Three Steps to Take for Security in a Paperless Financial World
We have all been enticed by our financial institutions and others to “go green” for the environment by going paperless and signing up to receive statements, bills and other documents electronically. While the suggestion is presented as an opportunity to behave in an environmentally friendly manner, it is as much about saving money for our financial institutions as is it about saving trees. Nevertheless, going paperless does make financial management and recording keeping much more convenient for many of us, and it’s rapidly becoming the norm.
· SSA has a paperless strategy and SEC will allow electronic ann/qtrly reports beginning in 2021; entertaining charging a fee for paper
· Charging for paper, controversial because not everyone has access to broadband internet and technology.
If you’re still not quite comfortable giving up your documents, you are not alone.
· Despite the hype by companies and even the convenience to us, a larger percentage of us than you might think still choose to receive paper financial documents, including statements.
Whether you’ve already taken the plunge to conduct your financial business electronically, or if you’re still on the fence, here are some tips to help you be sure you’ve taken the appropriate steps to create a secure environment for yourself:
· Actually, READ the privacy policies of the various financial institutions you use. As dry as this may sound, you’ll get a good idea of the issues they address and the tools they use to protect your information. You’ll also get a good idea of what they don’t do, like guarantee your privacy, so you’ll have a better understanding of the risks and know more about what you need to do to protect yourself.
· Do the research to understand the steps you need to take on your end to thwart identity theft. Most people depend on banks and credit card companies to monitor and report suspicious activity, but identity thieves know how to access other personal information from social media, mobile devices and the dark web to steal your tax refunds and health insurance benefits, to name a few. Your financial institution websites also often provide good information to help you understand and take action against identity theft, so look for that when you go to look at their privacy policies. Other information resources include the credit bureaus and the Federal Trade Commission website, consumer.ftc.gov. The latter provides a wide variety of information, from preventing identity theft to addressing it once it has occurred. They also list trending scams that have been reported and provide tips for avoiding being scammed.
· Don’t forget to educate and protect your children and the elderly. Our more vulnerable family and friends are more exposed than ever before in the digital economy. It’s critical to learn how to talk to both our kids and our elderly friends and relatives about protecting their information. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, is also in place to provide control over the personal information companies collect online from kids under 13. The FTC website is also an excellent resource for learn more about the steps to take to here.