Protecting our identity, our data, and our assets from online hackers is becoming more important and more challenging every day. When one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus is hacked, we’re doubly reminded of the dangers.
Just in case you haven’t seen the news in the last couple of days, Equifax has experienced a major breach that has compromised company data (Social Security numbers, names and addresses) of an estimated 143 million U.S. consumers. The company has created a web site that is supposed to tell you whether Equifax believes your personal data was part of the breach. The company is also offering free credit monitoring for one year for all Americans, regardless of whether your data has been breached or not.
In addition, I highly recommend you read today’s Your Money column (by Ron Lieber) in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com - front page) for more insight and some actionable steps to enhance your own personal security.
Let me say a few words about your accounts under my and First Affirmative’s management. Whether your accounts are at Charles Schwab or FolioFN Investments, know that these custodians are always highly vigilant about the security of your assets. Each of these companies (as well as virtually all major banks and securities firms) receives thousands of fraudulent attempts to access client accounts each year, and each has developed very sophisticated cybersecurity defenses against these attempts. In addition, they are also insured for client losses should any of these attempts succeed. Few ever do. Attention to cybersecurity is also an integral part of the operations of both SRI Investing and First Affirmative.
As of yesterday, and for the foreseeable future, if you wish to request a withdrawal from any of your accounts, I would ask that you email the request to both Karen Kiriazis and me. When I see the email request I will call you to verify your request. If you don’t hear from me right away, please call me and leave a message as well. We will not process a withdrawal or outgoing transfer until I have spoken to you by phone. Finally, as I’ve done before, I urge you not to attach any documents with sensitive information to any emails you send to us. If you need to send a document to us, we will provide you with a more secure cloud transfer process to do so.
Please take care and stay vigilant.