Tips for Preventing Fraud
Fraud and cybercrime are serious threats—but you can take practical steps to protect your identity and assets.
You can also have an impact on safeguarding your information and assets by following these guidelines and applying caution when sharing information and executing transactions. This checklist summarizes common cyber fraud tactics, along with tips, best practices, and actions to take if you suspect a breach.
Ways to protect your information and assets
Safe practices for working with your advisor
■ Talk with your advisor to understand how they protect your information and assets
■ Keep your advisor informed of changes to your personal information
■ Expect your advisor or their office to call you to confirm email requests to trade, move money, or change account information
■ Establish a verbal password with your advisor’s firm to confirm your identity—or request a video chat
Follow general best practices
■ Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited phone calls, emails, and texts asking you to send money or disclose personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, then call the client back, using a known contact number.
■ Be cautious when sharing sensitive information and conducting personal or confidential business via email because it can be compromised and used to facilitate identity theft.
■ Do not disclose on social media sites personal or sensitive information, such as your birth date, contact information, and mother’s maiden name.
■ Be cautious when receiving money movement instructions via email. Call the sender at their known number (not a number provided in the email) to verbally validate all instruction details before following instructions or providing your approval.
■ Protect yourself from phishing attempts and malicious links (see glossary for additional information).
■ Check your email and account statements regularly for suspicious activity.
■ Do not verbally disclose or enter confidential information on a laptop or mobile device in public areas where someone could potentially see, hear, or access your information.
■ Verify payment requests you receive by phone or email. Requests for payment using gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or digital currency are frequently associated with fraud or scams.
Keep your technology up-to-date
■ Keep your web browser and operating system up-to-date and be sure you’re using appropriate security settings. Old software, operating systems, and browsers are more susceptible to attack.
■ Install anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spyware software on all computers and mobile devices.
■ Enable the security settings on your applications and web browser.
■ Do not use free or found USB thumb drives—they could be infected with viruses or malware.
■ Turn off Bluetooth when it’s not needed, to protect against individuals gaining access to your devices using Bluetooth connections.
■ Safely and securely dispose of old hardware.
Be cautious with public networks
■ Avoid using public computers. If you must use one, go to the browser settings and clear the browser history (cache) and cookies when you’re finished.
■ Use only wireless networks you trust or that are protected with a secure password.
■ Use your personal Wi-Fi hotspot instead of public Wi-Fi.
■ Do not accept software updates if you are connected to public Wi-Fi.
Be strategic with your login credentials and passwords
■ Do not use personal information such as your Social Security number or birth date as part of your user ID.
■ Create a unique password for each financial institution with which you do business; use passwords that are long and contain a combination of characters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a password manager to create, manage, and store passwords that are unique and secure.
■ Do not share your passwords.
■ Use two-step verification whenever possible.
Be sure you’re on a secure website
■ Check the URL to see whether it’s a secure connection. Secure sites begin with https rather than http and are generally considered safer.
■ Check the address bar for site validity indicators whenever you log in to a website. Some browsers use green text or security symbols to indicate a secure and verified site.
■ Download apps only from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
■ Do not visit websites you don’t know—such as advertised in pop-up ads and banners.
■ Log out completely to terminate access when you’ve completed a secure session, such as for online banking or a credit card payment.
Beware of phishing
■ Do not click on links or attachments in emails and text messages if you question the validity of the sender. Instead, type the real web address in your browser.
■ Hover over questionable links to reveal the site’s full URL and see where the link really goes. Do not click on links that don’t match the sender or don’t match what you expect to see.
■ Be suspicious of emails that have grayed-out Cc: and To: lines—they may have been sent to a mass distribution list.
■ Check the sender’s domain name in the email address to see if it matches what you would expect to see.
■ Activate the spam filters in your email settings to help prevent unsolicited emails from going to your inbox.
malware - Software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.
password manager - An encrypted online or cloud-based program that generates, retrieves, and keeps track of random passwords across countless accounts and also protects information such as passwords, PINs, credit card numbers and their three-digit CVV codes, and answers to security questions.
phishing - The fraudulent practice of sending emails or text messages appearing to be from reputable companies or trusted individuals in an attempt to get users to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing attempts are usually legitimate-looking, urgent-sounding emails or texts designed to trick you into disclosing personal information or installing a virus on your device. These scams can be sent as attachments or links that, when opened or clicked, may trigger malicious activity or take you to fake websites that resemble legitimate business sites.
spam filter - A program that detects unsolicited and unwanted emails and prevents them from reaching your inbox. Usually these types of emails are instead routed to a spam or junk folder.
two-step verification - A method of confirming your identity using a second step to verify who you are. For example, the first step might be to enter your user ID and password, and the second step might be to enter a randomly generated number sent to you via email, text, token, or phone call. Also known as multi-factor authentication.