Phishing, Fraud, and Security Issues

By: Kristina K. Bolhouse, CPA/PFS, CFP®

Recently, we had several clients call concerned they had fallen victim to phishing schemes, or had otherwise compromised key personal information. These were what appeared to be legitimate financial institutions requesting verification of information. We encourage clients to “self-monitor” investments using www.Fidelity.com (or www.Schwab.com). For checking accounts, credit cards and other financial activities, we recommend websites such as www.mint.com, www.yodlee.com, and www.mvelopes.com. We also recommend opening all mail from Fidelity, Schwab, or other custodians just to verify the nature of the communication. For example, if you move and change your address, a letter is sent to your old address and your new address verifying the change. While this may seem strange and redundant to those busy folks attempting to get settled into a new home, it is an important control feature. The goal here is to verify that a legitimate move has occurred, and not simply someone redirecting your communications.

Another action we encourage is to periodically request a free credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to receive a free credit report annually from each credit reporting agency. The website to receive these free reports is www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also request an “initial fraud alert” (free) for 90 days if you suspect a breach of your personal information (such as accidentally responding to a phishing e-mail). Of the three credit reporting agencies, I think Experian has the most user-friendly interface for the 90 day initial fraud alert. If you go to www.experian.com, a tab on the bottom of the home page will take you to the “Fraud Alert” section. Experian is then required to communicate this alert to TransUnion and Equifax, the other two credit reporting companies. You can extend a fraud alert to 7 years if you have filed an identity theft report with a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency.

In summary, there are measures that can be taken to prevent and detect problems, they just require a little legwork or set up time.

®2013 The Arkansas Financial Group, Inc., All Rights Reserved

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

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 The Arkansas Financial Group, Inc.-“AFG”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog 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 blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from AFG. Please remember that if you are a AFG client, it remains your responsibility to advise AFG, 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, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. 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. AFG is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the AFG’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. Please Note: AFG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to AFG’s web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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