The recent Equifax data breach is a reminder to all of us that safeguarding our financial information is vital in today’s technologically charged world. Being proactive and vigilante is the best way to make it hard for opportunistic cyber criminals to steal your personal information. The following tips can help protect you:
Create strong usernames, passwords and PINs:
- Keep your usernames, passwords and PINs private—and don’t store them on your hard drive.
- Create tough-to-crack passwords and PINs, using a minimum of eight letters and numbers and, if possible, special symbols.
- Use phrases from your favorite book or movie.
- Change your passwords often, and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
Protect your online brokerage and bank accounts:
- Use your own computer rather than a public or shared computer.
- Confirm that you have a secure web connection throughout your session: “https://” and NOT “http://”
- Set up dual authentication, i.e. it takes two pieces of information to identify you as the real owner of an account, often with a password and passcode texted to your cell phone.
- When finished, log out completely and close your browser.
Don’t invite trouble:
- Never respond to an email that asks you to reveal personal information, such as account numbers, your Social Security number, or passwords/PINs.
- Don’t use your Social Security number as a username, password or PIN.
- Update your computer’s operating system with the current version that often addresses security vulnerabilities.
- Always read your monthly account statements, and alert your brokerage firm or bank if you see a transaction you didn’t authorize or if your statement doesn’t arrive.
- Check your credit report at CreditKarma.com at least once per year.
- Store financial records in a safe place, and shred documents containing sensitive information.
- Set up alerts with your credit card companies so that you get a text anytime a charge is made or anytime there is unusual activity.
- Request a copy of your Medical Report at the Medical Information Bureau at MIB.com.
- Consider using a password manager. See PC Magazine’s list of The Best Password Managers of 2017 at https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp.
“Cybersecurity: Protecting a Family Office.” Ernst & Young Global Limited. 2015
“Digital Deception: Current Trends in Cybercrime.” www.foremostadvice.com. February 1, 2017
“5 Ways to Make Your Financial Accounts More Secure.” The Alert Investor. February 28, 2017
“2 Scary Ways Scammers Are Stealing Your Identity Now.” Money Magazine. October 2016