Become Cyber Aware

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is kicking off Cyber Security Awareness Month with the following online safety tips:

Always enable stronger authentication. Stronger authentication goes beyond a password to help verify that a user has authorized access. For example, multi-factor authentication can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device. For more information visit the Lock Down Your Login Campaign at

Make your passwords long and strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts and change them regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised. Check out LastPass.com.

Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your devices. Updating software will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.

When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are used by criminals to compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, delete it, don’t click on it.

Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.

Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the entrance for cybercriminals to your devices. Always change the factory-set password and username.

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Don’t Make Yourself an Easy Target

By | 2015, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Identity theft seems to be always in the news and people want to make sure they are mitigating the risk.


Just this last week, a student at the University of Utah discovered he was the target of identity theft. The thief applied and was approved for multiple accounts in the victim’s name and was making purchases. The individual even updated bank information using a new email address he created, unbeknownst to the victim.

What can we learn from this?

  1. Shred anything with personal information.
  2. Check your credit report for suspicious activity.
  3. If you feel you have become a victim, place an immediate freeze on your credit. This prohibits someone from applying for a loan or credit card in your name until you remove the freeze.

Another place identity thieves love is the junk yard. They search through the wrecked and totaled vehicles that potentially contain mountains of papers that can be used to steal your identity.

KSL News recently investigated and found a lot of information that had unknowingly been left in vehicles: bank information, medical records, checkbooks, and tax information,1 all of which contained the perfect recipe for identity thieves: names, address, Social Security, and bank account numbers.

What can we do to make sure our vehicle isn’t a potential jackpot for identify thieves?

  1. Clean out your vehicle regularly.
  2. Don’t store sensitive documents in your vehicle.
  3. Double check all locations, i.e. console, glove box, trunk, and underneath seat, before selling or letting your vehicle be towed after an accident.

An additional item that must not be overlooked is your online presence. It seems like every website requires a login. Some ask for a user ID. Others want your email address. The password requirements differ: letters, numbers, special characters, or all three.

The best passwords are longer than 8 characters; include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters; and are changed every 3 months.

How can you keep track of and secure your passwords?

  1. Memorize them.
  2. Write them down and keep the list secure.
  3. Use a phrase you can remember that is hard to guess. Add variations at the beginning or end.
  4. Have your Internet browser remember them.
  5. Use installed software that remembers them.

Do not make your passwords the same. If one of your logins is compromised, the hacker will try it on your other logins. Another tip: do not write them on a sticky note next to your computer.

We have had many clients ask us about purchasing an identity theft protection product like LifeLock, IDShield, or LegalShield. You can do many things they do for free to protect your identity, such as monitoring your bank accounts, credit card statements, and your credit reports. However, this can be time-consuming.

For a monthly fee, these services monitor your personal information and send you alerts if any suspicious or fraudulent activity ensues. Each of these differs in price and the services they provide.

If this is something you would like, do your homework and research them to find one that offers the right balance of features for the price you are willing to pay.

Identity thieves work around the clock. Unfortunately, they’ve made it their job. Follow these steps to make it harder and don’t make yourself an easy target.


1. Mike Headrick and Tania Mashburn, “Piles of Personal Data Discovered in Salvage Yards,” KSL.com, November 9, 2015.

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Passwords, Hacked!

By | 2014, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Nearly every website you visit wants you to create a login and password. Unfortunately, passwords are the only type of security that most sites are using to verify your identity. So if you want to protect your personal information then you need to make a habit of creating extremely strong passwords.

Some sites want the password to include letters and numbers. Others add the option of special characters. A good password is longer than 12 characters, and includes a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. It should also be updated or changed every 3 months.

An example of a secure password could be: Xvot$Put=qi3. If that sounds complicated, then we’re on the right track. The more complicated, the harder it will be to crack.


That sounds great, but how do you keep track of all these logins and passwords AND still keep them secure? There are several ways to do this and it all depends on your personal preference. Some of these suggestions are more secure than others. You can:

Memorize them all.

Write them all down in a notepad that you keep somewhere secure.

Use a phrase you can remember, but would be hard for others to guess.

Have your Internet browser remember them all.

Use a third party installed software on your computer that remembers them all for you.

Install an App on your smartphone that generates/remembers passwords for you.

Do NOT use the same password with multiple logins. If one of your logins is compromised, the hacker could try it on any of your other logins with success. Take the time to make good passwords and change them every three months to try to avoid getting hacked. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

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Fraud Alert: Email Scam

By | 2014, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Hopefully everyone knows not to reply to an email sent by a “Nigerian prince.” However, criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics. We recently learned of a new email scam during a national conference we attended. The reality of this scam was driven home when one of our own clients was hacked.

One day as I was sitting at my desk, I received an email from a client with whom I had spoken recently. The email said, “Are you in office?” As I was on the phone at the time, I replied I would call as soon as I was done with a call.

The response came, “We are currently out of town, we are here in Mexico and our cell phone is not working here , kindly email available accounts balances as of today.” (Hopefully, you noticed some of the grammar and punctuation mistakes as I did.)

What we had learned in our conference is that the new scam starts by hacking into an email by figuring out the password. Then the crook patiently finds out as much personal information as he can, including names, dates of birth, financial information, etc. Next, the crook will pose as the individual and try to make connections with the individual’s contacts (in this case, me). With so much information about the individual sometimes access is gained to a bank, credit card, or other financial account.

Dollar Sinking In The Sea

Our policy is to never send personal information via email, which inherently is unsecure. For that same reason we won’t accept trade requests via email.

When the email seemed to be fishy, I left a message for the client and waited until she contacted me. The client was indeed on vacation . . . , but not in Mexico. It is likely that the criminal knew she would be on vacation and waited for that moment to make a move.

Thankfully, none of the client’s financial accounts were compromised. However, the episode cost the clients an enormous amount of time and worry.

What lessons can be learned from this?

1. Use strong passwords and change them frequently.

2. Protect your computer. Make sure you have antivirus protection and that you have updated it recently.

3. Encrypt your wireless router by using a WPA key, or password, that will impede hackers using network sniffers.

4. Don’t give your passwords to others. (No one should ever ask.) If you aren’t sure you can trust the emailer/caller, don’t give them any personal information. Find the contact information through an independent source and contact the company that way.

5. Don’t be fooled by emails. Many scammers will send you an email that looks legitimate, but when you click on the link it will download a virus to your computer. Don’t click on any links if you haven’t subscribed to a service from that provider.

6. Limit online purchases and remember that even brick and mortar retailers can have their customer information breached.

If you do make purchases online use credit cards, which typically have fraud protection. If you are compromised the credit card company will usually write-off all of those charges. Debit cards allow thieves to take your money.

In this digital age, cybersecurity is increasingly important. Take a step towards protecting your personal and financial information by first protecting your email.

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