October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a coordinated effort to encourage individuals and businesses to protect themselves and their customers online. Transacting online has become a way of life, and cyber thieves are becoming increasingly creative in their methods. From “phishing and smishing” (via fraudulent emails and texts), to “vishing” (phony phone calls or voice mail messages pretending to be from a reputable company or organization to hack personal information), to “catfishing” (scammers who use a false identity to target specific victims), it’s important to stay alert! Some helpful tips include:
Be on the lookout for information thieves. Reputable organizations do not ask for personal or financial information or payments of cash, gift cards, or other untraceable funds by email, text, or phone. If you receive a request like this, do not respond, regardless of how urgent it seems. Instead, contact the organization directly by going to its website to find its official contact information.
Your birthday is not a good password! We all have a lot going on in our lives and remembering passwords is just one more daunting task. However, using a simple password based on personal information, such as a birthday, phone number, or address, makes it easy for hackers to steal your information. Protect yourself by setting strong passwords, with random combinations of numbers and letters (in lower and upper case) and special characters. Most devices provide the ability to select randomly generated passwords, which are very difficult for a cyber thief to steal. Multi-factor identification, which requires you to enter a unique code each time you log in, makes it even tougher for a hacker to gain access. Use a different password for each account so that if one password is stolen, the others are still safe. A password manager app or vault can help ease the burden of remembering all your passwords!
Keep your private business private. It’s often convenient to do a little online shopping while hanging out at a coffee shop or waiting for a flight at the airport. Unfortunately, bad actors are out there just waiting for opportunities like these to access to your personal information. Always use a secure, password-protected private network to transact any business that requires you to provide personal information or financial account numbers that could be used to steal your identity or your money.
Keep a close eye on your credit card statements and your financial accounts to quickly identify any unusual or unrecognized activity. If you detect what you believe is fraud, it’s wise to freeze your credit to stop others from opening an account in your name. (You can unfreeze your credit temporarily if you need to open a credit account or obtain a mortgage or loan). Check your credit scores regularly to see if there have been any unusual changes. Several credit rating agencies, such as Experian
, allow you to check your score for free and many banks and credit card providers also make that information available to account holders. Most banks and credit card companies also have real-time transaction alerts where you receive a call, text, and/or email if their systems suspect fraudulent activity in your account.
Keep your devices updated and protected.
Make sure the latest version of applications and operating systems are installed on your computer, phone, and other devices. Updated versions often include patches to combat the latest identified security threats. In addition, using antivirus and malware detection software and strong firewalls will deter cyber attackers seeking easy access. We encourage you to review our helpful guide, Preventing Fraud: Steps to safeguard your assets
, our insights, Your Cybersecurity Questions Answered
and More Cybersecurity Questions Answered
, and webinars
we have held with cyber experts, for tips on staying cyber safe.
If you think you may have been a victim of attempted fraud, theft, or cyber-attack, contact Klingenstein Fields Advisors and your other financial institutions immediately. We are here to help. For more information, please contact us directly at 212.492.7000 or email us at email@example.com
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