News that Chinese hackers have broken into a database of federal government has financial advisors on edge, but there are ways to help your clients take it in stride.
Now, there’s good reason for alarm no doubt. The specific database that has been compromised includes data on more than 4 million active government employees, as well as retirees. This information included Social Security Numbers, job assignments, security clearance applications and more—but it isn’t yet known who was affected and what exact data was stolen.
A good way for wealth management advisors to be proactive is to begin educating clients on how to be more diligent. With all the uncertainties of this breach, financial advisors must begin working with clients to monitor all of their accounts for any suspicious activity. Clients may be too complacent and this could cause problems—most people don’t think like criminals and fail to realize how vulnerable they can be. It is up to financial advisors to educate clients on what to check and to follow up and reinforce those behaviors when the correct actions have been taken.
Even if you don’t have federal employees as clients, it may be a good time to educate clients on the appropriate measures to take in a cyber-identity theft incident. Let’s go over a few tools that you can teach your clients to keep them protected:
- Protect yourself against ‘phishing’—don’t answer questions posed in unsolicited phone calls.
- Withhold any personal information until you verify the legitimacy of the person requesting.
- Do not click on links embedded in unsolicited emails.
- Review all bills to make sure your charges are correct.
- Ask your lenders to forbid additional lines of credit without in-person verification.
These steps will ensure that your clients will take the appropriate measures to respond effectively. One of the best things a client can do is monitor their credit cards. Being proactive and taking the appropriate steps before major issues arise is probably the easiest way to stay on top of identity theft issues and circumvent major problems that can arise from such issues. Doing so early on ensures that your clients retain control over a problem that can easily spin wildly out of control.