If you are an investor, you probably appreciate the convenience of managing your accounts online. But you’ll also want to make sure that you don’t make it easy for hackers, “phishers”, and other bad guys to gain access.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to protect your privacy. Here are some suggestions offered by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission:
Use a strong password or passphrase. You’ll want to choose a password that would be virtually impossible for anyone to guess, using upper and lower case letters, as well as symbols and numbers. Of course, you’ll want to save the password somewhere safe so you won’t forget it. Instead of using a password, you may have the option of choosing a passphrase, which contains a series of linked words. You’ll want to avoid phrases that are popular culture or that are commonly used. And it’s also a good idea not to use sentences that contain your name, date of birth, or other personal identifiers.
Activate alerts for your account. When you activate alerts for your account, you will receive text messages or emails informing you of certain activities, such as account logins, unsuccessful login attempts, personal information changes, money transfers, adding or removing external financial accounts, etc. These alerts can help you monitor your accounts for fraud and verify your own movements.
Avoid using public computers to access investment accounts. If you are in a hotel or library, try to avoid the temptation to use the computer to verify your investments. But if you are using a public computer, at least take the necessary precautions. For starters, don’t leave any data on a screen and go, even for a moment. And when you are done with the computer, log out of your account to end the online session. You can also change any password you have used.
Ignore suspicious links. Beware of emails or texts containing links claiming to be related to your investment accounts. These links could lead you to websites designed to solicit sensitive account information, which could then be used for financial or identity theft purposes. Even if the link appears to be from a company you know, you will need to be fairly careful: experienced “phishers” can now create websites or online documents that look real. And keep in mind that legitimate investment firms won’t ask you to disclose personal information without going through the password or two-step authentication protocols already described.
The ability to log into your investing accounts online can be of great help to you – and you’ll feel more comfortable with these interactions if you know you’ve done everything possible to protect your information.
This article was written by Edward Jones for your local Edward Jones financial advisor.