After major security breaches at national retailer Target and other companies, cybersecurity concerns are once again in the public eye, leading some consumers to worry that their brokerage and other financial accounts could be at risk.
“There’s a risk that cyber thieves could hack into your account and wire money to their own accounts, or make unauthorized trades to manipulate security prices,” warns writer Priya Anand, consumer fraud reporter at MarketWatch.
Every other month, a client calls us to report a potential security breach, ranging from unauthorized use of a bank or credit card, to theft of a tax refund, to loss of a laptop or other item containing confidential data.
As with all security matters, it’s important to be vigilant and follow proper procedures to minimize any damage.
Our clients may already be aware of the enhanced security procedures our firm has adopted to protect their accounts from potential wire fraud and other attacks (if you’re not, call us for details).
Clients should also be aware of Schwab’s Security Guarantee under which Schwab will cover 100% of any losses in any of your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. Charles Schwab is, of course, the primary custodian used by our firm to safeguard client assets.
Schwab has a full suite of security measures – called SchwabSafe – designed to keep your personal and financial information safe online.
Here’s 9 top security tips for keeping you, and your data, safe:
1). Never log onto your financial accounts from a public computer or via an unsecured public wireless network, such as one in a coffee shop or other public place.
2). Don’t use your email address or Social Security number as your login for any banking or investment account.
3). Update your computer, activate your computer’s firewall, and install anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
4). Secure your account and devices with strong passwords, and practice two-factor authentication using a token, a small device that creates a six-digit number that serves as an additional password every time you log in. Schwab customers may order a free token by calling 800-435-4000.
5). Keep your login ID and password confidential. (Note: Many security guarantees will not apply if your account is hacked by someone you’ve shared the account login information with.)
6). Secure, or shred, all confidential documents in paper form.
7). Check your account statement monthly to confirm individual assets, trades and transactions.
8). Don’t click on official looking email links falsely claiming to be from your financial institutions. Securities regulators caution these could be “phishing” attacks—scams that use spam email or a fake website to lure you into revealing your bank or brokerage account information, passwords or PINs, or other confidential information.
9). Contact Schwab or your investment adviser if you suspect any unauthorized activity. On many occasions, when contacted by clients, we’ve been able to implement special and immediate anti-fraud measures to keep their brokerage accounts safe, even when a credit or bank account has already been hacked. We can also advise clients of possible “next steps,” such as alerting the appropriate credit bureaus or government agencies.