Your Retirement Account Isn’t As Safe As You Think

Nobody knows if Equifax aided the hackers’ dirty work in this case. But it hardly matters. The Equifax breach included most of the U.S. population.

Credit card fraud used to be your biggest hacking risk. But the (late and inadequate!) application of chip technology — and the fact that the card issuer must pay — has led to a big drop in this type of fraud.

Cybercriminals have simply shifted to easier marks.

So-called “noncard” fraud is up sharply, as hackers hijack everything from hotel reward point accounts to mobile phones to cryptocurrency wallets.

The brokerage account takeover that devastated the Voss family is also on the rise. In 2016, such crimes accounted for only 2% of existing noncard fraud. That tripled in one year, to 7% in 2017.

Retirement account hijackings are particularly attractive for cybercriminals.

The balances are usually much larger than savings or checking accounts. People typically don’t check them as often … particularly when the market’s down, to avoid unwelcome news. Many clients have limited digital security skills. Some are elderly enough that someone else routinely handles their retirement account business for them.

Above all, because there are no rules compelling retirement brokers to compensate fraud losses, there’s no incentive for them to get their security act together.

Make Your Retirement Money Shipshape

Last week, I took a day off to do some maintenance on my sailboat. As always, there was more to do than I’d expected. The combination of my long absences and a vessel’s many points of failure means there’s always work to do to keep things secure.

The same is true of your retirement accounts (and other financial accounts). Here’s my list of the steps you must take to keep your own retirement afloat:

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Bob Bauman’s Passport Book is your go-to reference guide any time you travel or live internationally … even if you only take short trips to Canada or Mexico. This important ...

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