Safeguarding your assets can be accomplished by implementing steps that can take you from being exposed to being protected. Here are a few ways that you can improve your chances of avoiding the unnecessary headache of having information about you and your personal finances in the wrong hands.
Identity Theft Can Occur in Many Ways:
- Keystroke-logging Software – Technology that captures user names and passwords by distributing programs through instant messages, emails, or freeware.
- “Phish-ing Emails – Phony emails that appear to come from a financial institution asking for an account number, password, or Social Security number. Usually sensitive information would not be requested via email.
- Dumpster Diving – The recovery of discarded account statements or other records that haven’t been properly shredded can be linked back to you and your personal information.
How Can I Protect Myself When I Access My Financial Information Online?
- Protect passwords and PINs. Make them strong and long– use numbers/letters and symbols. Change them regularly, and do not share them with others.
- Maintain computer security. Personal firewalls and security software (with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features) are a must for anyone who engages in online financial transactions. For laptops, be sure to use encryption software.
- Use your own computer. Avoid using public computers for accessing your financial accounts. Public computers may contain software that captures passwords and PINs.
- Log out completely. Always click the “log out” button after accessing your financial institution’s website. Access may not be terminated if you simply close or minimize your browser or type in a new web address.
- Be prudent when using wireless connections. Wireless networks may not provide as much security as wired connections. Many “hotspots” – wireless networks in public areas such as airports, hotels, restaurants – reduce their security settings to make it easier for users to access these networks. This increases the possibility of someone intercepting your information. If you use your own wireless network, ensure that you secure the network with wireless encryption.
- Check for secure sites. A secure site has a key or closed padlock in the status bar, and the web address starts with “https” instead of just “http.”
- Be careful when downloading. Download software, files, and attachments only from sites or senders you know to avoid loading spyware or other malicious programs.
- Don’t respond to emails requesting personal information. Legitimate institutions will never request this information via an email. If you are unsure, call the company yourself using the contact information you have on your statements, not the information in the email!
Always check your statements to be sure they are correct. You should also safeguard your social security number and confidential documents by storing them in a secure place. All confidential documents should be shredded if you no longer need them. Aldrich Wealth LP helps our clients protect and grow their financial assets for the future, by helping them make smart financial decisions today. If you would like assistance in determining your retirement needs, please call Aldrich Wealth at 888-299-3102 to speak with a financial advisor.
Meet the Author
Partner, Director of Corporate Retirement Plans
Heather Wonderly, AIF®, CPFA
Heather has been working in the investment field since 2000. She provides guidance to 401(k) pension committees, helping them understand investments, compliance, fiduciary responsibility, and administration for corporate retirement plans. She also provides ongoing employee education to plan participants. She holds an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® and Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor credentials and has also completed the…
- Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor
- Series 7 and Series 66 security exams
- Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
- Corporate retirement plans