While protecting your financial data has always been important, it grows even more critical as you start planning for retirement. From preserving your retirement savings to maintaining financial independence to avoiding stress, you want to keep all the assets you've accumulated by hard work. Here are a few steps you may take to protect your financial information now and in retirement.
Shred Sensitive Documents
Although most financial fraud is committed over the internet these days, some scammers still rely on old-fashioned approaches—and there's no need to make it easier for them! Always shred financial statements, old tax returns, and any other documents containing personal or financial information before you dispose of them.
Secure Your Mail
On a similar note, you should have a way to secure regular mail, especially if it's delivered to an unlocked mailbox. Be sure to collect your mail promptly to prevent theft of sensitive documents or financial statements. If you travel frequently and cannot get your mail the day it's delivered, consider investing in a locking mailbox with a slot.
Secure Your Personal Identification
Keep your Social Security card, passport, and other sensitive identification documents in a secure place, such as a locked safe. Don't carry these cards or documents in your wallet or leave them in your car unless absolutely necessary, such as when traveling.
Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Create complex and different passwords for each financial account. Consider using a password manager to store and manage your passwords securely. Whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication for your online financial accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to type in a code texted to your phone or sent to your email.
Beware of Phishing Scams
Always be cautious about unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls requesting personal or financial information. One of a scammer's most effective tools is a false sense of urgency. Financial agencies understand that you may need to verify that a request is legitimate. Scammers pressure you to make a quick decision by telling you your accounts will be locked, or your credit cards will be canceled if you don't immediately comply with their requests.
Secure Your Devices
Protect your computer, smartphone, and other devices with strong, up-to-date security software. Encrypt your data and use screen locks with PINs or biometrics. Always avoid conducting sensitive financial transactions on public wireless networks. If you absolutely must use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN.
Consider a Credit Freeze
If you're not actively seeking new credit, consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports. This restricts access to your credit information, making it far more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
Taking these precautions can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to identity theft as you approach retirement. Consider consulting with a financial professional to manage your accounts. Have them set up in a way that manages the risk of fraud and provides a secure transition into retirement.