Bartlett has always taken cybersecurity very seriously. While caution is always our approach, current global events are making vigilance even more important. There has been a notable uptick in the number of instances of cybercrime and fraud since the invasion of Ukraine. We want to ensure you have the information you need to protect yourself and your data.
Our computers are a goldmine of personal data
Bad actors often use email scams to get your personal information. Here are some tips on staying safe:
- Use a password manager to keep your passwords secure. These managers keep all your passwords together in one program and help you generate passwords that are difficult for criminals to discover. At Bartlett, we have used LastPass, and there are others that are inexpensive or even free. Set complex passwords and use different passwords for every website. 123456 is not a good password. Neither are thisismypassword or Password123. Use a long series of letters, numbers, and symbols for the best protection – a password manager can help you generate a strong one. And remember, never share your password with anyone else.
- Install updates to browsers and computers. It can be second nature to dismiss update prompts when they appear on our desktops, but these often contain critically important security updates. Take a moment to run the update – it’s worth a few minutes to stay protected.
- Enable multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication allows you to verify a login request using an email, phone call, text, or smartphone app. Think of it as using something you know (your password), something you have (your email account or phone), and something you are (your fingerprint or iris). Many websites and apps offer this level of security, so we encourage you to enable it wherever it is available.
- Never click a link in an email or open an attachment without investigating it first. Bad actors can use links and email attachments to attack your computer or phone. If you receive an email with a link or attachment, think before you click. Bad actors do a great job of mimicking real people who may reach out to you – your HR department, government agencies, computer providers, even friends and family. You can hover over the link with your mouse to see more information about the site it claims to be. Be extra vigilant when using your phone or tablet as it can be more difficult to hover over a link or inspect a suspicious attachment before opening it.
Phone scams are on the rise
While email scams are still common, bad actors are constantly updating the ways in which they try to trick you. Phone calls and texts are also avenues fraudsters use.
- Be suspicious of urgency. Never respond directly to an urgent text or phone call from anyone claiming to be from your bank, broker, lawyer, wealth advisor, or other trusted institution. To verify a claim, contact that person directly and not as a reply to the original message.
- Be wary of text messages with links. Unless you know with 100% certainty that you have received a message from someone you know and trust, do not click a link in a text message. A quick phone call to the person or institution that text claims to be from will help verify the message’s legitimacy.
- Watch out for the gift card scam. It is becoming increasingly common for criminals to use gift cards as their preferred method of stealing money. A legitimate institution, including Bartlett, the IRS, the judicial system, or your bank, will never ask you to make a payment using gift cards. This is an automatic red flag.
The bottom line is that fraudsters are creative, determined, and ruthless in their pursuit of people’s information and money. A good rule of thumb is that if you receive anything – a call, text, email, voicemail – that makes you say, “hmmm,” do not engage with it! As always, if you are concerned about a cybersecurity situation you may be facing, reach out to your Bartlett team directly or call our main office number at 513-621-4612.