Identity theft and financial fraud are all too common and seem to be occurring with increasing frequency. While there may not be a perfect method of insulation, upgrading your financial cybersecurity tactics is a great place to start. Here are a few tips.
Devise a password strategy
Complex and intricate passwords are one of your best protection mechanisms against identity theft and financial fraud. Unfortunately, too many people become complacent with either using easy passwords (birthdays, anniversaries, or maiden names) or deploying the same passwords over and over.
Ensure every password tied to individual financial accounts is not only unique, but that it contains a combination of letters (both upper- and lower-case), various numbers, and symbols. Additionally, get in the habit of updating all passwords and financial pins (e.g. debit card) on a regular basis.
Seeing that there is already a tendency to overshare on the internet, be sure that you are overly protective of personal and financial information. In many cases, it only takes one tidbit for hackers to gain access.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid divulging your social security number. Also exercise caution on both social media and email platforms when sharing your date of birth, telephone number, credit/debit card numbers, and anything pertaining to bank accounts and financial institutions. And when shopping online or browsing unfamiliar sites, take some extra time to verify that everything is legitimate before entering sensitive information.
Keep a watchful eye
Keeping vigilant watch over all things financial is critically important. If you aren’t already in the habit, regularly review both online statements and credit reports for anything extraneous or out of the ordinary. It’s also prudent to closely monitor account balances. Remember, hackers will sometimes withdraw money in smaller (less noticeable) increments in an effort to fly under the radar. Consider saving all transaction receipts and crosschecking each account to ensure funds are properly added or withdrawn.
According to study from the University of Maryland, one computer is hacked every 39 seconds. A commitment to upgrading financial cybersecurity protocols can truly make a positive difference for your finances and protect your investments for the future.
A Chartered Financial Consultant® and seasoned financial advisor with more than 30 years of experience, Kathy is the founder and leader of The Roeser Group at Morgan Stanley. She has dedicated her entire career to serving the financial needs of successful executives and multi-generational families around the country.
Kathy’s successful practice emphasizes a three-pronged strategy that includes a goals-based approach to financial planning, tailored investment management solutions, and a commitment to providing outstanding service. She focuses on what is most important to each family, so she can develop a customized plan designed to build, preserve, and transition their wealth.
Kathy Roeser is a Managing Director and Wealth Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Chicago. The information contained in this column is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC. Sources available upon request.