7 steps to keeping your banking information safe and secure
Online banking has created a fantastic convenient way to check your balance, transfer money, open new accounts and more. With a click or a tap, you can have instant access to your bank account at any time, anywhere. However, this access can also expose your financial information to threats and can put your balances in jeopardy. To avoid any kind of hacking or fraud on your account, here are a few precautions you can take.
1. Make sure your online banking sign in is sufficiently complex.
The most common advice to safeguard against hacking your account is creating a complex password. Most websites and banks will require a password of significant length that includes special characters. If you want it to be something you'll remember, try making a sentence out of the letters. Then, replace a few I's or O's with exclamation points and zeros respectively. Now you have a complex password. If you want to make sure your password is very secure, then sign up and use a password manager service like LastPass. This service creates incredibly complex passwords for you and automatically logs you in to all of your accounts. Your password vault is encrypted and is basically impossible for anyone to see, including the best hackers.
2. Change your banking password regularly.
You should change all of your important passwords at least once a year. For something like a bank account, it should be about every six months. You can change it even more often if you want. This will keep anyone who might already have your password out of your account. And if your bank or any site says they were hacked, you should definitely change your password — no matter if you had just changed it the day before. If you don't want to worry about changing your password, LastPass will even change it automatically for you based on a specific schedule.
3. If available, activate two-step verification.
Two-step verification requires that you type in a pin sent to your phone as well as your password to sign in. Unless someone happens to have your password and your phone, no one else will be able to log into your account. Many sites, especially banks, now offer this option. The set up is simple and it will leave you with some peace of mind every time you sign in.
4. Avoid logging in to your account on public wifi.
First of all, you should avoid connecting to public, unsecured networks as a general rule. These can be easily hijacked and used to access information on your phone or your computer. But if you must use public wifi, avoid logging into or accessing any sensitive information — especially your bank account. Just logging in while connected to one of these networks might be enough for someone to skim your password and access your account. (Trust me. This exact thing happened to me recently and it was not a fun time.)
5. Limit the amount of devices that will remember or recognize your login.
If you use your tablet, phone and multiple computers on a regular basis, it's tempting to let these devices remember your username or password. This eases your access to your bank, but also lets others access it too. If someone has access to a device where this sensitive information is stored and ready, they can easily authorize something on your account that you don't want. To avoid this, limit the amount of devices that can remember your login. Just stick to the one you use the most and log out on all the others.
6. Don't use your main email for your bank account.
Email can be compromised easily too. If your email is hacked, any account that has it set for password recovery is in jeopardy too. This is why you should also change your email password frequently. If you use one email regularly, you're exposing it to threats more often. To avoid someone getting into your bank account through your email, set up a new one that is strictly for your banking information. This will prevent most email hacks to access your bank account.
7. If you're really worried about it, don't use online banking at all.
Of course, the only sure fire away to avoid exposing your information with online banking is to avoid using it at all. The convenience of the service is a trade off for the security implications. If you still want to use it but you're concerned, limit when and where you access it. Only log in on secure networks and on one device at a time.
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!