We often read in the news about various large corporations, and sometimes small businesses, experiencing privacy breaches and vulnerability.  We thought that every one of our clients could benefit from knowing what they can do to protect their money, credit, and identity.

Our first suggestion is that you keep in touch with your financial institutions and make it easy for them to keep in touch with you. This starts with you keeping your contact information up-to-date.  This is especially true of your mobile number since some people change numbers frequently.  You want them to be able to reach you so that their systems can best protect your accounts and information. As much as some of us want to limit the number of applications we put on our mobile devices, if your financial institutions have a mobile information or banking app, then download it! But don’t stop there, make sure to turn on the mobile app alerts that apply to you. Then when their systems detect unusual activity, they can easily notify you.

The app will also allow you to review your account activity regularly and report suspicious activity promptly. That’s right, in order to protect yourself in this way, you have some work cut out for yourself! Be prepared to have bank representatives respond quickly to your suspicions and for you to respond just as quickly to any of their security and/or fraud alerts. That way when you or they reach out to one another, they can take immediate action on your behalf and put up a protective wall immediately. This can happen at any time and you can be anywhere. Also, avoid attempting to access your financial accounts through email inquiries as you will also need to stay alert to many online threats. This includes avoiding clicking on suspicious links or responding to emails or texts urging you to act quickly. Do not provide personal information like your account numbers, PIN, or Social Security number. If ever in doubt about anything, initiate a separate communication either through the app, by dialing the number on your monthly statement or credit card, or by visiting a branch.

Create strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts and take advantage of any additional security features when available from the institution.  All passwords should include upper- and lower-case letters and special characters.  Try mixing them up and adding special characters which tend to be added at the beginning and end of passwords.

Go further and protect your devices by installing antivirus software and keeping your operating systems, applications, and web browser up to date on your mobile phone, tablet and computer.  Don’t simply buy it and use it- embrace the technology!

You should also know how to identify and avoid scam attempts.  If you provide your information or send money to a scammer, there is often little that can be done to help get your money back. Never, ever trust caller ID: Always validate a person’s organization by calling them back through an official phone number like the one found on your bank statement or back of your credit card.  Scammers may also pose as government officials, law enforcement, or even institutional employees in order to steal your personal information, so always be on the alert.

Here is a list of red flags that might point towards a scam. It is important that you can identify them.  These are many, BUT NOT ALL, of the most common types of scams.

You may be:

◾Pressured to send money

◾Threatened with law enforcement action

◾Told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment

◾Asked to cash a check for a stranger

◾Instructed to make a cash deposit for sweepstakes

◾Offered more than you are asking for something with a request to send the overpayment elsewhere

Let’s make our own personal security a top priority! Therefore, please take these steps in order to help yourself to fight prevalent frauds.

Whether you are a business, individual, or non-profit, we can outline specific steps that you should take to minimize taxes, maximize loan eligibility, and enhance your finances.

For more information, contact us at info@czarbeer.com or (212) 397-2970.

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