We are always receiving reminders that the same technologies which make our lives more convenient also expose us to new dangers. The recent Equifax breach is one of those reminders.
I wanted to send a note to each of you that underscores how seriously both myself and LPL take the security of your personal data and your finances. Also included are actionable steps that you can take to protect yourself moving forward.
A good first step is to see if you were a victim of Equifax’s hack. This can be determined from the website below:
However, given how prevalent these types of data beaches have become, I’ve included some bullet points below that I would recommend for everyone regardless of whether they were impacted by the Equifax breach:
- Fraud alerts: I highly recommend establishing fraud alerts with the three major credit reporting agencies. This represents a fast way to alert you if someone tries to apply for credit in your name. You can also set up fraud alerts for your credit and debit card.
- Credit freezes: A credit freeze will lock your credit files so that only companies you already do business with will have access to them. This means that if a thief shows up at a bank and tries to apply for credit in your name using your address and Social Security number, the bank won’t be able to access your credit report. Keep in mind that if you want to apply for credit with a new financial institution in the future, or you are opening a new bank account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance, you will need to unlock or “thaw” the credit freeze.
Below are phone numbers for each of the credit reporting agencies:
Equifax: (866) 349-5191
Experian: (888) 397-3742
Transunion: (888) 909-8872
- Bank and credit card statements: Review your financial statements regularly and look for any transaction that seems amiss. Take advantage of any alert features so that you are notified when suspicious activity is detected.
- Look into credit monitoring services like ID Shield or Lifelock that attempt to monitor your identity from every angle.
- Do not open or reply to any e-mail that appears to be from a financial institution or other business asking you to verify your personal data. If you are unsure about a particular e-mail, please contact that institution by phone in order to verify.
I think the biggest key is to stay vigilant about all of your accounts. Check on them periodically and always be on the lookout for any suspicious transactions.
Regarding your accounts with LPL and Gary Alpert & Associates
As one of the largest broker dealers in the United States, LPL Financial has a very detailed system for authenticating individuals. This also includes a strict set of cybersecurity rules that all LPL advisors are required to adhere to.
My office will verbally confirm all address change requests and LPL will mail written notifications of such changes to both the old and the new address of record.
My office will also verbally confirm all transactions and money movement requests.
No personally identifiable client information is sent via unsecure e-mail or any other unsecure means.
On a final note, my assistant, Rebekah Clough, and I monitor all money movement, transaction and address change activity for all accounts daily.
I realize that protecting my client’s data and account security is a very serious issue and can promise that both LPL Financial and my practice are very dedicated to this effort.
Please feel free to call me any time if you would like to discuss any of the above items or a set of solutions that works best for you.