Breaking Down Cybercrime – What It Is, What We’re Doing, and How to Protect Yourself
Jenna Smith, Business Manager
Approximately 16.5 million people have their identities stolen each year. Unfortunately, cybercrime is a real threat in our world and that threat is quickly growing. The global cost of cybercrime is estimated to reach $2 Trillion by 2019. We know that keeping yourself secure is a seemingly impossible task, but there is hope. We are breaking down the different types of cybercrime out there, what we’re doing to protect you, what your custodian is doing to protect you, and how you can protect yourself and your family.
COMMON CYBERCRIME TRENDS
Email Account Takeover
Cyber criminals often gain access to personal and business email accounts to search for sensitive information such as social security numbers, account numbers, login credentials, etc. Once they have obtained your personal or business information, these criminals tend to use your email address or credentials to log in or reach out to withdraw money from accounts, dig for more personal information with the intent of committing further cybercrimes, and more.
Client Impersonation and Identity Theft
A common practice in cybercrime is impersonation and identity theft, where the cyber criminals will use the personal information they have gained about you to assume your identity. This can occur via a couple of different avenues –
- This occurs when a criminal manipulates you into believing they are a trustworthy source with whom to share information. This can occur in person, over the phone, over social media, or on email. For Example – A hacker has been following your social media for a couple of months to learn your children’s names, ages, and interests. They call your bank and frantically say “My son Michael was helping me peel vegetables and cut his hand badly! We are at the hospital but I don’t have any of my account information, and the hospital is requiring a card to put on file before they see him. Can you please help me get access to my account?”
- Shoulder Surfing occurs when the criminal quite literally “looks over your shoulder.” This is very common in public crowds, restaurants, stores, etc. Fraudsters will go to lengths by using binoculars, video cameras, and vision-enhancing devices to gather information (log in credentials, bank account numbers, etc) from your cell phones, documents, or computers.
- Spoofing is an act of cybercrime when a form of communication appears to come from you, but was fraudulently created. For Example – A fraudster hacks into your email and sends a forged email to your advisor requesting money to a new bank account. Spoofing can also occur over the phone. Hackers have updated technology to fake caller ID and mimic voices.
- Call forwarding is just as it sounds; your phone number is forwarded or rerouted to a hacker’s phone. Call forwarding can be initiated when a hacker is able to steal credentials from a call center or use social engineering to gain information and hack into phone systems.
New Account Fraud
- You’ve heard of this one. Wells Fargo has recently been the culprit, and hackers have the same capabilities to open new accounts in your name. Criminals obtain your personal information from outside sources and open up bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and more.
Scams are schemes created by fraudsters that make you believe what they’re saying/selling/offering is real. These criminals have become very good actors, and can be easy to believe if you aren’t aware of the scams around society today.
- Property schemes can occur on websites such as AirBNB, VRBO, Craiglist, and others like them. Scammers have been known to put properties that don’t exist up for rent and steal information from online booking sites.
- Most of you have probably received a call from the “IRS” requesting you pay an absurd amount of money right away. Although most people are able to detect a fraudulent call, there are plenty of people who fall for this. Fraudsters will create fake email addresses, websites and phone numbers to look like the IRS. Be especially mindful of this with elderly parents.
- Fraudsters will act as a business, bank, anything they can think of to get personal information out of you. Many times they will offer a prize or gift and have you “pay for shipping”.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Donnelly Wealth Advisors is actively working to protect you and your information, assets, and identity. We are aware of all of these forms of cybercrime and have seen and blocked attempts for our clients. In addition to the security of your assets that your custodian provides, we have IT systems set in place for internet crime that protects your personal information within our firm.
We know that all fraud starts with humans. Donnelly Wealth Advisors trains our employees thoroughly on the common cybercrime schemes, and the uncommon or unrecognizable crimes as well. Every employee we hire is subject to an in-depth background check and has closely monitored computers and phones. DWA is subject to monthly compliance checks to confirm that all of our practices and employees are in place. Security is one of our biggest priorities.
