone has a passcode and cannot be accessed by anyone else, even if lost or stolen.

Via Email

Hilary Clinton we are not; do not use your personal email address to ever send personal information to anyone – ever. My husband advises that I never email anything personal to anyone. His bank uses a secure server and network that allows them to send personal information via email to employees only on their work email account. Anyone who is caught sending work emails via their personal email account is immediately written up and the issue is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. It is simply not safe.

Via the phone

My handsome banker has a few opinions on this one. It is his professional opinion that personal information is best given when it is over the phone during an actual call to a financial institution. Since that company is going to have this information anyway, it’s usually all right to call with it. But, there are stipulations; do not call in the middle of public. There is nothing more dangerous than standing in line at Publix and rattling off your social to someone at the bank so you can complete your mortgage application while there are a dozen other people within earshot.

Call from the privacy of your own home, and be sure that the person who is taking your information is entering it into his or her work computer system and not jotting it down on a piece of paper to use later.

A quick tip for secure information transfers

Quickly, I have to tell you that my husband detests when I save my card information online with my favorite stores. He advises against it and is nothing short of annoyed with me when he finds out he can checkout automatically at Nordstrom because my card is always saved in their account.

On that note, if you are going to transmit payment information, personal information or other important financial information, many financial experts agree that the best way to do it is to use several different methods. For instance, let’s say I need my husband’s debit card number when mine was compromised so I can order dinner and he’s not home. I call him and he will give me the first four digits over the phone, email the second for, text me the third four and then call me again with the last four.

By splitting up this information, it’s harder for anyone with less than innocent intentions to take his information and use it for himself. Always be safe when it comes to sharing your personal financial information anywhere, and take my husband’s advice. He’s not just a pretty face; he’s a very experienced financial wizard (and he loves it when I tell people that).

Photo by Getty Images


Leave a Reply