October is “Cybersecurity Awareness Month” – therefore it’s a great time to revisit important safety reminders to protect yourself against common fraud and cyber-attacks, especially around finances.
The first step is to be aware of how to identify fraud attempts, so we have compiled a few visual examples here.
But in addition to knowing what to look for, there are three key steps that you can take to protect yourself.
1. Protect your personal information
- Enroll in an identity theft protection service. Do this proactively to safeguard personal data.
- Be wary of any unsolicited inbound phone calls. These include unexpected calls from potential tech support, government agencies, banks or other financial services firms, software companies, utility companies, or even supposed Litman Gregory employees. Never give information over the phone unless you are able to verify the caller is legitimate, which you can do by hanging up and calling back using the official number you have on file. (Or visiting their website and calling via their listed number.)The IRS and the Social Security Administration will not call you.
- Protect information on social media. Sharing too much information can make you susceptible to fraudsters and allow them to quickly pass a variety of tests related to the authentication of your personal information. Do not share details such as birthdates, home addresses, phone numbers, or social security numbers. And, consider whether to post pictures or comments that make it obvious you are away from your home.
2. Protect your accounts and passwords
- Protect your email account. Do not click on any links or open any attachments whatsoever unless you’re expecting the communication and you’re completely sure they are coming from legitimate sources. When in doubt, review the full email address in the “from” field to help determine if it could be from a fraudulent source.
- Safeguard account access. Use two-factor authentication when available. Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email. Deliver sensitive information through a secure means. If sharing with a Litman Gregory team member, you can use our secure client portal.
- Secure and use strong passwords. Use strong passwords (or passphrases) and do not use the same password for different accounts. (A strong password includes letters, possibly both caps and lower case, along with numbers and symbols.) Regularly reset your passwords, and do not store your passwords in email or other folders on your computer. Consider using a password manager program such as LastPass or 1Password.
3. Protect your devices
- Manage your devices. Always use the most up-to-date antivirus software and update software regularly. These programs are most effective when users set them to run regularly rather than just running periodic scans, which may not provide maximum protection to your device.
- Surf the web safely. Do not connect to the Internet via unsecured or unknown wireless networks, such as those in public locations like hotels, airports, libraries or cybercafés. These networks may lack virus protection, are highly susceptible to attacks, so should never be used to access confidential personal data.
Litman Gregory’s Polices to Protect Clients’ Financial Information
We have established policies and procedures for handling suspected/confirmed compromises to client accounts, which include:
- We train our team members regularly on cyber fraud topics and test employees using cyber fraud simulations.
- Our team will call our clients to verbally confirm and verify money transfers instructions and information.
- We may need to disable the ability for fund transfers or establishing new account numbers.
- We have established security policies and procedures to protect client sensitive data that include:
- Minimizing authorized access to the data
- Plan appropriate handling of data, device and network management
- Plan for physical security of data
For many years, we have aided clients as they navigate the threats of cybercrime and work to protect themselves from attempted security breaches. We remain focused on staying abreast of new ways that we, and our clients, can work to protect their identity and finances.
Please reach out to your advisor if you have any questions about how we can help you, or to better understand the steps that we’re taking to protect your information.