Donnelly Wealth Advisors does not accept trades via email, for fraudulent reasons in addition to room for error. Any trades including security purchases or sales are required to be taken over the phone.
Donnelly Wealth Advisors will not send out a third party disbursement without an in-depth verification process. If we are handling the distribution via eSignature, we require verification methods such as second factor authentication or ShareFile (secure sharing service). If the request is made over email, we require a call right away. We use our knowledge of your financial scenario to determine if the third party you are paying lines up with your plans, what you’ve told us in the past and that there is nothing fishy going on.
WHAT YOUR CUSTODIAN IS DOING
Each custodian that Donnelly Wealth Advisors uses (SEI Private Trust, Bancorp, Charles Schwab, Folio, Invesco) are strong, reputable custodians that go to immense lengths to keep your identity safe.
Our custodians are required by law to verify not only your security, but our security as well. Each person in our office goes through a verification process each time we log in, view, or create a transaction in your account.
Each of these custodians also follows AML (Anti-Money Laundering) programs set by the US Government, which is a set of rules and procedures created to stop money laundering. In accordance with the act, our custodians must always verify your information, including SSN, previous addresses, maiden names, etc before completing transactions in your accounts. Third party distributions are verified by client signature, as well as advisor verification.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Actively protecting your credit seems like a daunting task, but there are simple steps you can take to shelter yourself and your family from cybercrime.
For Your Family –
- Make sure your computer has a firewall. Firewalls monitor incoming and outgoing internet traffic and block traffic that has been defined as malicious or non-secure your security settings.
- Install an anti-virus software. Anti-virus software is used to protect your computer from Trojan horses, computer worms, and viruses.
- Keep your operating system updated.
- Download attachments, website, and pop-ups with caution.
- Install passwords on all smartphones, tablets, and computers. The longer the password, the safer it is. Make sure to change passwords every 4-6 months.
SOCIAL MEDIA SECURITY
- Make sure to use strong social media passwords and change the passwords regularly.
- Be mindful of your social media’s privacy settings and confirm that you have your security set at the highest level possible.
- Consider signing up for identity protection, which goes beyond just tracking your credit scores and existing lines of credit. While none of these companies are 100% guaranteed to keep you safe, below are some of the industry’s better companies. Click HERE to learn more about freezing your credit.
- Monitor your credit report with tools such as creditkarma.com. Be sure to check your credit report on an annual basis.
- Consider freezing your credit! Click HERE to learn more about freezing your credit. This prevents new loans and credit cards from being opened under your social security number. If you end up needing a new loan (for a new house, car etc), you can unfreeze it. You can initiate a security freeze at the following sites –
- Actively monitor your bank and credit card statements. Keep an eye out for any abnormal activity or transactional email alerts.
- Switch to online banking that has a strong password, as opposed to receiving your statements in the mail.
- Once enrolled in online banking, confirm that you are signed up for text or email alerts on all debit cards, credit cards, savings accounts, securities backed lines of credit, etc.
- When using an ATM, make sure that nothing looks out of place. Skimming, an advanced technique where criminals use hardware that they place on an ATM to steal your card number and pin, is very common and dangerous. Don’t hesitate to feel around the ATM and make sure there are no loose parts, oddly colored hardware, or that anything looks misplaced or like it doesn’t fit.
- Never log onto an unsecure wifi hotspot. Make sure you are using wifi that requires a strong password and isn’t public to everyone.
- Use caution when checking bank accounts, social media, and email in public. If you must do so, confirm that you are in a private area.
- Make sure your personal documents are stored in a safe place, preferably with a lock.
- Shred documents with personal information before throwing them out.
- Keep all checks, written pins, or passwords out of your wallet and in a safe place.
- Most of our homes have smart devices these days. Use strong passwords on these devices.
We know that Cybersecurity is worrisome. The best way to protect yourself is to keep yourself informed and initiate security measures to protect yourself and your family. We are actively protecting you and are always here to help, answer any questions, or provide you with the reassurance that you need. Please feel free to call us any time!
Charles Schwab Cybersecurity Resource Center
Federal Bureau of Investigation
SEI Private Trust Company