Identity theft is more common than ever, with some statistics reporting that about one-third of Americans are victims of identity theft sooner or later. However, wealthy individuals are particularly popular targets for identity thieves, and for one big reason: the potential profit for a successful theft of personal information is much higher.
Simply put, the more money you have, the more identity thieves want to take your identity to get access to your bank accounts, investments, and even crypto tokens. So it’s very important to know key strategies for wealthy individuals to avoid identity theft to protect yourself and your family members.
Respond Very Cautiously to “Urgent” Requests
If you're a high-net-worth individual or executive, you probably get dozens of urgent requests, emails, and text messages per day. Of course, you know that not all of these are truly urgent, but you may respond or open up those emails anyway.
This is a bad strategy. Instead, you should always respond very cautiously to any urgent requests you receive, particularly emails. Urgent emails demanding your attention, a click, or a response are the most common vectors for phishing scams, which involve cybercriminals who pose as officials or trustworthy individuals to get your personal information.
This is a good rule of thumb for any communications you respond to going forward. Respond carefully, cautiously, and only when you can effectively verify the identity of the sender. If anything triggers your instincts or alarm bells when viewing a suspicious text or email, listen to your instincts: it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Always Opt for Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication or MFA is another important identity protection strategy you can employ. In a nutshell, it might involve asking for a password, fingerprint scan, and a security question answer when you want to access your investment or bank accounts.
Multi-factor authentication is so important and effective because it prevents identity thieves from getting access to your personal data or money just by knowing a single fact about you.
For instance, an identity thief might know your birthday and password, but if you use multi-factor authentication and require a security question answer, the thief might not be able to get into your bank accounts anyway.
Consider adopting multi-factor authentication for all of your account access points, including terminals, online portals, and so on. As an added bonus, this is a good security practice to implement at your organization or business across the board.
This leads to the next big identity defensive strategy you can implement…
Use Password Managers
You can and should use password managers for one big reason: no one can be expected to remember dozens of high-quality, strong passwords that involve a combination of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
The best passwords are those that don’t refer to anything in your personal life or history whatsoever. That rules out birth dates, your anniversary, and so on. Good passwords are effectively random, including a sequence of different numbers and letters that no cybercriminal will ever be able to guess, even if they know you very well.
But it's impossible to remember passwords like that, especially if you need passwords for multiple accounts or entry points. Password managers can help by storing those passwords and letting you input them when needed, all while keeping your passwords safe and secure behind an encrypted software platform.
To make it much harder for an identity thief to steal your information, you should always use password managers for all passwords you input anywhere. You never know what an identity thief can glean about you, your other passwords, or your personal habits from a single password breach or account penetration.
By taking this early step, you'll insulate yourself against identity theft attacks and attempts right from the start. It'll be practically impossible for any cybercriminal to brute force their way through your durable passwords, as well, even with very sophisticated algorithms or software programs!
Keep Personal and Business Accounts/Communications Separate
More broadly, it may be a very wise idea to keep your business and personal accounts and communications separate.
Every time you send an email, send a text, or make a phone call, you may give some information to a prospective identity thief. But if you keep all of your communications about business separate from your personal communications, your thief may not be able to transfer that information from one side of your life to the other.
Imagine your email being hacked. If it’s just your personal email, an identity thief might not be able to breach your corporate accounts or vice versa.
Separating your personal and business accounts and communications is a wise strategy in general, as it will limit the potential attack vectors a legal or financial opponent can use if they go after your money (especially if you’re the owner of an LLC, which is ostensibly supposed to protect you from lawsuits).
Share Digital Hygiene Practices with Kids
For many high-net-worth executives and individuals, kids represent the potentially biggest threats to their identity safety. That's because kids just don't know how to protect themselves online, and they may inadvertently give away vital or sensitive information to someone they meet.
Because of this, you need to have a frank conversation with your children about cybersecurity and digital privacy practices right away. Tell your kids, for example, never to chat or talk about what you do online with people that they don't know or haven't met in person.
You should also tell your kids never to share their passwords with anyone, even if the person telling them to share the password seems trustworthy.
This is good for your overall identity protection strategy and for the safety of your kids going forward. After all, the last thing you want is for your children to be vulnerable to identity thieves or other cyber predators.
Monitor Your Digital Footprint (and Consider Dark Web Monitoring)
Your digital footprint is essentially all the signs or information you leave behind as you interact with the Internet. You should monitor your digital footprint through the assistance of a dedicated agency or through antivirus software, which may offer services like dark web monitoring.
Dark web monitoring keeps track of your personal information, like your bank account details, and alerts you if any of that information shows up on a sketchy website or database. If you know this, you can then take steps to change your information, like your security questions or passwords, to all of your vital accounts.
In any case, monitoring your digital footprint will help you keep abreast of potential intrusions into your personal or corporate databases, plus allow you to get a leg up on potential cybercriminals if they attempt to steal your personal information.
Remember, even if they steal it, you can change the information and make it useless in a matter of minutes if you’re aware of the theft.
Keeping Your Assets Secure Alongside Your Identity
Keeping your identity safe online is one thing. Protecting physical assets and fiat currency is another. While many digital threats can come after you via viruses or suspicious emails, other threats to your estate and your finances can come via lawsuits, creditor claims, and much more.
That’s where Dominion can help. Our experienced legal advisors and financial specialists can help you devise and implement an asset protection strategy, often with the use of offshore asset protection trusts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can keep your physical assets safe and sound for years to come.