We have all read countless stories about the ever-present threat of identity theft. We all know by now that we should shred confidential documents instead of tossing them, intact, into the recycling bin. We dutifully avoid releasing personal information to strange people. We guard our social security numbers. What about e-mail communications, though?
It is easy to forget that e-mail is rarely a secure communications medium. A few moments of your time can save you hours and hours of frustration later if your identity is stolen. Here are a few tips:
• Never open unsolicited e-mails.
• Never use links in e-mails to go to other sites. Instead, use the web address you know to access the vendor’s site.
• Use anti-virus and firewall software. Regularly run virus scans on your computer.
• Never send confidential information via e-mail.
The last bullet point is very important. We have received e-mails from clients that contained account numbers, dates of birth, and social security numbers. While we may ask you in an e-mail to send the information, we also ask that you call us with it. Please do not hit “reply.”
In turn, we will not e-mail similar information to you. We will call you with the information. For your convenience, we sometimes e-mail account documents to you. We will remove account numbers and other confidential information from the document before sending the information to you. We take the security of your information very seriously.
Cristy Freeman, AAMS®
Senior Operations Associate