Common money mistakes to avoid

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(PIX11) -- In their April issue, Family Circle has identified 6 common mistakes we tend to make when it comes to handling money. Lifestyle Editor Suzanne Rust stopped by to share a few finance safety strategies in order to stay a step ahead of fraud and identity theft.

ERROR 1: Being lax about monitoring statements.

  • It’s not overkill to log into your bank account twice a week. To track transactions, set up text or email alerts. Banks and creditors offer them for free.
  • Get your free credit reports yearly at sites like and frequently check them to spot fraud before it escalates.
  • Purchase identity theft protection for about $10/month. If someone is trying to open an account in your name with your Social Security number, you’ll be notified.

ERROR 2: Conducting business on public WiFi.

  • If you tap into free wireless at cafes or elsewhere, set up different complex passwords for each of your financial and personal accounts.
  • Download a VPN (virtual personal network) app like Hotspot shield to encrypt your data.
  • Install an app that lets you remotely wipe data from your devices if they are lost or stolen.

ERROR 3: Leaving financial documents visible.

  • Paper is still a common source of ID theft. Shred unwanted mail and lock away statements that you must keep.
  • Put mail service on hold when you’re away, and cancel any pre-approved credit card offers.

ERROR 4: Allowing access to your home technology.

  • Don’t make it easy for delivery people, service providers or even your teens’ friends to retrieve personal information on your Internet-enabled TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Password-protect everything.

ERROR 5: Being careless when filling out credit applications.

  • It’s tempting to sign up for store credit cards to get a discount, but when you complete an application in a public space, you could be leaving it with a clerk who’s not careful with how your vital info is stored. A digital option is better than filling out a physical form.

ERROR 6: Putting your plastic on display.

  • Be wary of people looking over your shoulder at the ATM, or of setting your cards down where anyone could snap a photo. Cover up PIN pads and keep cards out of sight.

Lastly, clean out your wallet. Make sure that you are leaving your social security card, passport, and health insurance cards (unless you have a doctor appointment) at home.