Protecting Yourself Through Good Security Habits
By Allison Bressi, Compliance & Administrative Manager
Versant Capital Management is committed to keeping your personal, identifying information safe from malicious actors. In recent months, several Versant clients have been the target of multiple fraudulent wire requests, using personal information and signatures stolen from compromised client email and social media accounts. None of the attempts targeting Versant clients have been successful, because of our security protocols, and more importantly, the depth of our client relationships enable us to spot uncharacteristic requests or activity quickly. In today’s information environment, maintaining a solid security posture against those who would physically or remotely steal your information is critical to stopping these individuals in their tracks. Please consider following these security tips to best position yourself against those who would steal your information or your money – both physically and electronically. If you have any questions or suspect you may be a victim of identity theft, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll do everything we can to help.
How can I protect my Information?
- Don’t carry identifying information in your wallet that you do not need. In particular, only give out your social security number (SSN) when absolutely necessary.
- Protect your PINs and passwords. Use strong passwords (never use identifying information in passwords), never use the same password twice, and ideally use a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters. Never write a PIN or password on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your desk or wallet. Change your PINs and passwords frequently, especially if you detect suspicious account activity.
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using pay phones, ATMs, and public computers. Lock your computer or handheld device when you aren’t using it. If possible, disconnect your computer from the Internet when you aren’t using it.
- Collect mail promptly and pay attention to your billing cycles. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Keep your receipts. Ask for carbons and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Back up your data in a separate location in case of data compromise or damage. You can back up your data on an external device (USB thumb drive, external hard drive, CDs) or even using cloud storage services online (Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, GoogleDrive, etc.)
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online. If you receive correspondence unexpectedly and you are not sure about its authenticity, look up the sender’s contact information online and call them directly. Do not respond to the phone number or email on the solicitation as it may be fraudulent.
- Delete chain letters, as they often contain malicious code. Do not open attachments from or forward emails listing tragic consequences for not forwarding, promising money or gift certificates, or if overall, they seem fishy.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer. Ensure your wireless network is password protected. Beware of fake antivirus software – renew directly at the vendor website. Ensure your computer receives all of its updates promptly and your security settings are appropriately set.
- Check your credit report. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information.
- Social media. Do not post identifying information about yourself on social media (birthdate, hometown, phone number, address, etc.). Be mindful that pictures reveal a great deal about you (where you live, friends and associates, etc.) Beware of enabling location services, as malicious individuals could potentially track your location to learn about your business and habits. Be wary of strangers and be sure to periodically update your privacy settings.
- Opt out. Contact your cellular provider and opt out of collection of your call data for business analytics. Visit online data aggregators and request your personal information be removed from their sites.
- Report and take action! If you suspect you are the victim of malicious activity, report it immediately to your financial institution, local police department, and credit bureaus. Visit http://www.identitytheft.gov for step-by-step instructions on what to do if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft. You can also visit http://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack for step-by-step instructions on what to do if you believe you are the target of any kind of malicious cyber activity.
Source: US CERT, www.us-cert.gov
Disclosure: Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Versant Capital Management, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Versant Capital Management, Inc. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Versant Capital Management, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. If you are a Versant Capital Management, Inc. client, please remember to contact Versant Capital Management, Inc., in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services. A copy of the Versant Capital Management, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.