Protecting Against Identity Theft

 

The recent data
breach at Equifax has highlighted the need for consumer vigilance. Under normal
circumstances, we advise that our clients keep a close eye on their credit,
regularly monitor account activity, and protect personal information to the
extent possible. These standards still apply – but additional measures may also
warrant consideration. In light of recent events, here is some
information for those who may be concerned or impacted.

 

  1. Are you
    impacted?
    Visit
    this Equifax website
    ,
    enter some identifying info, and you can see whether or not your data may
    have been compromised. This will give you a sense of how urgently to proceed
    further, if at all. 
  2. Consider
    protection.
    There are
    many identity theft insurance providers on the market. Equifax is offering free
    coverage, but other companies offer a similar product (for those whose faith in
    Equifax is rattled). Review the options and consider the cost/benefit. Often,
    the coverage is affordable and provides valuable peace of mind.
     
  3. Fraud Alert
    and/or Credit Freeze:
    You
    can contact one of the three major credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion,
    Experian) to take further action. A Fraud Alert will last 90 days and require
    alerts to be generated if/when new lines of credit/inquires are opened. A
    freeze will inhibit such activities indefinitely. Weigh your concern, ability
    to monitor your credit on an ongoing basis, and anticipated borrowing activity
    in the near term. For more information, read
    this article or contact one of the agencies.

 

What about my
accounts?

 At F.L.Putnam, we strive to exceed the protection expected by the SEC (the regulatory body to which we report). Internal controls serve to limit risk exposure and are reviewed, renewed, or replaced in response to a shifting consumer landscape. Measures include, but are not limited to the following:

 

  • F.L.Putnam (FLP) retains an independent accounting of client position & transaction data for the accounts under our management. Through daily data feeds from our custodial partners, we reconcile institutional data with our own. Any inconsistencies or abnormalities are evaluated, down to the penny, and brought to the attention of the client service team as needed. As such, any suspicious transaction is identified, verified, resolved, or acted upon within 1 business day. Such oversight limits the potential for extended irregularities in the event of a data breach.
  • FLP requires verbal confirmation of all third-party transactions. This is in addition to, and in excess of, the written & signed confirmation required by our custodial partners. 
  • FLP employees are trained to censor sensitive/non-public information from client emails, even when replying to inbound messages. Use of secure email and secure file transfer are paired with electronic oversight for the protection of client data. 
  • Clients requesting password re-sets for online file transfer are verbally verified by FLP staff using nonpublic personal identifiers. 
  • FLP contracts with an IT firm that monitors our network 24/7, including firewall monitoring and ensuring anti-virus software and Windows security patches are up to date.
  • FLP requires periodic password changes for our systems for all employees and remote access is only allowed through secure connections.
  • Client information is stored on our servers, with hourly backups throughout the day. 
  • Periodic
    compliance training is mandatory for all employees. Current risks, trends,
    and news are reviewed on a quarterly basis.

 

What can you do to protect yourself?

The security landscape is always changing but here are some best practices that will help protect you.

  • Have anti-virus software installed on all computers and keep them up to date. Choose one that stops online threats in real time.
  • Be selective in choosing your online sites.
  • Be careful about over sharing on social media.
  • Don’t expect privacy on a public WIFI network. 
  • Protect your passwords, choose ones that have meaning to you but are difficult for others to guess. 
  • Never divulge your home address, birth year, place of birth, or anything that could be used as a password hint on social media.
  • Don’t conduct business, legal, or financial affairs via text message. 
  • Periodically change your email passwords even if you’re not required to. If someone guesses your email password, they can read everything you’ve ever sent or received. 
  • If an email looks suspicious, but you are not certain, open it on your smart phone first, not on your computer. Viruses designed to attack you computer will not affect your phone. 
  • Always double check that the email address of the sender is what it should be. No one from a large company will be using a Gmail account. 
  • If something seems suspicious or out of the ordinary, ask someone you trust to look at it before you take any action.

 

Our custodian
partners also take such matters quite seriously. Scrupulous verification of
third party distributions, requiring signatures from account holders, puts a
firewall between your assets and outside parties. Other preventive measures are
available as well. If you are concerned about the security of your brokerage
account, let us know. We can discuss the topic in further detail and provide
guidance on a custodian-by-custodian basis. Contact us for further information.

 

Throughout, we
will continue to uphold our fiduciary duty to you and maintain diligent
stewardship of your F.L.Putnam assets. We appreciate your continued
trust. 

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