5 Money Security Mistakes Americans Are Making in 2020


If you’re inclined to take advantage of sales this year, with the holiday shopping season starting early, ‘tis the season to be extra vigilant about your personal information.

More than 91% of U.S. adults have put their personal data at risk at some time this year, according to a new report from Bankrate.com.

Don’t Make These 5 Money Security Mistakes

The report, which was commissioned by Bankrate.com and administered by research data and analytics group YouGov, explains what some of those security mistakes are. 

Along with identifying the issues, I’ll share some tips from Team Clark and money expert Clark Howard on how to protect yourself.

1. Re-Using Your Passwords Online

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According to the report, re-using your online password is the most common security mistake, with 80% of survey respondents pleading guilty to doing it. 

And 45% admitted that they had saved passwords on a computer or phone in the past year.

Do you find it difficult to remember all those passwords? You’re not alone, and Clark says that a password manager to store and manage your online credentials can come in handy.

“Although there have been issues with some password managers, they’re still better than using the same password on multiple accounts,” he says.

2. Saving Your Payment Information Online

pay online

The report also says that 39% of respondents said they’d saved payment information on a computer or phone.


Many of today’s most popular internet browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, allow you to store your payment information online.

Here are two reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • It could open you up to hackers: Any data you store online is, at least in some way, vulnerable, and hackers are developing new ways all the time to access people’s data. 
  • It may make impulse shopping that much easier: This isn’t so much about security as it is about overspending. The convenience of one-click shopping can be a temptation too great to resist.

3. Using Public Wi-Fi

woman using public Wi-Fi in a coffee shop

The report says 36% of survey respondents said that they’ve used public Wi-Fi.

Many public establishments make it easy for you to log on to their Wi-Fi networks, and in some cases, you don’t even have to sign in. Here’s what Clark says about public Wi-Fi.

“Like so many people today, I have unlimited data on my cell phone. I’m also privileged that my cell phone comes with an unlimited hotspot. Unless I’m at home or work, where I think I can trust the Wi-Fi, I operate off my own hotspot so that I’m not putting myself in the position where I might be exposed and vulnerable.”

4. Not Shredding Your Discarded Mail

shredded letters and other mail

23% of those who responded to the BankRate survey said that they had thrown out or recycled sensitive mail without shredding it.

The truth is that not shredding your discarded mail could lead to identity theft (thieves can snoop through your trash).

Before you shred those papers, make sure they don’t contain any timely correspondence or sensitive documents that you actually need to keep.


5. Posting Your Birth Date on Social Media

Happy birthday to this dog

The report says that 15% of respondents posted their birth dates on social media, which is a big no-no no matter how many well wishes and likes you get!

One thing Clark is adamant about not making it easy for crooks to steal personal information online. When you post your birth date on Facebook or Twitter, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

“If somebody knows it’s your birthday and how old you are, when they take your full name and birth date — oh my goodness — there’s so much information [online] that becomes available,” Clark says.

Final Thoughts

See the complete results of Bankrate’s poll on internet security.

Once crooks steal your personal information, not only can they cause big financial hassles, those problems can negatively affect your credit score. That’s why Clark strongly suggests that you freeze your credit so that crooks can’t exploit it when the worst happens.

Want to know more about proactive steps you can take to protect yourself online? Here’s how to safeguard your identity on the internet.

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