There are easy ways to help prevent identity theft Frank Abagnale told advisors at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami

There are easy ways to help prevent identity theft, Frank Abagnale told advisors at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami.

Low-Tech Cybersecurity Solutions

For many advisors and their clients, many core cybersecurity issues still revolve around identity theft. But there are some low-tech solutions advisors can put in place to make it much harder for thieves to get sensitive information.

American security consultant Frank Abagnale, an expert on forgery and document theft who was the subject of the film Catch Me If You Can, told attendees of the MarketCounsel Summit that U.S. losses from white collar fraud amounts to about $994 billion a year.

For most identity thieves, the first stop is Facebook, where they can obtain a lot of personal information. Advisors should limit the amount of information they post on any social media sites about themselves or their business, Abagnale recommended.

“Everything you say on Facebook is retrievable. Everything you delete and erase is retrievable at any time. So you have to teach people about the power of the statements they make,” Abagnale said.

The second place most criminals obtain information? The hard drives on copy machines. “Since 2002, all copiers have a hard drive in them. So my question to you is when you've sold your copier or had it replaced under your lease, did you remove the hard drive?,” he asked. Abagnale told advisors the best solution is to simply remove the hard drive and store it in a safe, rather than trying to destroy it, as most cyber criminals can extract information from even the most damaged of devices.

The other area that advisors can beef up their security is through their shredding policies. All advisors should own a shredder, but not just any kind. Abagnale says the best are security micro-cut shredders. Documents shredded using a straight-cut shredder can be re-assembled in as little as an hour by experts. And while criss-cross shredders are better, expert criminals can also re-assemble the information.

“You’re looking for a micro-cut shredder so that when you destroy your clients’ information, no one has the ability to put that information back together again,” he said, adding that the 56 field offices of the FBI all use these types of shredders because they turn “paper into confetti.”

For those advisors using an outside vendor for their shredding, Abagnale recommends having the company perform the task on-site.

“I want to make sure I’m out there watching them do it. I do not like to have them drive away in a truck with it,” he said. 

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