Cyber security has been a concern for some time now — and it is growing. In fact, there were approximately 65,000 successful ransomware attacks last year, according to one cybersecurity firm. That’s one every eight minutes!
Already in 2021, we have seen a few that have made headlines. One that slowed meat processor JBS had knock-on effects all over the supply chain, the Colonial Pipeline attack led to gas shortages, the NBA is recovering from a hack, hospitals and police departments have been targeted — and those are just the ones we know about.
But why should individuals be concerned about large companies being targeted? Well, think about the data that these companies store. According to Freddie Mac, hackers could potentially steal data on an estimated 60 million U.S. mortgage records with a possible financial loss of close to $60 billion. Now consider what other kinds of sensitive information is being stored by companies in all industries, from medical to financial and so on, and you start to get the picture.
Protecting personal information isn’t a new challenge for companies, especially in the digital age, where almost everything is stored on a hard drive or a cloud server somewhere. It’s strange to think that any company only keeping paper records is a dinosaur nowadays.
The estimated number of damages due to cybercrime in 2021 is an overwhelming $6 trillion. This is more costly than all the natural disasters in a year. To put it in perspective, this amount exceeds even the global trade of all illegal drugs. So, it isn’t just some lonely hackers sitting in a basement somewhere — it’s big business!
Large companies are doing their part to secure private information online. But as for the rest of us, fortunately for anyone concerned about this issue, there are countermeasures for your protection and steps that can be taken to avoid becoming the prey of those looking to help themselves to your hard earned money.
1. Never give out financial information, your Social Security number, or your Medicare number over the phone unless you initiated the call. Keep your social security card separate from your wallet in case it gets stolen or misplaced.
2. Beware of pushy marketers–don’t hesitate to take down their contact information and do your due diligence. Just say no. Or ask for a callback number and then check to make sure it’s a legitimate number.
3. Don’t use the same password on multiple online accounts. It can be a lot to remember, but there are services like OnePassword and others that can make the process easy and more secure.
4. Consult someone you trust if you’re feeling uncertain about requests for money or personal information. Don’t provide any personal information over the phone. And don’t dismiss that intuition that tells you something is off. If it feels like a scam, then it probably is. There are certain tell-tale signs, like being pressured into paying for a “fee” right away over the phone, or paying by gift cards etc. The minute it walks and talks like a duck… well, you know the saying.
5. Never send money today for the promise of more money later.
6. Don’t sign on the dotted line for any complex investments you don’t understand. Consult a trusted financial consultant.
7. Don’t give away power of attorney to anyone unless family members and personal advisors such as lawyers, accountants, and financial planners have reviewed the documents.
8. Use “caller ID” features on your phone. If it’s a toll-free number you don’t recognize, don’t pick it up. Some mobile providers even have services now that alert you to possible scams. T-Mobile for example will block possible or known scam numbers on your behalf with their Scam Shield app, or they will alert you with the caller ID “Likely Scam”. DO NOT ANSWER.
Change your passwords, use multiple passwords, get virus protection, watch your emails, pay attention to the sites you visit, etc. Protect your privacy and personal sensitive information.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
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