Cybercrime and fraud are serious threats and constant vigilance is key. While EKS Associates plays an important role in helping protect your assets, you can also take action to protect yourself and help secure your information. 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’re here to help.
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. A fraudster’s goal is to obtain information to gain access to 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.
Here are some ways you can protect your information and assets.
Prevent Fraud by Establishing Safe Communication Practices with Your Financial Planner
- Keep your financial planner and other trusted advisors (e.g., attorney, banker, and accountant) informed regarding changes to your personal information.
- Expect your financial planner to call you to confirm email requests to move money, trade, or change account information. This is a standard practice at EKS Associates.
- Establish a verbal password with your financial planner to confirm your identity, or request a video chat.
Precautions You Can Take to Prevent Identity Theft and Fraud
- Be aware of suspicious phone calls, emails, and texts asking you to send money or disclosure personal information. If an unknown service rep calls you, hang up and call back using a known phone number.
- Never share sensitive information or conduct business via email, as accounts are often compromised.
- Beware of phishing and malicious links. Urgent-sounding, legitimate-looking emails are intended to tempt you to accidentally disclose personal information or install malware.
- Don’t open links or attachments from unknown sources. Enter the web address in your browser.
- Check your email and account statements regularly for suspicious activity.
Exercise Caution When Moving Money to Prevent Theft
- Review and verbally confirm all disbursement request details thoroughly before providing your approval, especially when sending funds to another country. Never trust wire instructions received via email.
Protect Your Accounts by Adhering to Strong Password Principles
- Don’t use personal information as part of your login ID or password and don’t share login credentials.
- Create a unique, long passphrase, containing a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Or generate different complex passwords for every website you use.
- Change passwords every six months.
- Consider using a password manager to simplify this process.
Protect Your Accounts by Maintaining Updated Technology
- Keep your web browser, operating system, antivirus, and anti-spyware updated, and activate the firewall.
- Do not use free or found USB devices. They may be infected with malware.
- Check security settings on your applications and web browsers. Make sure they’re strong.
- Turn off Bluetooth when it’s not needed.
- Dispose of old hardware safely by performing a factory reset or removing and destroying all storage data devices.
Use Caution on Websites and Social Media
- Do not visit websites you don’t know (e.g., advertised on pop-up ads and banners).
- Log out completely to terminate access when exiting all websites.
- Don’t use public computers or free Wi-Fi. Use a personal Wi-Fi hotspot or a Virtual Private Network (VPM).
- Hover over questionable links to reveal the URL before clicking. Secure websites start with “https,” not “http.”
- Be cautious when accepting “friend” requests on social media, liking posts, or following links.
- Limit sharing information on social media sites. Assume fraudsters can see everything, even if you have safeguards.
- Consider what you’re disclosing before sharing or posting on social media.
What to do if You Suspect Identity Theft or Fraud
If you suspect you have been a victim of identity fraud or theft, call your financial planner immediately so they can monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. At EKS Associates, we can also help you navigate the other steps that need to be taken.