Hackers and other scammers lurk around every corner of cyberspace, seeking ways to penetrate firewalls and other digital security systems to steal people’s personal information for their own gain. In 2015, for example, the Identity Theft Resource Center (www.idtheftcenter.org) logged 781 data breaches among U.S. companies and organizations, the second highest annual total since it began tracking breaches in 2005. And for the first time, the banking/credit/financial sector landed among the three sectors with the highest prevalence of reported breaches: 71, almost double the number in 2014.
When it comes to data breaches involving financial information and other personal data, “Everybody is vulnerable,” says Certified Financial Planner® Neil Waxman, managing director at Capital Advisors, Ltd., in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “People with algorithms all over the world are constantly banging away, trying to access sensitive information.”
Because cybercriminals clearly are getting better at what they do, you’d better be sure the financial professional and firm with which you do business (or are considering doing business) are taking steps to keep your sensitive personal and financial information from getting into the wrong hands.
Here are some questions that Waxman suggests asking your financial advisor (or prospective advisor) to gauge how serious he or she and their firm are about protecting client information.