Cyber criminals exploit our increasing reliance on technology. 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. Constant vigilance is key. This checklist summarizes common cyber fraud tactics, along with tips and best practices. Many suggestions may be things you’re doing now, while others may be new. We also cover actions to take if you suspect that your personal information has been compromised. If you have questions, we are here to help.
How We Can Work Together to Protect Your Information and Assets
Keep us informed regarding changes to your personal information.
Expect us to call you to confirm email requests to move money, trade, or change account information.
Establish a verbal password with our firm to confirm your identity or request a video chat.
How Your Custodian Protects Your Account
Our custodians, Schwab and Fidelity, takes your security seriously and leverages protocols and policies to help protect your financial assets. Below are actions you can take to reinforce their efforts and resources to assist you in keeping your account safe:
Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited phone calls, emails, and texts asking you to send money or disclose personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, do not accept it, hang up, and call back using a known contact number.
Be cautious when sharing sensitive information and conducting personal or confidential business via email, since it can be compromised and used to facilitate identity theft.
Do not disclose personal or sensitive information on social media sites, such as your birthdate, contact information, and mother’s maiden name.
Be cautious when receiving money movement instructions via email. Call the sender at their known number (not a number provided in the email) to validate all instruction details verbally before following instructions or providing your approval.
Protect yourself from phishing attempts and malicious links.
Check your email and account statements regularly for suspicious activity.
Do not verbally disclose or enter confidential information on a laptop or mobile device in public areas where someone could potentially see, hear, or access your information.
Verify payment requests you receive by phone or email. Requests for you to make payments using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or digital currency are frequently associated with fraud or scams.
Keep your Technology Up to Date
Keep your web browser and operating system up to date and be sure you’re using appropriate security settings. Old software, operating systems, and browsers can be susceptible to attack.
Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers and mobile devices.
Enable the security settings on your applications and web browser.
Do not use free or found USB thumb drives—they could be infected with viruses or malware.
Turn off Bluetooth when it’s not needed, to protect against individuals gaining access to your devices using Bluetooth connections.
Safely and securely dispose of old hardware.
Be Cautious with Public Networks
Avoid using public computers. If you must use one, go to the browser settings and clear the browser history (cache) and cookies when you’re finished.
Only use wireless networks you trust or that are protected with a secure password.
Use your personal Wi-Fi hotspot instead of public Wi-Fi.
Do not accept software updates if you are connected to public Wi-Fi.
Be Strategic with your Login Credentials and Passwords
Do not use personal information such as your Social Security number or birthday as part of your login ID.
Create a unique password for each financial institution you do business that are long and contain a combination of characters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a password manager to create, manage, and store passwords that are unique and secure.
Do not share your passwords.
Use two-step verification whenever possible.
Be Sure you’re on a Secure Website
Check the URL to see if it’s a secure connection. Secure sites begin with https rather than http, and are generally considered safer.
Check the address bar for site validity indicators whenever you log in to a website. Some browsers use green text or security symbols to indicate a secure and verified site.
Download apps only from the Google Play™ Store or the Apple App Store®.
Do not visit websites you don’t know—for example, websites advertised on pop-up ads and banners.
Log out completely to terminate access when you’ve completed a secure session, such as with online banking or a credit card payment.
Beware of Phishing
Do not click on links or attachments in emails and text messages if you question the validity of the sender. Instead, type the real web address, for example https://www.schwaballiance.com, in your browser.
Hover over questionable links to reveal the site’s full URL and see where the link really goes. Do not click on links that don’t match the sender or don’t match what you expect to see.
Be suspicious of emails that have grayed-out Cc: and To: lines—they may have been sent to a mass distribution list.
Check the sender’s domain name in the email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if it matches what you would expect to see.
Activate the spam filters in your email settings tab. This will help prevent unsolicited emails from coming to your inbox.
Visit these sites for more information and best practices:
Call our office or your financial institution immediately so that they can watch for suspicious activity and collaborate with you on other steps to take.
Freeze your credit. Freezing your credit reports prevents criminals from taking out credit cards or loans in your name.
Disclosure: BFSG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to BFSG’s web site or blog or incorporated herein and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Please see important disclosure information here.
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