Anyone up for losing all their money? Probably not. Yet, we daily engage in activities that could be putting our finances at risk.
Here are 5 common scenarios that could happen to you or someone you know in 2018. And the steps you should take now to protect your future self.
Ready to pull up your socks?
- Divorce: Know what assets belong to you in your marriage.
Aside from the emotional heartbreak of a divorce, the financial separation can also be tumultuous. Issues range from how to divide up property to what happens in a jointly owned business. Spousal support is also an issue that is put on the table when couples are seeking a divorce.
If children are involved, it increases the stakes considerably. This divorce attorney in Harrisburg PA says “If you have children, you want to be able to give them a good life and the proper support that they need. That new life depends on the divorce settlement you receive.”
Getting legal counsel is the first step in protecting your finances if you are considering a separation.
- Financial account theft: Stay on guard when online.
Scared of getting your identity stolen? When that happens, not only is it a headache to have resolved, your financial accounts are also at risk.
According to the FTC, identity theft complaints doubled between 2010 and 2015. But the numbers available are likely much higher than what government agencies report.
What measures can you take to reduce the risk of identity theft and the risk to your online accounts? Here’s what the FTC recommends:
- Keep your online interactions secure by only sending personal information through encrypted sites. You can tell if a site is encrypted by checking to see if they have a green lock icon in the address bar of the browser.
- Use strong passwords. And create different passwords for different accounts. Is memorizing many passwords is difficult for you? Use one “throwaway” password for sites that don’t contain sensitive information. For example, for social media sites and other entertainment sites. And one strong password for your financial accounts.
- Put a password on your phone, iPad, laptop, and on your Wi-fi. While that might not deter a determined hacker, it will keep you safe from opportunists.
- Ransomware: Stay vigilant against viruses.
CNN Tech reported on the growing problem of ransomware crimes last year. Targeted individuals were required to pay about $300 to get their files freed. While this might seem like a manageable sum, experts suggest that cyber kidnappers keep the amount low on purpose. Why? Doing so increases the chances that individuals pay up.
For those who are dedicated to personal finance, $300 to get your files back might not be much to pay. But for anyone without an emergency fund to fall back on, that cut in your monthly budget could mean going hungry until your next pay check arrives.
Ransomware can infect your computer through viruses. But typically, it requires that the individual click the attachment to an email.
Don’t open emails from people you do not know. Opening or downloading a file from strangers could put your hardware at risk.
- Senior financial fraud: Protect your elderly loved ones.
Do you have a loved one who is elderly? Did you know that a 2015 report estimated a $36 billion loss per year due to financial scams targeted at older Americans?
The methods employed are wide-ranging. So the key is staying knowledgeable about your parents’ financial accounts. Additionally, advise your senior loved ones to adhere to the following recommendations from the FTC to avoid phone fraud:
- Never give personal information out over the phone if you are not the one to have initiated contact. That includes your social security number, bank account number, and even your physical address.
- Impersonators will often try to call a number and pretend to be a service you are familiar with.
- Verify the identity of the caller by looking online for the company they say they are associated with.
- High medical costs: Make choices that keep future medical bills low.
Have you been putting off enacting an exercise plan? You could be hurting your future finances by doing so. Exercise plays a large role in keeping disease at away and ensuring a long and healthy life. And your future health is dependent on many of the choices you make today.
Drastically reduce your future medical bills now by choosing behaviors that will keep you in good health for as long as possible. For instance, avoid foods and behaviors that you know you should have given up long ago.