Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Protecting Your Money: Stay Safe Online

Cybercrime is big business—and getting bigger. In 2011, the latest year for which numbers are available, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 300,000 complaints, with an adjusted dollar loss of over $485 million. And those numbers don’t even include the many crimes which go unreported.

While some scam attempts may seem obvious (assisting long-lost Nigerian princes, anyone?), con artists are getting more and more clever at getting what they want: your personal data, which can give them access to your assets.

As your wealth guardians, we will help you safeguard your information by posting a series of Internet security tips and reminders in the coming months.

Tip 1: Be suspicious of your e-mail!

Gone are the days when spam e-mail was easy to spot—through misspellings, poor layout, too-good-to-be-true promises, or other giveaways. Spammers have grown expert at impersonating companies and organizations that you know—from the Internal Revenue Service to your local bank.

What do they want? Your personal information: account numbers, and/or personal details such as your driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, etc. This type of fishing for information is known as “phishing.”

How can you protect yourself?
  • The first and most important step is relatively simple—be skeptical. Banks and other institutions, including Charles Schwab, do not ask for personal or account information via e-mail. If you’re not sure whether an e-mail is truly from a particular institution, call that institution on the phone (and don’t use a phone number given in the e-mail!) Be wary of any e-mails from companies or institutions that you don’t do business with.
  • If you’re getting a large number of suspicious e-mails, you may want to change your e-mail provider. Some providers have better spam filters than others.
  • Make sure you have an up-to-date web browser. The latest versions of major browsers include built-in filters that protect you against known phishing sites.
From Heidi Owata-Buskol
Director of Client Relations

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