QUESTION 1.) We try to educate clients about the topic of cybercrime, but it can be overwhelming and even scary to them. Do you have any recommendations on the best approach for educating clients?

 Answer: With mainstream news sources reporting frequently on cybercrime, it’s understandable that your clients may be overwhelmed. It might be helpful to start by sharing your firm’s commitment to safeguarding their information and assets and then describing examples of the policies and procedures your firm has in place. That will give you the opportunity to explain why you will always verify any email-based requests via a phone call, and why you may need to probe more deeply into any unusual or potentially unsafe requests they make. Finally, you can highlight Schwab’s commitment to safeguarding their assets and information, and help them access the SchwabSafe® web page. SchwabSafe contains important information, including a description of how we protect accounts at Schwab, what your clients can do to keep their information safe, and the Schwab Security Guarantee.

QUESTION 2.)  What exactly does the Schwab Security Guarantee cover? 

Answer: We want your clients to have the highest level of confidence when they do business with Schwab, so we offer them this simple guarantee: Schwab will cover 100% of any losses in a client’s Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. However, keep in mind that transactions initiated by people who have been granted permission to act on behalf of an account holder, such as an investment advisor, are considered authorized and are not covered. For complete details, log in to the Schwab Advisor Center and visit the Online Security page to read the Schwab Security Guarantee.

QUESTION 3.) Is it safe for me or my team to use public Wi-Fi connections, such as at an airport, restaurant, or hotel, to conduct business when we are on the road?

 Answer: Your information may be vulnerable when you log in via an unsecured wireless network, whether at home or in a public area. Some wireless networks in public areas are open, with no security in place, making it easier for individuals to access and use these networks. Do not use a wireless network when you aren’t certain that the person or company responsible for the network is trustworthy. An alternative may be to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot to connect your laptop to your mobile phone’s cellular signal. Contact your cell phone carrier for information. For additional tips about keeping secure while traveling, log in to Schwab Advisor Center to see SchwabSafe Travel Tips for Your Employees.

QUESTION 4.) We all rely on passwords to control access and protect our information. Can you provide any guidelines or policies around passwords that we should implement at our firm and recommend to our clients?

 Answer: First and foremost, you and your team should always keep your login IDs and passwords confidential. Never write them down or share them among members of your staff. Similarly, never use sensitive information as part of your login ID or password, and create strong passwords that contain at least eight characters, with a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Create different passwords for each website and change them periodically. For additional information, log in to Schwab Advisor Center to see Safeguard Your Firm and Your Clients’ Information.

QUESTION 5.) It’s hard to remember all the passwords we rely on across the various systems we use. Are password manager programs safe? If so, is there one particular solution that you recommend?

 Answer: One of the best ways you, your staff, and your clients can minimize risk and make it more difficult for criminals is to create complex passwords, update them periodically, and use a different user ID and password for each site. To make it easier to adhere to the guidelines above, some people use a password manager program. While it is possible for a master password to be compromised, many users choose this solution because there is only one password to remember. When using a password manager, each password is associated with one URL. Therefore, if a user accidentally clicks a link leading to a phishing site that looks legitimate, the password manager will not automatically enter a password for a URL that the user has not previously visited.

QUESTION 6.) What are the key first steps when we suspect an email account has been hacked or otherwise compromised? 

Answer: Whether the email account that you suspect has been compromised is yours or your client’s, time is of the essence: The sooner the issue is reported, the greater the likelihood of a potential recovery. However, even when you act quickly, there are never any guarantees. As an advisor, you should follow your internal procedures and immediately report unauthorized transactions to Schwab. You can also remind clients of the Schwab Security Guarantee. Recommend that your client run an antivirus/antispyware system scan, change passwords and email addresses, visit (search “identity theft”), and call the Schwab Alliance team to request a verbal password and/or security token. Log in to Schwab Advisor Center and read Preventing Fraud: Three Steps to Defend Your Firm and Your Clients to learn more. 

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