How to Protect Your Investments From Criminals

How to Protect Your Investments From Criminals
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Many people worry about criminals ripping off their investments — which took decades to accumulate — for good reason.


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) reports increased activity among criminals trying to gain access to investment accounts. Activity is noted in two primary areas: 1) Account takeover incidents involving the use of compromised customer information, such as login credentials, to gain unauthorized entry to customers’ online brokerage accounts, and 2) attackers using fake identities to fraudulently open new accounts.


Common attack methods include phishing emails and calling customers, pretending to be registered representatives to acquire personal information.


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Unfortunately, there’s a vast amount of data related to customer login credentials available for sale on the dark web. Plus, more sophisticated theft methods such as software that automates attacks to “carpet bomb” targets have improved. Also, crooks can imitate mobile devices that have been compromised to access online brokerage accounts.


Financial firms have observed customers often use the same login information across multiple accounts, making them particularly susceptible to account takeovers.


To prevent thefts, experts recommend using a password manager, an application that protects online accounts by suggesting and saving strong, unique passwords for each login. The password manager will then automatically fills in the password whenever customers access their accounts online.


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Another preventative method is the use of multifactor authentication, which requires you to use a code received by text or email to log into your account. Talk to your firm about this option.


Find out about the protections offered by your firms and their policies regarding hacked accounts. Protect your accounts and bulk up your security measures.


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling