October is cybersecurity awareness month, and with more of our daily activities being conducted online since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic it is a good time to revisit important safety reminders to protect yourself against common fraud and cyber-attacks, especially around your finances.
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Know what to look for. Click here to see visual examples of fraud attacks and the tricks to spot them.
- 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.
- Protect all 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.
- Protect 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Other helpful tips:
- Be wary of any unsolicited inbound phone calls potentially from tech support, government agencies, banks and 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.)
- Remember that the IRS and the Social Security Administration will not call you.
- Proactively enroll in an identity theft protection service to safeguard personal data.
Here is what Litman Gregory does to protect your financial information:
- We have established policies and procedures for handling suspected/confirmed client account compromises, which may include disabling the ability for fund transfers or establishing new account numbers.
- In many cases, especially around money transfers, our team will call you to verbally verify instructions and information.
- We train our team members regularly on cyber fraud topics and test employees using cyber fraud simulations.
- We have established security policies and procedures to protect client sensitive data that include minimizing authorized access to the data, appropriate handling of the data, device and network management, and physical security.
For many years, we have aided clients as they navigate the threats of cybercrime and work to protect themselves from attempted security breaches. Looking forward, 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 Litman Gregory Advisor if you have any questions about how we can help you, and the steps that we’re taking to protect your information.