Ten Things You Can Do to Protect Your Accounts from Fraudulent Activity

Unfortunately, there are some who are taking advantage of the fear and heightened emotions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to steal personal information and dupe users into paying for fraudulent "charitable funds" or bogus "medical bills."

While you should always be careful and question all suspicious activities, it is even more critical to be extra vigilant during this period. Here are ten quick tips for you to ensure you are safeguarding your data and some helpful related articles below:

1. Protect your account information. If you need to give your advisor or others your account number, social security number or date of birth, try calling them first to confirm with whom you are speaking. If you have to use email, be sure to use encrypted email.

2. Do not repeat the same password for multiple sites and do not use really easy passwords. 

3. Use a password manager such as LastPass. Password managers are free tools that you can download to your computer that manage your passwords for you. You no longer have to remember complicated passwords, which frees you from the issue above.

4. Ask your custodian or bank if they offer two-factor authentication. This is a device or app that provides a unique number each time you log in to your account. We also recommend you doing this for any account that may hold personal information, such as your email and social media accounts.

5. Check your credit report regularly to ensure no one has taken out credit in your name.

6. Consider freezing your credit if you don’t plan to take out a loan in the next few years. You will need to do this at each of the three major credit bureaus: EquifaxTransUnion and Experian.

7. Keep your Social Security and Medicare cards in a secure location.

8. Don’t fall prey to phishing scams. If someone calls you on the phone telling you they’ve detected fraudulent activity on your behalf, do not give them your private information. The same goes for someone contacting you over email. No one will ever ask for your personal information over the phone or email so always hang up or ignore these attempts.

9. If your email or social media account is hacked, change your password immediately and notify pertinent parties.

10. Encourage your family to follow safe anti-fraud measures and monitor your childrens’ and elders’ accounts/information as they are oftentimes more prone to identity theft. Watch our recent seminar on elder financial abuse and how to prevent it.

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