Are your accounts secure?
We recently learned about the security breach with Equifax, one of the three largest Credit Reporting Bureaus. The seriousness of this event has led many of us to wonder what we should do to try to minimize the damage caused by this breach. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has compiled information regarding the breach and offers suggestions of steps you can take (link to article).
You may also be wondering about the security of your investment accounts. Here at Advantage Investment Management (AIM), we work very hard to safeguard your information. Since the breach we have spoken with the companies that we work with to confirm their security measures. All the firms we have spoken with are on high alert. The majority of our client accounts are held at either TD Ameritrade Institutional, or Securities Service Network. TD Ameritrade Institutional verifies the identity of all callers requesting account information by asking several questions. No checks to third parties will be issued without a verified signature on a form and a call to the client. Securities Service Network prefers that clients work directly with their advisor and states this to anyone who calls trying to get account information. If the person refuses to go through an advisor, SSN verifies the identity of all callers requesting account information by asking several questions. No checks to third parties will be issued without a verified signature on a form and a call to the advisor of record. Clients can also request that advisors place a block on their accounts, so that no distribution or transfers can take place.
We also work with other firms including Oppenheimer Funds, American Funds, Fidelity, and Security Benefit. Each of these firms have methods of verifying a client’s identity during telephone calls. None of these companies will send a check from your account to a different address or made payable to another person without you first signing a form, of which they match the signature to the account opening paperwork. Also, they have options for us to further secure the accounts where they will not accept transaction instructions via telephone, but only through signed forms, unless the calls are made by the advisor.
As a further precaution we are implementing security questions for our clients to verify our their identities when they call us. While we pride ourselves on our relationships with our clients, and recognize many of their voices when they call us, we feel we can never be too careful. The answer to these questions will not be something that can be easily found online, and we encourage you to create your own questions, if they meet basic security standards. We will begin this undertaking very soon, and plan to have this completed before the end of the year.
Please call us with any questions or concerns you have. We are here to help.