In a recent Q&A with MSNBC's Herb Weisbaum, Javelin Strategy & Research president and founder Jim Van Dyke explained why banks' refusal to let consumers create their own security challenge questions puts our money at risk:
"(Banks) need to stay away from things that we post online or somebody could even get from a genealogy site ... Along with the secret questions and password, they should filter out what looks like obvious choices.
If you're the bank, send people a notice that says, 'Don't use 1-2-3-4 for your password' or 'Don't use a piece of information, such as your dog's name. It's too obvious."
Van Dyke didn't go into why this is so, but given the rise of identity theft in recent years, there's no question you need to be taking extra steps to safeguard your money. Check out these tips from YM contributor Justine Rivero to get a head start:
Get free credit monitoring. One of the best safeguards out there, this will alert you to any changes in your report, including suspicious activity or when a new account is opened in your name.
Password-protect your smartphone. There's a lot of juicy info on that phone, so keep it on lockdown. Likewise, never auto-save a mobile banking password on your phone.
Consider a smart card. "EMV" smart-chip cards offer stronger protection than the ol' magnetic strip cards, including using a unique PIN that harder for thieves to pilfer and abuse your credit. They aren't widespread in the US, but it's worth asking your bank if they're on offer.
For more information on playing it safe, visit Javelin's tips site idsafety.net.SEE ALSO: 10 heart-wrenching dating scams >
More From Business Insider