COVID-19 Scams and Hackers

April 28, 2020
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Now's the time to revisit online security

When there's a natural disaster or global health crisis, like the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may hear reports of an increased number of scams and other efforts by cybercriminals.

Keeping your information secure is always our priority and we protect and monitor your accounts in many ways. Rest assured, no one can move money out of your account without our knowing, but that may not be true with all of your financial accounts. Regardless, during this time, we all need to be vigilant about keeping personal and account information safe.  

We want to provide you with a reminder and things to consider as we hear COVID-19 scams are on the rise.

Here's how you can help increase the security of your bank and investment accounts regardless of the institution:

Protect Your Accounts:

1. Create a smart, custom password.

  • Make sure your password is unique and used only on your individual sites. As convenient as it may be, it is not recommended that you use the same password for all institutions and whether or not prompted, you should change your password every six months or so.
  • Longer passwords are stronger than shorter, more complex ones. We recommend using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that are meaningful only to you.

Tip: An easy way to make a memorable password is to create a sentence or phrase incorporating letters, numbers, and symbols. Example: IL0veTac0s:)

  • Always be wary of unsolicited requests for your personal information online, by email or by phone.
  • Don’t share user names, account numbers or passwords.

 2. Activate account activity and security notifications and keep your email up to date for online accounts, especially bank or brokerage accounts. They help you monitor your account and respond more quickly to prevent fraud because you are alerted immediately by email if changes to your account are initiated online including changes to personal information such as mailing address, email address, and statement delivery preference.

3. Sign up for paperless delivery of important documents.

 

Most institutions will notify you by email as soon as your statements, tax forms and other documents are available. With paperless delivery, you don’t have to worry about shredding papers, and documents will never get lost in the mail.

 

Protect Yourself Online

 When you are online, be it at home or while on the road, it is important to protect yourself from hackers and scams.

 

Be observant

  • Be cautious about clicking on links, especially in emails. Hover over links to see the underlying Web address. If you’re unsure about a link, you can go to the firm’s website by typing the correct address in your Web browser.
  • Look for “last login” date/time stamp when you log in to see if it corresponds to your most recent visit.
  • Sign up for a credit reporting service by contacting Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. If you find unauthorized accounts or charges, take the appropriate steps to make corrections if needed.

 

Keep your computer secure

  • Use the latest operating system available for your computers and devices and respond to software updates promptly.
  • Activate security features, such as pop-up blockers.
  • Consider installing antivirus software that detects and removes malicious software from your computer and keep it updated.
  • Set up a firewall to properly protect your personal computer and home network from malware.
  • Use the latest version of your web browser. Install security patches and software updates as soon as they are ready to install.

 

Avoid public computers and Wi-Fi

  • Only use a known device to access financial and other sensitive personal information online. Be careful with public sites such as those at airports, hotels or restaurants.
  • You should not assume the connection is as secure as it should be and being hacked remains a high possibility when using a public network utilized by dozens of people at a time.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access financial records, banking transactions or other sensitive and personal information.

 

Protect your physical documents

  • Promptly retrieve and secure incoming postal mail after delivery. Place outgoing mail in a U.S. postal service mailbox instead of your home mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft. Report all suspected mail theft to a postal inspector.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Store your card in a safe place, avoid giving the number to others and take measures to keep any other documents containing the number confidential.
  • Shred documents. Before discarding, destroy all credit card offers, bank statements, junk mail and any other documents that may contain personal information about you.