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Clients must do their part to avoid fraud, identity theft

Attempts to steal your money electronically are ever-increasing.
Attempts to steal your money electronically are ever-increasing. Detroit Free Press

Identity theft and account fraud occur with alarming regularity. Clients and customers must do their part to protect themselves from ever-increasing attempts to steal your money or identity electronically. Start with an examination of your financial institution’s policies and protections to determine your liability.

Financial institutions are under constant pressure from regulators, auditors and compliance officers to prevent fraud when you use a tablet, phone or computer to access your accounts. Federal laws and rules, including the Federal Reserve’s Regulation E, limit client liability for unauthorized electronic access. Consider these simple steps to protect you and your family.

1. Never disclose personal account information. Be wary of marketers who ask for your information over email or telephone. Don’t reply by voice to a random robot call.

2. Ask your financial institution about its protection policies. Would you be covered in the event of a breach? Are you protected if you inadvertently divulge your login, PIN or password?

3. Use enhanced sign-on protocols. Besides your unique user name and password, take advantage of two-factor authentication for added security. Two-step authorization typically uses a key fob with changing pass codes or a text message to your mobile device to verify login.

4. Make sure your web browser is up to date. Outdated browsers may be blocked by your financial institution when you try to log in. Make sure you have the latest version.

5. Look for the extra “S.” A URL containing an “s” as in https:// indicates a secure browser.

6. Remember to log off. Automatic logoff can prevent inadvertent viewing.

7. Promptly report suspicious activity to your adviser or financial institution. If you open a fraud claim, cooperate fully with the representative and law enforcement. Write down your claim or tracking number.

The battle with cybercriminals rages on. Fingerprints and retina scans may replace annoying questions about your car, first date or mother’s maiden name. Convenience and ease of access are wonderful achievements as the paper account statement rides into the sunset. Common sense and a few simple steps can help protect your account and avoid a lengthy, frustrating process to recover your funds — assuming they can be recovered at all.

Mark Daly is managing director, investment officer, Daly & Vachek Investment Consulting Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.; 333-1433. Read the policy for Wells Fargo Advisors clients and bank customers at

This column appears in the February 15-March 14, 2017, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on technology. Click here for the Statesman’s e-edition, which includes Business Insider (subscription required).