These online security tips could save you lots of trouble

If you’re not paying attention to digital security, you’re doing it wrong.

Article published: November 07, 2023


In this article:

  • If you’re online, you and your money are under threat
  • To protect yourself, use all available security features and maintain a healthy skepticism
  • Make it a habit to pause and think before you act on your financial accounts – are you about to open a door to cyber criminals?

If only everyone had your best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, your personal information – and the access it allows to your money – is a valuable asset. And like all valuable assets, that means it can be coveted by criminals.



of people think the loss of personal information online is unavoidable
Source: National Cybersecurity Alliance

of Americans have experienced data theft

Source: Pew Research


The good news is that there’s a lot you can and should do to protect your security online. But it’s not enough to focus on one or two strategies or technologies and call it a day. By layering multiple forms of protection, you stand a much better chance of keeping your information and money secure.

We’re going to walk through some steps to take if you haven’t already.

First, protect yourself with tight security

  • Use updated technology to keep your accounts as secure as possible. If your devices (computers, tablets and phones) are capable, use biometrics to secure them and access to your money. This could mean you unlock them with your fingerprint, face or voice – something unique to you.
  • Turn on any additional security settings your financial providers offer. For example, with two-factor authentication, you need to provide the right user ID and password – as well as a second piece of information only you should have. Many times, this means a random code sent to your email or cell phone.
  • Speaking of passwords, make sure your passwords are as strong as possible, don’t use the same ones on multiple accounts and change them regularly. If you have trouble remembering good passwords, use a password manager or vault to generate random passwords and store them for you. (Even if you’re the rare person who can remember 50 unique, hacker-resistant passwords – and which sites they go with – using a password manager will make your life easier. And who wouldn’t want that?)
  • Keep your hardware and software up to date. Tech companies consistently release patches as hackers find new vulnerabilities they can exploit to gain control of your devices. Download these patches as soon as possible.


Security spotlight: One client’s story

Kyle spent a lot of time in Asia, so when his planner Dave received an email with new banking instructions and couldn’t reach him by phone, nothing seemed immediately amiss. But when Dave sent a secure message to request the appropriate documentation, Kyle knew something was very wrong.

Kyle and Dave acted quickly to add additional security measures to Kyle’s investment accounts and monitor his credit for other fraudulent activity. Lesson learned: If your financial provider reaches out to you and you’re not expecting it, contact them immediately through a secure, known channel – don’t click links or call random phone numbers!


Now embrace your inner spy

Thinking about security from the get-go is a great start, but it’s not enough. Be on the constant lookout for ways criminals could get ahold of your information – or red flags that they already have.

  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access your financial accounts. If you must log in from the airport or a coffee shop, use a virtual private network. And use an AC charger and your own cable when charging your phone in public locations – hackers can corrupt USB ports with malware that will give them access to your devices.
  • Don’t click links or open attachments in an email or text or give out information on an unsolicited phone call. Phishing communications can be pretty convincing, and they’ll make the situation sound urgent. If you’re not expecting it, don’t click it.
  • Be especially vigilant during tax time, the holidays or times of transition. For example, we’ve seen an increase in convincing-looking email and text phishing attempts related to the recent Schwab/TD Ameritrade merger. (If you’re a client and you get a notification that something’s up with your account, call your planner right away!)
  • Go digital with your account documents (for example, statements) to cut off one potential avenue to identity theft; physical mail isn’t as secure. But if you print anything that contains personal and financial information, don’t ever just toss it in the trash – shred it first. See more about protecting yourself from identity theft.
  • Monitor your credit. You can do this manually – by getting a free annual credit report from each of the major agencies – or sign up for a service that will monitor it for you and alert you of any changes.
  • Regularly review activity on your credit card and bank accounts. Tedious? Maybe, but it’s well worth the minor effort. And sign up for text notifications that can immediately flag anything that seems off.
  • Tell your financial providers if they should be on alert for suspicious activity. For example, if you’re leaving the country for several weeks or months and won’t be accessing your accounts, let them know.

Security spotlight: One client’s story

Schwab, the custodian for Larry’s assets, became suspicious when someone claiming to be him called in asking questions about his accounts. Their risk department alerted his planner, Justin, who contacted Larry right away. Larry knew that his identity had been stolen but hadn’t notified all his financial providers yet.

Justin and Larry immediately placed additional security measures on his account. Lesson learned: Notify all your financial providers if you’ve become a victim of fraud somewhere else – criminals move quickly.



Becoming a fraud victim is scary. But there are specific actions you can take, laws that protect you and organizations that will help you. Contact your planner right away and take these additional steps if your identity’s been stolen.

Cyber criminals work hard, but you can work harder. By following the steps above, you’ll have a much better chance of staying protected and catching any issues quickly.

How edelman financial engines protects our clients

  • We confirm all requests to move money verbally.
  • We run daily reports to monitor client account activity.
  • We add alerts to your account if you let us know you’re a fraud victim or have other security concerns.
  • We use additional security measures to make sure it’s really you on the phone when we speak to you.

Planner and client names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

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