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Protect your online brokerage account from fraud

Investor-dot-gov-promoAs with all web-based accounts, investors should take precautions to help ensure that their online brokerage accounts remain secure.  

The Security and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy offers these online security tips: 

Pick a “strong” password, keep it secure, and change it regularly. 

Select a strong password for your online brokerage account. A strong password is one that isn’t easy to guess and generally uses eight or more characters that include symbols, numbers, and both capital and lowercase letters. A strong password is not based on common words, phrases, or personal information such as a name or birthday. Keep your password in a safe place and out of plain sight. Never share your password on the Internet, by e-mail, or over the phone. In addition, you should change your password regularly.

Use two-step verification, if available.

Your brokerage firm may offer or require a two-step verification process for access to your online account. With a two-step verification process, each time you attempt to log into your account your brokerage sends a unique code to either your e-mail or cell phone. Before you can gain access to your account, you must enter this code and your password.

Use different passwords for different online accounts (for example, brokerage, banking, retirement, or other similar financial accounts).

 Avoid using the same password for different online services, particularly for financial accounts. Using a single password for different online financial accounts is the equivalent of using a single key for your car, house, and mailbox – if the key is lost or stolen, you potentially give away access to everything. While using multiple passwords increases the difficulty of managing passwords, it significantly improves security.

Avoid using public computers to access your online brokerage account.

Try to avoid accessing your online brokerage account on a public computer. 

For more information, read the SEC’s Investor Bulletin. For additional educational information for investors, see the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s homepage and the SEC’s Investor.gov website.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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