Biondo Investment Advisors recently hosted an educational event focusing on simple and effective ways our clients can protect themselves from cybercriminals. The keynote speaker, Gary Rossi, is a 14-year veteran of the FBI and now heads up the Security Services group at Fidelity Investments. Gary stated, “What most people have regarding identity theft is a strategy of hope. They hope that it never happens to them.”
The following are some simple, yet effective ways to protect you and your family from the predators that are out there, on a daily basis, attempting to take your identity and, more importantly, your hard-earned assets.
- Two-factor authentication. This is the process in which a text or call is sent after the initial log-in to verify you are who you say you are. Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security, and makes it much more difficult for the bad guys to gain access to your accounts. Unauthorized users will be unable to meet the second authentication requirement, and will generally move on to another account that does not have this in place. Set up two-factor authentication on all of your financial, banking, cell phone and email accounts.
- Use strong, unique passwords for the accounts listed above and do not use these same passwords across other accounts. Also, consider using a password manager; learn more at: www.cnet.com/how-to/best-password-manager/.
- Use anti-virus software and a firewall to protect your home and portable devices from malware and unauthorized access. These tools can help prevent malicious software from infiltrating your computer and causing harm.
- Consider freezing your credit on the three major agencies: Equifax, Transunion and Experian. A credit freeze means you — or others — won’t be able to open a new credit account while the freeze is in place. You can temporarily lift the credit freeze if you need to apply for new credit.
- Finally, secure access to your social media accounts and utilize all privacy settings available within those platforms. Most of them do offer two-factor authentication.
These strategies are ones that we recommend the entire family complete, to create consistency of practice and implementation. Unfortunately, cybercriminals may already possess your personal information, but taking these measures will greatly reduce your risk of being a victim of identity theft.
We have additional resources available here at Biondo Investment Advisors regarding this topic. Please reach out to your Wealth Advisor if you are interested in learning more. As always, we strive to be the resource for your entire financial well-being and we thank you for your continued trust and confidence in us.
Karl A. Wagner, III
Partner, Senior Wealth Advisor