Don’t assume your retirement accounts are safe from hackers just because they’re insured by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) or FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Hackers are poised to move from retailers to financial institutions, and your retirement accounts are squarely in their cross-hairs.
Your financial and personal information can be stolen in more ways than at an ATM or gas pump. The 2015 IRS hack was accomplished using personal data, such as Social Security numbers, stolen in previous breaches.
Your IRA and 401(k) accounts make attractive targets for hackers because you most likely don’t track them as frequently as you track your credit card and checking accounts. A hacker can empty your account in minutes and you might not realize it until you do your annual review. Finding the hacker can take weeks, if not longer.
The NCUA or FDIC insurance on your retirement accounts only comes into play if your financial institution fails. Recently, however, some of the larger mutual fund companies have added two-factor authentication for access to your online information and will reimburse funds taken from an account in an unauthorized transaction.
Don’t make it easy for cybercriminals to harm you. Here’s how to protect yourself:
* Use strong passwords. Passwords remain the weakest link for data theft. Avoid personal information such as birth dates, pets’ names, or anything someone can find on social media.
* Use two-factor authentication. If it’s available, take advantage of it. Some retirement account providers will text a code to your smartphone before you can log in.
* Check accounts frequently. Check for any changes at least once a month. A small change can indicate a bigger issue—investigate it.
* Just say “no.” If your browser gives you the option to remember your password, click the option to “don’t ask me again,” to prevent an accidental “yes” someday when you’re in a hurry.
* Shop on trusted websites. The big giants such as PayPal and Amazon are more likely to have security policies in place than smaller sites.
* Use credit instead of debit. When given the choice as you swipe, opt for credit. Credit card fraudulent activity won’t lock up your account funds.
Any account connected to the Internet, from DropBox to your retirement accounts, is susceptible to an attack. Protect yourself with knowledge and use proper security protocol and trustworthy devices to defend against attacks on your nest egg.
To learn more about protecting your accounts from fraud, talk to the professionals at Liberty Savings. We can recommend steps you can take to keep your information safe.