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Cybercrime Is a Growing Threat

| September 14, 2015
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09/14/2015: Cybercrime is a Growing Threat 

Going online has become so popular that a majority of Americans now say they would have more trouble giving up the Internet than giving up television (although that may be because they can stream their favorite TV shows via the Internet).

Taking the good with the bad

There is little doubt that online communications have changed the world. On the positive side, the Internet allows people to gather and share information, facilitates marketing and sales of goods, supports communication in real time across great distances, and gives people the ability to get much more accomplished. On the negative side, the Internet may expose users to bullying, stalking, and privacy violations. In addition, the storage and transfer of electronic data–including personal information, credit card numbers, and other data–have led to a cyber crime wave.  

According to the 2015 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, 2014 was a mixed year in the fight against identity fraud, with some advances and some setbacks. The report found that fraudsters stole approximately $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers last year. With a new identity fraud victim every two seconds, there is still significant risk to consumers, particularly students. Encouragingly, new account fraud, when someone opens an account in your name that you are not aware of, hit a record low in 2014, but continues to be one on the most damaging types of fraud. 

An ounce of protection

Ben Franklin once wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is certainly the case when it comes to protecting your personal data. Here are a few suggestions for securing your personal information online:
  • Protect your accounts: Choose strong passwords that incorporate letters, numbers, and symbols and, just as importantly, do not use the same password for all of your accounts. If you’re prone to forgetting passwords, keep a password list in your safe or invest in security software that will track passwords for various sites and allow you to access them with a single password.
  • Look for security: If you make purchases online, be sure you have a secure connection. Look at the website address. If it starts with ‘https’ or shows a green box with a padlock, typically the connection is secure. It’s also essential to equip your computers and mobile devices with security software.
  • Set account alerts: Many banks, financial institutions, and credit monitoring agencies offer alerts to notify consumers when changes occur with their accounts. These alerts often are email notices.
  • Be wary: Be wary when using free Wi-Fi. It’s generally not a good idea to access financial accounts or password-protected sites on shared networks (free Wi-Fi gives you access to a shared network) because it is possible for hackers to track your actions. 
  • Control your data: Facebook may ask you to complete your profile every time you visit, but you really shouldn’t. It’s smart to limit the personal information–birthdays, pet’s and best friend’s names, addresses, and other data–you share on social media websites. This information can be used to answer security questions and gain access to accounts.
  • Read your bills: A lot of people pay their bills electronically and never take time to review the charges. No matter what type of payment option you employ, it’s critical to review every charge. Unexpected charges could be accidental, or they could be evidence that your data has been stolen. If you find a mistake, report it right away.
  • Use the HCM Client Vault: The HCM Client Vault is a secure way to store important documents that you want to keep protected. The dashboard provides up-to-date information about your portfolio. Client Services can safely send applications and other documents back and forth to you via the vault and you can store your account statements, tax returns, estate documents, and any other important files securely in your vault.
In the end, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved when going online and it is vital that you take appropriate precautions to protect your personal and financial information.  

Don’t forget that HCM will be hosting an Identity Theft & Elder Financial Abuse seminar on Wednesday, September 30th.  The event will be held at Maggiano’s in Kenwood from 10:30 to 1:30.  Space is limited, so please RSVP as soon as you can.  

RSVP to [email protected] or call 513-598-5120 or REGISTER HERE.

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