CPA Chat

Operations Chat
March152021
12 Simple Steps that go a Long Way in Preventing Identity Theft

Alexander Moshinsky, CPA, Director, Operational Advisory and Risk Management

03.15.21 | Operations Chat

COVID-19 was practically a gift to identity thieves. 2020 saw an almost complete cultural shift to remote transactions of every kind. If it could be done remotely, we did it. Each time, it was just one more opportunity for identity theft.

And we continue today, with few signs of going back to our old ways.

Taking any steps to blunt, deflect, or outmaneuver identity thieves is not only wise, it is an imperative. Is there anyone out there who does not know someone who has suffered identity theft?

Enough said. Here are some reasonable and easily doable steps.

  • Social Security Number. Don’t carry your Social Security card or give out the number unless absolutely necessary.
  • Unsolicited spam calls. Do not engage or provide any personal information. If a caller pretends to be a representative of a company you do business with, hang-up and redial directly to the company or independently log into your account.
  • Email. Do not click on any links from unknown sources. Even for known sources, the email you are receiving may be “spoofed”, pretending to be as someone you know. As with the calls, its safer to log in directly and independently of any emails using known website credentials
  • Personal Information. Don’t hand over birthdays, display birthdays on social media or use a part of your username. Never share your financial account numbers except in very limited and controlled circumstances to verified and known to you parties. Do not share personal information in public where someone can overhear it.
  • Mail. Open mail every day. Don’t let it pile up. Destroy and shred anything you do not need to keep.
  • Monitor Bills/Statements/Accounts. If any of these are late, contact the sender to see if there is an issue. Investigate all suspicious activity
  • Mobile Devices. Most have security features. Always use a six-digit password
  • Credit Card/Bank Statements. Don’t rely on companies to always notify you. Scan statements for suspicious and/or unauthorized transactions.
  • Shred, Shred, Shred. To prevent garbage divers from extracting gold, shred unneeded statements, receipts, and old credit cards, among others.
  • Firewalls/Virus-detection Software. Check that you are up-to-date with the latest technology.
  • Passwords. As much as you may dislike the task, use complex passwords and change them regularly.
  • Credit Reports. Review them at least once every 6 months. Check that they only include accounts that you opened. You have the right to freeze accounts to prevent someone from applying for one in your name.

As much as you might feel these steps can be an inconvenience, they are a small price to pay to help protect your most precious commodity – your identity. These are just a few of your options. If you have any questions, I can be reached at 212.331.7448 | amoshinsky@berdonllp.com or contact your Berdon advisor.

Alexander Moshinsky, Director of Operational Advisory and Risk Management at Berdon LLP, brings more than 25 years of experience in the financial services, real estate, and other sectors — working with major institutions and government regulatory agencies including broker dealers and dark pool network operators.

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