• Christine Centeno, CFPⓇ

Easy Tips to Help Protect Your Personal Data

Data protection has been on my mind a lot lately. During the month of August, I’ve been focusing on updating and conducting a review of the firm’s current cybersecurity policy. It’s also been on my mind personally as well. As a victim of the Equifax, Home Depot and most recently Capital One data breaches (to name a few that I can remember), I am constantly looking for new ways to protect my own information.

I thought I’d share a few tips to keep you safe:

Review your credit report for accuracy and contact the bureaus regarding any errors.

  • Request your credit reports from all three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). This can be done for free at annualcreditreport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that all three bureaus provide you with a free credit report once every 12 months at your request.

  • It's best to stagger requests every 4 months, that way you can stay informed all year. If you find something that doesn’t look right, contact the bureau to have it resolved.

Limit your physical mailbox exposure.

  • Sign up for e-delivery of statements. This helps cut down on the possibility of mail theft.

  • Avoid leaving mail unattended when you go out of town. Place a vacation mail hold for up to 30 days at www.usps.com for free. I recommend doing this even if you have a friend or family member looking out for your mail while you are away just in case they forget to pick up your mail. Make sure the request is entered a few days in advance.

  • Sign up for Informed Delivery from the Post Office- This free service lets you preview copies of your incoming mail each morning via an email. If something doesn't arrive as scheduled you are aware immediately.

Use a password keeper to generate strong passwords.

  • Services like LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane can be used to generate strong passwords as well as keep track of all of your passwords. You'll only be required to remember one master password. I personally love my password keeper, not only is it secure, but its also a huge time saver.

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication where possible.

  • This is an additional layer of security that can be added to many of your e-mail and online financial accounts. It requires another form of identification besides your password from you before allowing access to your account. This could be something like a text, email, or push notification from an app on your phone. I once had a client that had their Gmail account compromised. Within an hour the identity thieves were calling our office pretending to be the client and requesting funds. They didn’t get away with it, but scary none the less. Two-factor authentication could have easily prevented this.

Remove your name and personal information from online directories.

  • It’s always a good idea to limit your personal information that’s available on the internet. Here in the United States, our data privacy laws aren’t as protective as those in Europe. If you do a quick Google search for yourself, you’ll probably find your name, age, address, family members and phone numbers come up on directory sites like www.mylife.com, www.spokeo.com, and www.peoplefinder.com. Although, its a manual process you can request that your information be removed from their sites. A best practice is to find your personal information on the site then scroll down the to bottom of the page to search for a removal or privacy policy link. You will most likely be asked for the URL of the page which contains the information you’d like removed.

Interested in learning more? Read more about my firm, and check out my service options.

Christine Centeno, CFPⓇ, MS is the founder of Simplicity Wealth Management. She has over 12 years of industry experience as a financial advisor and is a member of several professional organizations including NAPFA, FPA, and the XY Planning Network. In 2018 she completed her Masters in Financial Planning. In 2019, after years of working for large firms, she founded her own firm. Simplicity Wealth Management provides clarity to the complicated nature of financial planning and investing by delivering comprehensive advice without hidden fees and unnecessary jargon that leaves you in the dark. The goal is to deliver transparent, easy-to-understand guidance to help clients achieve their financial goals and remain informed every step of the way.


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