Let's face it There are people out there who want access to your financial accounts. Account takeovers happen when the wrong people dig up the right private information about you to gain access to your online financial accounts. Then, they strike. Either by moving big chunks of your money all at once or small amounts at a time hoping you don't notice. What's happening is a form of identity theft. The more that thieves know about you the easier it is to gain access to your money. Here are some things you can do to protect your personal information to help prevent account takeover attempts. Don't fall for fake information requests. Financial institutions will never call, email, or text you asking for online banking information like usernames, passwords, or PIN numbers. Use safe passwords. Mix numbers with upper and lower case letters and don't write them down where people can easily find them. Think twice about what you share on social media. Information posted like your phone number, address, or birthdate can be used to find out more about you. You also don't want information on your profile that can be used to answer challenge security questions. Be careful when banking on public computers and always make sure to sign out of any account you're using. You also need to stay alert and check your financial statements regularly to make sure your money is safe. Here are some things you can do to spot a possible takeover. Watch for transactions you don't expect such as purchases or withdrawals you didn't make. Contact your financial institution immediately if you spot this. If a merchant says your debit card has been turned down call the number on the back of the card to report the problem and explain what happened. Check your credit report regularly to look for things like unexpected loans or missed payments. You can do this for free once a year by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Think smart and stay alert. Both are great defenses against account takeovers.