Online Conveniences Can Lead to Heartbreak

By Gabriela Centofanti

Technology has made it possible for investors to access their brokerage accounts anywhere. These conveniences allow investors to monitor their money and further contemplate their investments outside of their broker’s office while waiting at an airport terminal or sitting on a couch. But lurking in the background are possible email hacks, Wi-Fi threats, and identity scams. Investors should be proactive about keeping their investment accounts safe from these online threats.

Simple steps such as logging out of your sessions every time you view your brokerage accounts online can help avoid possible unauthorized users from accessing your accounts. It is not enough to just close your browser window. It is also recommended to avoid allowing your browser to “remember” your login information for your brokerage accounts. Allowing the browser to remember this information would make accessing your accounts easier and faster, and it could mean that other subsequent users of your computer could access your accounts just as easily. To avoid this from happening in the future, click “Never for This Website” when prompted by your browser to “remember” the login information. It is in your best interest to avoid logging into public computers. You should also change your passwords regularly, and make sure your personal computer has up to date firewall and anti-virus programs. Investors should also consider this advice for their online bank accounts and emails.

Your online brokerage accounts could still be compromised even if you’re being proactive. One major concern is email hacking. You could be a victim of email hacking if your email contacts are receiving spam from you or if your email provider has blocked you from accessing your account. You should alert your brokerage firm and the credit bureaus right way. Hackers can be using your email to communicate with your brokerage firm to make unauthorized account transactions.

Your brokerage firm should also be taking steps to keep secure from online threats. FINRA encourages investors to know what their firm’s cyber security practices and policies are in the event investment accounts are compromised. Customers should ask their brokerage firms whether they have a substantial information technology staff (IT) and what kind of safeguards they have in place. Investors should also know if their firms with reimburse them if their assets are compromised by a cyber-attack.

For more recommendations on how to keep your brokerage accounts safe from online threats please visit the following links.