In this era of major data breaches, not to mention Chinese and Russian hackers, consumers want to know the companies they do business with are protecting their personal information. And educating consumers about data security policies and techniques is an important part of preventing customer identify theft.
Such was the main takeaway at the ID Theft & Financial Fraud Panel, sponsored by Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific on January 24th. For customers, understanding what different entities do to protect their information is equally important as them knowing what to do to on a daily basis to protect their information. Each organization present on the panel had different policies in place and tips to give.
Cerise Peck, crime prevention specialist for the Richland Police Department, walked the audience through how police handle identity theft. Peck warned that, even if a consumer’s identity has been stolen, they are still on the hook for the data that has been breached. That means they may also bear the brunt of money that’s been stolen or credit that’s been misused.
Because of this, Peck stressed the importance of consumers checking bank accounts regularly, shredding important – but old—documents, and being very careful when and where using debit cards. First and foremost, she told the audience to file a report as soon as they notice something is wrong.
Scott Whistman, financial concierge at Kennewick-based Washington Trust Bank, told the audience about the most common type of scams he deals with at the banking level. This included romance, IRS, employment and lottery scams, citing incidences where he’s seen clients lose hundreds or thousands of dollars to imposter scams.
Whitsman detailed the policies his bank has in place to try and prevent scams, such as freezing accounts when there is abnormal spending and using two-factor authentication to verify identities. His main piece of advice to customers: if an offer seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Finally, Travis Morrow, president of local BBB accredited business 3 Rivers Financial Group, tackled financial fraud, and all the ways investment companies and their affiliates must adhere to strict regulatory policies around cybersecurity to keep client information safe. This includes having a Chief Information Officer, having business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans in place and participating in ongoing cybersecurity training within the investment industry. Investment companies and the entities they work with –such as custodians and broker/dealers – are also expected to
have vendor management plans in place to vet all third-party vendors’ own cybersecurity policies.
Morrow shared a story about how one of his old laptops was so well-encrypted that after it unexpectedly shut down one day, he couldn’t get back on to view his documents. Even after bringing it to two separate IT labs to try and get past the encryption and firewalls, he remained blocked – proving
that the client information stored on that computer was incredibly secure. Luckily, the client information was stored on a separate backup server, too.
Overall, BBB believes educating consumers about ID theft and how to protect themselves, as well as who they can turn to, is the first line of defense in avoiding scams that can lead to major financial losses.