Is Your Retirement Account Protected by a Strong Password? If It Is Not, You Risk Losing It All
Long gone are the days when we relied on old coffee cans to hold our money for retirement. Economies are unstable, and money continues to devalue, which is why people now understand that it is best to rely on savings accounts and retirement accounts to protect personal assets. Unfortunately, many people believe that once they place their money into the hands of employers or investors, they are completely safe. That is not necessarily the case. Sure, they are responsible for investing your money in an efficient manner, and they need to offer basic security on their end, but some of the responsibility falls onto your shoulders as well, and if you do not take care of your retirement account, there’s always a possibility that someone malicious could soon start pocketing your savings.
According to a report published by NAPA (National Association of Plan Advisors), between 2017 and 2018, retirement account fraud has increased three times when compared to the previous year. The report also indicates that while cybercriminals are becoming more and more interested in taking over retirement accounts, they are also attacking retirement systems overall. Obviously, the administrators of such systems are the ones responsible for them, and they are the ones who need to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit to take over. When it comes to individual accounts, their owners are very much responsible for ensuring that they take all available security precautions to ensure that no one can take over. If you have never thought about this before, you might feel confused and lost, but the reality is that taking care of one’s security online is not all that difficult, given that there are plenty of security implementation options already available.
Do you want to protect your savings? Update retirement account passwords
The first thing you need to think about is whether or not your employer or investor is taking care of your assets appropriately. It is easy to compare your 401k with other plans online, but when it comes to security, you might have to go straight to the source. Whether that is your employer or a personal account manager, you want to discuss with them what kinds of security measures are taken to ensure that your money does not disappear into thin air. They might also be able to guide you and advise you on how to better secure your account. However, before you even get the chance to discuss that with them, there are things you can do today to strengthen the security of your account.
When was the last time you changed your password? If it hasn’t been changed in years, there is a good chance that it is already vulnerable. Unfortunately, it has been reported that two out of three users online reuse passwords. That means that they use the same password to lock multiple accounts. You might think that that is not a terrible idea if your password is strong enough, but even if you use the strongest password ever – and who knows what that might look like – you will not be safe. The thing is that data breaches that lead to leaks of passwords and other login data continue to occur, and that means that even if you use strong passwords, cybercriminals might be able to obtain them due to security issues faced by service providers. So, let’s say you use the same password for your Facebook account and for your retirement account. If Facebook experiences a data breach and leaks your password, cybercriminals can use it during brute-force attacks to take over all other accounts that share that same password.
We cannot blame massive data breaches for our security woes in all cases. In fact, people can be tricked into disclosing passwords themselves. For example, phishing emails can be set up to resemble emails sent by an employer or a retirement account manager. These emails might include links to malicious websites that, at first sight, look like legitimate retirement account login pages. The emails might also introduce you to requests to confirm your password. Obviously, if you are alerted about a security incident, you must update retirement account password immediately, but only after you confirm that the incident is real. Whenever you are asked to reveal or change your password, you need to be very cautious because it all could be a scam designed to extract sensitive data. Do not forget to be cautious about phone scams either! If someone calls you and asks you to identify yourself or reveal sensitive information, do not lose your vigilance.
A huge problem with retirement accounts is that they are not monitored as closely as, for example, credit card accounts. Some people forget about them altogether, and check to see the growth of savings or the success of investments once or twice a year. Due to this, some people discover theft months after the incident occurs. Even if the account is monitored more closely, cybercriminals are not dumb, and they know not to take everything away all at once. This was the story recounted by Beth Bennett, who shared that cybercriminals stole $72,000 from her retirement account one check at a time when the attackers were able to change the mailing address and send unauthorized checks to themselves.
In conclusion, if you want to ensure that you are safe, you must update retirement account password, and you also need to beware of scams. When it comes to updating the password, remember that it has to be unique, long, and contain random letters/numbers/symbols. In fact, every single password you set up has to be long, random, and unique, and if you need help managing all of the complex and impenetrable passwords you create, we suggest employing a trusted password manager. Do not forget to watch out for phishing emails, phone scams, and links that might lead to fake login pages. Also, make sure you get in the habit of checking your accounts more frequently to ensure that you do not overlook theft, and do not waste any time to report any unauthorized transactions or changes within your account to appropriate parties.