Protecting Your Accounts from Thieves

Did you see USA Today‘s report where a would-be thief tried to dupe a financial advisor into making a withdrawal from a client’s account? The impersonating e-mail carried instructions to wire $15,850 into an account at PNC Bank and was worded in a casual style similar to old e-mails the financial advisor had received from his executive client. Luckily, the advisor phoned his client and the fraudulent request was exposed.

Red flags we watch for were part of this attempted theft – a balance inquiry via e-mail followed by an unexpected disbursement request via e-mail and the “client” offering excuses for not being able to talk on the phone.

Obviously knowing our clients’ voices and their spending patterns also deters theft. And because as TD Ameritrade cautions, “Fraudsters prey on our natural service instincts,” we carefully review all requests for funds.

What can you do to help us? The FDIC offers these tips:

  • Ensure your transactions are encrypted. Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access. To show that your transmission is encrypted, some browsers display a small icon on your screen that looks like a “lock” or a “key” whenever you conduct secure transactions online. Avoid sending sensitive information, such as account numbers, through unsecured e-mail.
  • Choose your passwords carefully. Your password should be unique to you and you should change it regularly. Do not use birthdates or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess.
  • Protect your personal computer with virus protection. Contact your hardware and software suppliers or Internet service provider to ensure you have the latest in security updates.

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