Between unregulated social media, scammers, and unsecured websites, our systems are not always set up to protect you and your personal data.
With the sharing of personal information – sometimes by the person themselves – where does that leave privacy and personal information when it comes to your investments?
The financial services industry operates under the regulation of the Federal Government (the SEC) and FINRA. Financial companies are required to develop protocols for transparency and notification to customers if or when their information is compromised. However, beyond such technology put into place to protect financial customer information, the customer must also play a role in their own personal privacy.
Why is Data Privacy Important?
These days, many of us spend a lot of time online. And the more we do online, the more at risk we are to having our personal information exposed. The data economy we live in finds value in our personal information, especially how it’s shared via social media. By taking deliberate steps to protect your data privacy, you help shield yourself from scammers, hackers, and vulnerabilities.
Tips for Protecting Your Data Privacy and Personal Information:
- Review your social media profile. Turn off public view of your personal information. This includes your date of birth and contact information, as well as your education and employment information. Limit this information, along with photos, only to connections. You may want to eliminate personal information from your profile completely.
- Be wary of responding to unfamiliar email addresses. Scammers love to pass themselves off as financial institutions in order to access your personal information. Be wary of emails like this, even if they look identical to communications you’ve received from your bank in the past. Instead of replying to the email, call your bank directly.
- Be aware of what you’re putting on the internet each time you ‘like’ or comment on a social post. Artificial Intelligence (AI) captures your reaction for ad targeting and uses it in the future. This is exactly what happened during the 2016 election in targeted geographical locations in our county.
- Use Apps only from financial companies you do business with. Furthermore, avoid apps that aggregate access to all companies through a third party app-especially if they’re not a financial company. Compiling online access to multiple companies through one app source puts you at risk for all your financial passwords and profiles.
- On that same note, log out every time you’ve finished with a financial website, instead of simply closing the browser. This is especially important if you’re using a public computer at a library, hotel, or cafe.
Creating Strong Login and Password Credentials
Be sure that you have varied login and password credentials for each account you have. From the electric company to your retirement accounts, do not use the same information. If one is compromised, they may all be.
To fortify your data privacy, use strong passwords that:
- Contain at least 20 characters.
- Utilize a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Do not include personal information such as names, dates of birth, or social security numbers.
- Are changed every 30-60 days at a minimum.
Consider Bruce. He used the same password – Bruce1975 – for every single account, from his banking to his social media platforms. When his password was compromised through a security breach, all of his accounts suddenly became vulnerable. Because he wasn’t aware of the breach right away, weeks went by before he changed all of his passwords. By then, his personal information, including his private financial assets, became exposed. Unfortunately, issues involving data privacy occur far too often—we don’t want them to happen to you!
Remember, we leave our digital path on the internet each time we login if we are not logging in and out securely each time with different credentials. Watching out for your data protection is key to keeping your information safe!
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