Cybersecurity: raising awareness of vulnerabilities in sharing personal information

January 13th, 2016

Helping clients prepare for their financial future goes beyond getting to know them and understanding their goals. Plenty of work goes on behind the scenes. Our staff regularly attends continuing education and training. Most recently, training included raising awareness of vulnerabilities in sharing personal information. This IS something we can share – ways to limit your exposure:

  1. Identifying numbers – avoid taking the bait over the internet or telephone when asked to provide identifying numbers such as driver’s license, Social Security, passport, etc.
  2. Password and signatures – do not send documents containing your signature or passwords over unsecured email or other personal information that will help a scammer recreate your identity.
  3. Addresses – our addresses are so readily identifiable today and if matched to personal information announcements such as vacations or events, we have opened ourselves to unwelcome visitors. Avoid announcing your schedule.
  4. Current, previous or alternate names – again, readily identifiable information that a scammer may use to their advantage in becoming familiar with your past to provide security answers, such as maiden names.
  5. Employment details – descriptions of your new job or promotions may target you for manipulation by those posing as vendors or co-workers to take advantage of your access to sensitive information. Don’t expose yourself before you even get started.
  6. Demographics – a web search lets just about anyone know where you live but why advertise it? Social websites where you show your age, gender and lifestyle could invite others wanting to be part of it, including those with nefarious intentions.
  7. History – similar to maiden names used in security questions, information about your hometown, old schools, addresses, hometown, employment can all be pieced together to create a fairly complete picture for impersonating you or compromising your security.
  8. Appearance – back to social media and exposing your lifestyle. Those pictures of yourself can be snipped and used to create a fake profile. Further, they may expose others in the photos including family and friends. Think twice about being included in others’ photos that might get posted and announce your whereabouts or reflect your lifestyle. Tell your children as well.

Use common sense in sharing personal information virtually. Scammers are counting on innocent people not imagining the extremes to which they will go in taking advantage of identity vulnerabilities. Valley National Financial Advisors take securing your personal information seriously. We need your help in protecting it as well. With everyone doing their part, we hope to limit exposure to any compromise.

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