In this day and age, as we are becoming more reliant on technology, particularly for banking and investment activity, the potential to be threatened by cybercrime, internet fraud and hackers has increased dramatically.
When it comes to bank accounts, investment accounts, e-mail and other sensitive information that lives on the internet, it is important to take measures to make sure that everything is secure and protected.
Methods used to compromise a victim’s identity or login credentials, such as malware, phishing and social engineering, are increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot.
A fraudster’s goal is to obtain information to access your account and assets or sell your information for this purpose.
Fortunately, criminals often take the path of least resistance. Following best practices and applying caution when sharing information or executing transactions makes a big difference.
For 2019, let’s make a resolution to strengthen our personal identity and financial security.
One great practice is to establish a verbal password that only you know with the firm(s) where you keep assets to confirm your identity when speaking with them over the phone.
This makes it virtually impossible for a fraudster to call a bank or brokerage firm and pretend to be you even if they did have some of your personal information.
This and the other actions listed below can go a long way for keeping your information secure, safe and protected.
▪ For financial accounts, set up two-factor authentication with the hosting institution. This creates an additional layer of security on top of your password.
In most cases, you can set it up to send you a text message to provide an additional code or have a small key-fob type device to generate the security code.
▪ Be aware of suspicious phone calls, emails and texts asking you to send money or disclose personal information. If a service rep calls you, hang up and call back using a known phone number.
▪ Never share sensitive information or conduct business via email unless the firm you are exchanging information with provides a secure email system.
▪ Beware of phishing and malicious links. Urgent-sounding, often legitimate-looking emails are intended to tempt you to accidentally disclose personal information or install malware on your computer.
▪ Don’t use personal information as part of your login ID or password, and don’t share login credentials.
▪ Create a complex password with at least 10 characters using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols and change them every six months. Consider using a password manager app on your smartphone to simplify this process.
▪ Don’t use public computers or free Wi-Fi, especially for accessing your financial accounts. Use a personal Wi-Fi hotspot.
While the above list is not exhaustive, we believe that these are great first steps to take if you have not considered them.
Every day we do everything that we can to protect our family, belongings and wealth. The same should be true for how we approach our finances and business when online.
Tom Breiter is the President of Integra Capital Advisors, a registered investment adviser in Bradenton. He can be reached at 941-778-1900 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.