One of the things that we spend a lot of time doing is making sure that we are up to date on new policies, technology, and security. Last week I attended a session on cyber security given by a retired FBI agent. I generally think of cyber security as something that big companies struggle with to keep their client’s information safe but it actually applies to everyone. Here is some great information:
- Keep your credit frozen and any minor’s credit frozen. When you need to use it, go back to the credit company (Experian etc.) and unfreeze it. That way no one but you can use your credit or your kids’ credit.
- Protecting your social security account: make sure you have an online account so that you can monitor when you get your checks and where the money is going. Watch out for spoofed calls from the Social Security Administration. Never give your information to anyone who calls YOU. Hang up and call the official number for the SSA.
- Snail mail: (Not "cyber" security but still good information) Never put your flag up on your mailbox. This is a notice to scammers that you may have outgoing checks in your mailbox to pay bills. Write all checks with gel pens instead of ballpoint pens. It makes check fraud much harder. Better yet, pay your bills online. Shred any mail that has any personal information on it like your name, birthdate, workplace, etc.
- COVID scams: these have been catching people by surprise the last few months. Don’t give any information to anyone who calls or emails you. Don’t click on any links. Call your doctor or any charitable institutions directly.
- IRS Scams: At last count there were over 15,000 fake IRS websites designed to trick you into giving scammers money. The official website is irs.gov. The IRS will never call you or email you. If you owe taxes they will send you a letter in the mail. Never login through a link sent to you via email. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Real Estate Wire transfer: If you are buying or selling a home and need to wire money, always call the agent directly to verify wire instructions. Scammers prey on this industry to provide false account numbers and wiring instructions so be sure to verify directly.
- THINK BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD
These are only a few of the items that we covered in the hour presentation. Fraud can be complex and cyber security even more so. If you have any questions about this information, please give us a call and we would be happy to discuss it with you.