Protecting Investment Accounts
Investors who have become victims of identity theft or a breach of data must take action to protect their investment accounts. While there are steps that can be taken to mitigate these risks from ever occurring to begin with, there is no way of eliminating the risk completely. As a result, investors should be prepared with the knowledge of what to do when an issue arises, as well as be ready to react quickly. The SEC has issued an investor alert regarding identity theft and data breaches of investment accounts.
Identity Theft and Data Breach
Before issues arise, it is important to safeguard all personal financial information. This information includes the investor’s social security number, financial account numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, usernames, and passwords. Being proactive in protecting information, such as by only sharing this information with trusted sources and changing passwords often, can help prevent data breach and identity theft.
If an issue does arise, the following describes some of the actions that may be helpful in limiting the harm suffered:
- Contact Firms and Institutions: as soon as the investor becomes aware of an issue, all broker-dealers, investment advisors, and other financial professionals the investor deals with should be contacted to report the problem. Other institutions, such as banks and credit card companies should also be made aware of the situation. All conversations with such institutions should be documented in writing.
- Change Passwords: investors should change passwords for all accounts associated with the compromised personal information. Further, regardless of whether any issue exists, investors (and all individuals) should make sure their passwords are strong. Strong passwords are frequently considered those containing at least eight characters, made up of symbols, numbers, and both capital and lowercase letters.
- Utilize two-step Verification: when an attempt is made to log into an account through a device that the account holder has not authorized on the account (known as an unregistered device) the firm sends a unique code to the investor’s email or phone. This code must be entered, along with the password, to gain access to the account. This code plus password requirement is called two-step verification. Unfortunately, not all firms utilize this technology.
- Be on the Lookout for Suspicious Activity: changes to account information, such as the investor’s address, phone number, email address, and external banking information should be red flags that a breach has occurred. Additionally, investors should monitor all transactions to ensure that he or she actually authorized them. Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the firm.
- Identity Theft Report: creating a identity theft report can help the investor deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses which the investor opened accounts with. This report can help with removing fraudulent information from credit reports, preventing collection of debts that resulted from the theft, and obtaining information on the accounts the identity thief opened or misused.
In addition to the above, it may also be beneficial to utilize resources like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which provides investor alerts and regulation of the securities industry.
Securities Law Attorneys
If you have suffered investment losses, it may be due to fraudulent behavior or misconduct. For more information about recovery for securities law violations, speak with an experienced attorney today. At the Silver Law Group, we provide help for investors who have been harmed due to misconduct by financial professionals.
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