Are you Protected From Pickpockets?
You may scoff at the idea of pickpockets, but they are all around you now. Would you leave your purse or wallet unguarded in a crowded shopping mall while you walked out of sight? The answer is likely no. So, why would you leave your identity unprotected and spread across the internet, awaiting a thief to come along and take whatever they wanted from you?
When Equifax was breached, we recommended that you freeze your credit. But long before that, we’ve been all but begging you to take cyber security very, very seriously. We are continually educating ourselves- Kelly and Charli spent time at a Financial Planning Association class and Stephanie retained some additional training at the KC Estate Symposium this month. We all walked away shaking a bit, but with some common-sense tips to share with you. Hopefully, we can start to inspire you today and in our summer meetings since we have updated tools we will share as we focus on risk management and estate planning. Until we meet, we have a checklist for you to start working on:
- Freeze Your Credit Already! There are actually 4 credit bureaus that you should lock it down with- Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and also Innovis. Yes, it’s a pain, and you HAVE to remember your password when you do it. But the risk of people setting up loans in your name is far worse than the hassle it will be to lock it down.
- Protect Your Passwords. This is critical. Your most important passwords are for your financial institutions, but even more importantly, your email. Hacking into your email gives criminals the ability to surf your emails to find out critical banking and other information about you that can be used to steal your money and identity. Consider making these passwords passphrases that are long- something like “Ilovemoviesfromthe60s!” They are harder for a hacker to break, but easier for you to remember. Change them regularly. Don’t use the same password for different sites. Don’t forget a password for your phone- after all, it is a small computer.
- Don’t Email Private Documents. We can’t believe how many people will still email items with their social security number on it. Please find another way. We offer a secure portal. Most professionals have a way to pass this information securely, but if you choose not to use it because of the hassle, you are putting yourself at risk.
- Keep Your Firewalls and Anti-Virus and Software Updates Up to Date. If you can’t articulate how you are protecting your email, home computer and work computer, you shouldn’t be using it until you do. This may sound crazy, but it is the equivalent of leaving your purse on a table at a mall food court and walking away. “Come and Get Me!”
- Never, Never, Never Click on Email Links You Aren’t Looking For. In fact, before clicking on the ones you are expecting, “hover” your curser over the email link. The real link will show up right above the curser. If these don’t match, delete the email immediately. If you get a notice, and you aren’t sure, go to the internet and go directly to the website yourself – don’t click the email link to get there. We have had more than one client click an email that looked like it was from their bank, only to turn over their bank account information to cyberthieves who emptied them out.
- Set Up Your Social Security Account On-Line. This is a newer form of theft, as people are stealing your identity and filing for your social security benefits. This is a mess like you have never seen to clean up. Again, don’t forget that password (or passphrase- see, you are already making progress!)
- Don’t Carry What You Don’t Need. You don’t need to carry all of your identifications and financial information with you. Just carry what you need with you at the time. We are always surprised that people carry their social security card with them. Keep anything unnecessary in a fire proof, water proof safe at home.
- Protect Your Medical Information. This is another new form of fraud- people stealing other people’s health insurance. It’s all funny until you find out your appendix needs to come out and your insurance company paid for that for someone pretending to be you back in 2016.
- Pay Attention to Your Accounts. We know you are busy and don’t want to check your investment and bank accounts daily. But you should have logon access to it and check it regularly. You can sign up for alerts, as well, that notify you of purchases you wouldn’t normally make or suspicious transactions.
- Shop Local and Stay Calm. If you have a great face to face relationship with as many of the financial institutions that serve you, that will be a tremendous help to you. Further, criminals try to get you to panic and respond. Stay calm with that phone call or email you receive. Hang up on the call or ignore the email and call the institution directly with the number you have on file- not one they give you. Talk to the person you know best, not the person who contacted you that you have never met.
We want you to take care of all of your personal information and protect everything you have. We can lead you to water, but we can’t make you drink. The choice will be yours, however, after everything is said and done, being proactive is the best way to protect you, your loved ones, and what you’ve worked so hard to build.
In 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud. (Javelin’s 2018 Identity Fraud Report)
You’ve Got A Lot of Work to Do
By Stephanie Guerin, CFP®
You don’t have time to read one more article – get to work on the stuff up above to protect yourself from identity theft already. Go do one thing on that list. You’ll be proud of yourself after.
“Obviously crime pays, or there’d be no crime.” ~ G. Gorden Liddy
Market Update: More of the Same
4-30-18 YTD Dow : -1.6 %
4-30-18 YTD S&P 500: -.4 %
4-30-18 YTD World EX US All Cap: .3 %
4-30-18 YTD US Agg Bond: -2.2 %
The market still seems to be volatile on a day by day basis right now. The point swings have been highlighted on the local news, but not necessarily the percentage swings (which would be a smaller story of interest, and possibly not fuel ratings and advertising dollars as much). Just as a reminder, assuming you are cashed up and/or have good income, should we end up with a negative market this year, there are ways to take advantage of it. It can mean opportunities for IRA Conversions, tax loss harvesting, buying low, and sometimes even lower required minimum distributions for the following year. This is only to point out that a smart investor, in our opinion, looks for opportunity every where and invests for the long run, not short-term upswings. Happy Roller Coaster Riding!