Protect your 401k from thieves

Photo Credit: MGN Online
Photo Credit: MGN Online

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Another day, another data breach — or at least that’s how it seems. A data breach at White Lodging, which manages hotel brands like Marriott, Sheraton, and Hilton is causing new concerns about security, but events like these are not the only things that can put your money at risk.

If you are someone who regularly uses credit or debit cards and checks account balances, it likely wouldn’t take you long to notice fraudulent charges. A lot of consumers use plastic to make purchases on an almost daily basis. But what about money you’re not handling as frequently, such as the piece of your paycheck going into your retirement account?

Milagros Johnson of Springfield’s Office of Consumer Information says that your retirement is something that you ought to keep tabs on.

“Consumers don’t think about it until they’re ready to need it or use it.  They think it’s on the back burner, it’s safe. ‘I’m not going to touch it.’ You might not need to touch it, but you never know what perpetrator might try to hack into that,” Johnson said.

For those perpetrators, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s why it’s important to make a habit of monitoring your 401k statements as regularly as you do your other accounts, though you should never do so from a public computer or your phone.

Jacqueline Ford of Springfield told 22News that she takes precautions.

“Right now I’m not really worried about it. I watch and pay attention to where I access my information. I think a lot of people have that mindset that ‘it won’t happen to me,’” Ford said.

22News is working for you with other tips to protect the money you’re saving for later:

  • Research your financial institution’s fraud policies — set up alerts if you can.
  • Use strong user names, passwords, and security questions. Switch them up often, and never share them.
  • Maintain your anti-virus and firewall protection on your home computer.
  • Never respond to emails with personal information like account numbers or your social security number by email; even if it looks like it’s from your bank.

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