Help Protect Your Financial Accounts
Technology is a great thing in many respects. You can conveniently check and send email, transfer money, deposit checks to your bank, make purchases, pay bills, and do so many other things online. As society relies more and more on computers and Smartphones, we need to be mindful of cybersecurity.
There are some things you can do to help protect your information and your accounts:
- Strong Password that is Changed Frequently - Using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and something that is not easily guessed can help you to protect your information. Never post your user id and password information on or around your computer and be mindful about sharing it with other people as they could sign in as you and conduct unauthorized business without your knowledge. Change your password often to help reduce the chance of its exposure.
- Be Mindful of Scanning Documents and Sending Them in An Unencrypted Email - Please do not scan documents with personally identifying information like social security numbers, bank account numbers, birth dates, and the like via unencrypted email. Tax returns, driver’s licenses, even investment statements can provide information to hackers. Mailing, faxing, or dropping off the documents is generally more secure.
- Don’t Put Account Numbers, Policy Numbers or Other Identifiers in Subject Field - Be mindful not to expose your account or policy numbers in the subject line of an email. This is not secure.
- Be Mindful of Putting Identifying Information in the Body of Emails - Once again, putting full account numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or other identifiers in the body of an email that is not encrypted can expose your data. You may want to only give the last couple of digits of your account number instead.
- Do Not Give Information Out on the Phone - Your bank, credit card company, the IRS, and investment professional do not need you to provide your account numbers - they already have them. If some unknown person calls saying they are from the IRS, it is a scam. If someone calls you crying saying “Grandma, help I have been arrested and need you to wire money” it is a scam. Search online for some of the most common scams. Protect your information!
- Antivirus, Antimalware, Full Disk Encryption, Automatic Operating System Patches - There are some things you can do to your computer to help it be more secure such as having up to date antivirus and antimalware, full disk encryption, and making sure that updates from Microsoft are automatically updating the security patches. You may want to consult with a computer professional regarding your computer security.
- Provide Verbal Instructions for Transactions - For compliance regulations, trading instructions cannot be accepted via email or voicemail. The financial advisor needs to verbally review instructions with you. Further, a financial advisor cannot take instructions from someone who is not listed on the account (or who is not otherwise authorized in writing by you to take these instructions such as through a trading authorization form or power of attorney). This includes your spouse! Please be mindful who you authorize to conduct business on your behalf.
- Crosscut Shredder - A crosscut shredder will shred documents into small confetti. Some of the less expensive shredders shred paper into long strips which can be easily re-assembled. Be mindful to carefully dispose of documents by using a crosscut shredder versus just throwing them away or using a non-crosscut shredder. In our office, we utilize a locked shredding bin and a certified shredding service for secure document disposal.
- Computer Disposal - When disposing of a computer, please be mindful to remove the hard drive before disposing of it. The hard drive can be drilled through with holes to prevent its access and a computer service provider can generally assist you with this.
- Avoid Public Conversations - Be cautious not to announce your personal business in public such as through a cell phone conversation. I cannot tell you how many times I have ridden on a train to hear people giving out their account numbers, credit card numbers, and whatnot. You never know who is listening!
- Look at Your Statements - Be sure to look at your statements for your various credit card, banking, and investment accounts to look for any signs of unauthorized activity. It is important to be vigilant and to address any potential issues quickly.
- Monitor Your Credit Report - Look at your credit report at least once per year so that you can see if there are any potential issues with accounts fraudulently opened in your name, etc. There are services that can monitor this and send alerts to you should anyone seek to be opening an account or loan in your name.
These are just some of the steps you can take to help protect your information. Be alert and take the few minutes to be safe.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Seek professional advice before taking any action in regard to your finances.
I am pleased to assist you, your family members, friends, and colleagues and offer a complimentary first consultation.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203
(518) 867-4000 x105 [email protected] www.capitalfinancialplanning.net