4 Ways to prevent identity theft – and protect your finances

From media moguls like Sony to lesser-known agencies like Ashley Madison, it seems anyone can fall victim to hacking these days. And when that happens, both your personal life and your finances can be at risk.

Although there’s no foolproof method for protecting yourself, there are some things you can do to help protect your identity and make sure your finances aren’t compromised.

ONE: Communicate with your financial advisor on a regular basis.

Even if your portfolio’s not complicated and most of your updates are done over the phone because of distance or convenience, you should make sure to meet face to face once in a while.

Also, make sure that more than one person in the company knows and has talked to you either in person or over the phone. Your advisor may go on vacation or get sick at some point, so you’ll want to have more than one person at the company who can confirm your identity should the need arise.

TWO: Let your advisor know about significant changes in your life.

If you are getting married or have changed jobs, make sure to communicate this. The more your advisor knows about you, the better it is for identification purposes. And if you are planning on travelling for any amount of time, let your advisor know the details of your trip.

THREE: Be cautious with email.

It’s becoming easier for hackers to get into email accounts so check your email’s “sent” box on a regular basis. Also, be alert for any strange emails from a person who has “responded” to you. Changing your passwords frequently and making sure you don’t have auto sign-in set up on your computer are other measures you can take. Check out Google for more great tips on protecting your password.

If you have even a slight feeling that you’ve been hacked, notify your financial advisor immediately and tell them not to act on any instructions that they receive from that email address.

If you want to be extra cautious, ask your investment advisor not to email forms to you that require a signature. Tell him or her to mail them instead and send the signed forms back by registered mail. You may even want to make sure that your signature cannot be duplicated easily.

FOUR: Check your financial statements every month.

There may be certain times when you do not want to look at your investment, credit card or other financial statements. This may happen when the markets are volatile or you’ve just come back from a trip and the mail has piled up. It’s important, though, to check every statement for unusual activity – mainly unauthorized withdrawals from your account. If you do notice that something doesn’t look right, notify your bank and financial advisor immediately.

If you are vigilant about all of the above and still get hacked and have money stolen from your accounts, make sure to change your email address and notify anyone who needs to know as soon as possible. Then, contact your local police station and file a police report.

For more information about how to protect yourself from identity theft and identity fraud, check out the RCMP’s website.

Marcy Ages is a passionate, detail-driven provider of financial planning services, including investment management and tax preparation. As founder of The Care Network, Marcy also works with other service professionals to support high-net-worth individuals with their estate planning and assisted living issues.

 

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These articles are for general informational purposes only. Please obtain professional advice before taking any action based on this information. No endorsement or approval of any third parties or their advice, information, products or services should be implied by any references to third parties contained in any article. Trademarks cited in these articles are the respective properties of their owners.

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