Fraud, Identity Theft and You
In this Digital Age, most of us have become familiar with the term “identity theft.” Identity theft is a type of fraud committed by a perpetrator who assumes another person’s identity through the use of confidential information. This information can include financial account, identification and Social Security numbers. Most of us are also aware that perpetrators of fraud are often after our money, which is now—more so than ever before—monitored and traded online. This thought can be particularly unsettling since it removes a physical element of control.
At Affiance Financial, we take your financial security very seriously. Our compliance department works tirelessly to ensure policies and procedures are comprehensive enough to address all areas of concern. It is our belief that many security threats can be averted through a combination of awareness and proper procedure. In addition, our compliance officer is dedicated to providing the entire Affiance Team with ongoing training to help them identify and prevent fraud.
Identity theft criminals often use email as a source for procuring personal information. In fact, the financial industry has reported an increasing number of incidents where advisors have been targeted by criminals using email as a means to commit wire fraud. In some of these cases, the perpetrator has discovered confidential financial information or contact information for an advisor by searching the client’s email history. To combat this threat, Affiance Financial has a policy of sending all confidential files in a secure, password-protected format.
Finally, Affiance Financial has implemented new safety procedures to protect you and your assets. Any time a request for money is made via email, an Affiance Team Member will call you directly to verify the instructions stipulated to withdraw funds. Also, more than one team member will review wire requests, watching for any red flags such as rush requests for money, statements that the client is unavailable by phone, uncommon wording or grammatical mistakes. It is important to note that some cases of fraud originate overseas, enacted by individuals who may not have a firm grasp of the English language.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft, as well. Keep a keen watch on your email inbox, and:
• Always use unique passwords unaffiliated with your personal information for accounts and protected files.
• Beware of any “phishing” scams, or emails claiming to be from familiar companies or name brands asking for person identification or financial information. Large, reputable organizations will never ask for sensitive information, like Social Security numbers or bank account information, online.
• Beware of offers received—if they sound too good to be true, they most likely are.
• Never open attachments from senders you don’t know. This is how computer viruses and malware, or so-called “Trojan Horse” programs, are transmitted; these dangerous programs are used to transmit your information back to the criminals.
• Make sure you have your email provider’s spam filters turned on, to remove suspect emails from your inbox.
• Remove the “preview” function from your email inbox, as it can compromise security.
• Always use secure messaging when it’s available.
For more information about online identity theft, view the following video, “Don’t Be an Online Victim,” produced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC):