Tips to Protect and Prevent Identity Theft

September 15, 2015

Identity theft and leaking of personal information has become increasingly widespread over the last few years. According to IBM, more than one billion records containing personally identifiable information were leaked in 2014 alone. Threats are constant, from your medical records, to tax refunds, to giant corporations being hacked (Target, Anthem, etc…). Unfortunately, these days becoming a victim of identity theft is not a question of if but likely when. Outlined below are ways to reduce your chances of being affected and how to take action if your identity becomes at risk.

How you are protected:

TD Ameritrade (TDA) / Schwab’s Internal Fraud Protection

Both Schwab and TDA have first-in-class technology and fraud protection. Each employs security measures to constantly monitor and encrypt client accounts and collaborate with government and law enforcement agencies to address potential threats. Schwab goes as far as giving a guarantee that they will cover 100% of any losses in any Schwab account due to unauthorized activity.

Account withdrawals

Another internal control put in place by Schwab/TDA is any withdrawals sent anywhere besides the address of record must be signed off by the client. In addition, for wires a verbal confirmation from the client is required as well.

BDF Monitors Account Transactions for Schwab/TDA

As part of the service we provide to clients, we are constantly monitoring the account activity on each of our client’s accounts. Every day, we receive the previous day’s transactions on each account and pay specific attention to significant deposits or withdrawals.

If you have already been affected by identity theft, you still have options:

1. Personal Monitoring – Monitor your financial statements, bank transactions, and your credit report regularly.

2. Fraud Alerts – The Federal Trade Commission advocates placing a fraud alert on your credit reports and even filing a complaint with the FTC to prevent misuse of your information. To place a fraud alert you can contact any of the three consumer reporting companies: TransUnion: 1‐800‐680‐7289 / Equifax: 1‐800‐525‐6285 / Experian: 1‐888‐ There are two types of alerts – initial and extended:

  • Initial Fraud Alert – Stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. Should be put in place if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft.
  • Extended Fraud Alert – Stays on your credit report for seven years. Should be put in place if you’ve already been a victim of identity theft.

3. Credit Freeze – The next level of protection after fraud alerts is a credit freeze. When you freeze your credit record, you prevent lenders from seeing your credit report unless you specifically grant them access. This can prevent identity thieves from taking out new credit in your name, even if they have your Social Security number and other personal information.

4. Identity Surveillance – The most robust solution is to employ an identity surveillance service. One example of this is LifeLock. LifeLock is relatively low cost identity theft and credit protection tool. LifeLock can alert you whenever your personal information is being used to apply for wireless services, retail credit, utilities, and mortgage loans within their extensive network. If you become a victim of identity theft while you are a LifeLock member they will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery.

While identity theft and leaking of personal information has unfortunately become today’s norm, the steps above can help to limit your exposure and protect yourself.  At BDF, we are constantly working with our clients and their custodians to ensure their financial information is safe and secure. If you have further questions or concerns please contact your wealth management team.