Cyber security and identity theft have been creating headlines in 2014 following major security breaches at companies including Target, Ebay and Neimen Marcus. Advisory firms and custodians are similarly experiencing unprecedented levels of actual and attempted cyber fraud. The explosion of internet commerce and increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals is prompting enhanced vigilance at BSW to protect your privacy and ensure the authenticity of your requests to transfer funds.
In support of these efforts, BSW hosted the “Hoodlums to Hackers” event at the St. Julien hotel in Boulder. Retired FBI special agent Jeff Lanza, who specializes in cyber-crime and identity theft protection, headlined the event. Starting with methods to protect your personal information, Jeff explained:
- Do NOT carry your social security card in your wallet or purse and take extra precaution regarding anything that might list your social security number, especially your Medicare card.
- If you think your information may have been compromised, immediately freeze your credit cards and submit a fraud alert to the major credit-reporting companies (see attachment for details).
Jeff then detailed strategies to protect sensitive documents:
- Do NOT put the flag up on your mailbox to signal outgoing mail. It may alert the mailman but it also signals to crooks that you may be sending sensitive information.
- Sign up for electronic delivery of bills and bank statements, which is generally more secure than physical mail.
- Properly shred documents using a diamond or cross-cut fashion; a simple strip shredder is no longer sufficient because your information can still be recovered.
Continuing on to communication security, Jeff outlined recommendations for safe smartphone and computer usage:
- On your smartphone, use screen locks along with GPS locating and wiping apps. Having a password on your phone
gives you time to locate your device if it has been lost or to wipe the data clean if it has been stolen.
- Use Google Chrome on your computer, along with the most up to date security software and secure settings.
- Use credit cards rather than debit cards when making online transactions. Fraudulent charges on a credit card are easier to recover.
- When browsing Ebay, Craigslist, and dating sites, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true – they usually are. Once a transaction is completed online, it can be remarkably difficult to reclaim the money.
- NEVER click on a link embedded in an email or on a website you don’t know, they are frequently not what they appear to be. Always go directly to the actual site you wish to access by typing directly in the address bar.
Finally, Jeff shared recommendations on passwords, social media and phishing phone calls:
- Use a secure password (one with lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols) because it drastically improves the security of your account.
- If you need to have a similar password you can remember, develop one password for all of your social media logins, plus a DIFFERENT secure password for all financial-related logins.
As more aspects of our lives continue to gravitate online, protecting yourself from identify theft and internet fraud is both crucial and increasingly challenging. BSW strives to protect our clients’ personal and financial information from these risks, and will continue to devote the time and resources needed to stay a step ahead of the hackers and hoodlums.
Attached, please find a comprehensive summary of Jeff’s recommendations including, tools and tips from the event – click the links below, we promise its safe!
-Aaron Estevez-Miller & Will Zimmerman, Summer Associates
-Drew Simon, Principal
Fraud Prevention Materials: