Once you have a plan in place to achieve and protect financial independence, you must stay vigilant to protect yourself from cybercrime and identity theft. According to the FBI and cyber security professionals, it is estimated that global cybercrime will be responsible for over $6 Trillion in damages in 2022 with over 33 billion accounts breached by 2023. Below are a couple of tips to help you avoid being a victim.
Avoid Disclosing Personal Information on Social Media
While this sounds like common sense, the way thieves piece together your information from social media may not be so obvious. Criminals will navigate through your social media and stitch together key details used to hack passwords, defeat security questions, and even exploit relatives into divulging even more sensitive information about you. Enjoy keeping up with family and friends on social media but take great care to keep your account private, delete posts made by friends divulging personal info (Happy 40th Birthday), and be smart about participating in surveys or posting personal information.
Be Suspicious of Every Email
Cybercriminals have become very good at slipping through our commonsense safeguards and getting us to click on things we shouldn’t. If you’re not expecting an email from someone, especially with embedded links or attachments, simply call the sender and verify the email is legitimate before clicking links or opening attachments. Be especially skeptical of unexpected password-reset emails or emails with links asking you to log in or to verify your information. Reputable businesses will not ask you for your username or password through email. To be safe, always navigate to websites related to your accounts directly by typing in the appropriate web address in a browser you open from your desktop or smartphone application.
Don’t Answer Unknown Numbers
The phone has become popular again as a source for exploiting the busy and unsuspecting. We’ve all been caught answering those warranty expiration calls because that unknown number seemed so familiar. Hackers also know how to get us to answer the phone and accidentally divulge personal information before we even know it. If a number is unknown, let it go to voicemail. 90% of the time, they won’t leave a message, but if they do you’ll be better positioned to screen the caller and determine the sincerity of the call. Even still, if you’re receiving an unexpected call from a business or person you are familiar with, don’t call the unknown number back, instead call the number of the business or person you’re familiar with directly especially if the caller is asking you to verify your personal or account information.
Your financial planner at CPS Investment Advisors or any of the custodians we work with will never ask you for log in or password information through email or an unsolicited call. If you are ever suspicious of an email or call related to any of your investment accounts, always give your advisor a call just to be safe!
Shawn J. McCabe | CFP®, MSA, MBA