WealthManagement.com recently surveyed high-net-worth investors, aiming to understand their primary concerns. While 56% of respondents cited major illness as a significant fear and 65% noted terrorism, 72% revealed that identity theft was their paramount concern.
The Rationale Behind the Fear
The apprehension surrounding identity theft is by no means unfounded. Reports from 2015 illuminate the gravity of this issue, indicating that 13.1 million individuals fell victim to identity theft, leading to a loss of approximately $15 billion. Such alarming statistics prompted the financial industry to enhance security measures, such as integrating chip technology into credit and debit cards. However, the avenues through which identity thieves operate are manifold.
The Achilles Heel: E-mail Security
In the nascent years of the Internet and e-mail, naïve password choices were somewhat excusable. Yet, a survey from Time Money highlighted a startling revelation: even in 2015, many individuals persisted in using easily guessable passwords. The most popular passwords from a disclosed set were: “123456,” “password,” “12345678,” “Qwerty,” and “12345.”
Cybersecurity experts continuously emphasize the necessity of creating strong passwords. A few suggestions they propose include:
- Avoiding recognizable words, usernames, actual names, or company monikers.
- Ensuring that when passwords are updated, they bear no resemblance to the previous one.
- Recognizing the risks of using one universal password for all online platforms and diversifying passwords for each site.
The Underestimated Threat: Direct Mail
Often deemed traditional and outdated, physical mail carries a treasure trove of personal financial data. To mitigate risks, users can opt for online-only versions of their bank, credit card, and retirement statements. If that isn’t feasible, ensuring that mail isn’t left in mailboxes overnight or during weekends is essential. For extended absences, the U.S. Postal Service offers a mail-holding service. It’s also crucial to securely dispose of any unsolicited preapproved credit offers that arrive in the mail.
The Double-Edged Sword: Public Wi-Fi
The allure of complimentary Internet access at public venues can be strong. However, these free connections are a potential goldmine for hackers. There have been instances where malevolent actors set up counterfeit Wi-Fi hotspots, using them as a gateway to access unsuspecting users’ data.
To bolster one’s online safety:
- Prioritize connections to known, secure Wi-Fi networks.
- Refrain from accessing personal financial sites while connected to public Wi-Fi.
- Always verify the legitimacy of a hotspot before joining.
Maintaining a Shielded Identity
Constant vigilance remains the cornerstone of safeguarding one’s identity. For a select few, using a revocable living trust, with its unique tax identification number, can offer an additional layer of protection, making it considerably more challenging for malefactors to breach their accounts.
In this digital age, awareness, and proactive measures are paramount with increasing threats to personal and financial security. The fears of high-net-worth investors emphasize the need for all individuals, regardless of their wealth, to be cautious and informed.
If you are a Legacy client and have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Legacy advisor. If you are not a Legacy client and are interested in learning more about our approach to personalized wealth management, please contact us at 920.967.5020 or email@example.com.
This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only.
It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.