Start 2019 Off Cyber Secure

Cyber Security impacts almost everyone and in many facets of our personal and professional lives.

Whether you run a large corporation, operate a small private business, manage a home-based budget, utilize any types of professional or private services, are active in your community, or simply have hobbies and purchase essential products needed for daily life, your private information is online somewhere in cyber space. And since Identity Theft is a common sub-component of Cyber Security, HBK CPAs & Consultants' (HBK) Risk Advisory group wanted to kick off 2019 with some reminders for our clients and colleagues about how to avoid Identity Theft and remain Cyber Secure.

The most common types of identity theft are as follows:

  1. Social Security Number Identity Theft
  2. Medical Identity Theft
  3. Financial Identity Theft
  4. Driver’s License Identity Theft
  5. Character/Criminal Identity Theft

These types of identity theft involving data that are often referred to as PII because they contain Personally Identifiable Information. PII is essential to both personal and professional activities because of the huge number of computer databases where this type of information is housed, such as a electronic medical records, online banking, shopping, or utility accounts, etc.

Here are some suggestions to help to protect your identity, though the list is hardly all-inclusive:

  1. Review your annual free credit report via the Annual Credit Report website. This is why you should:
    • It's authorized by federal law.
    • You are entitled to one free report from each of the following credit bureaus every year.
      - Equifax
      - Experian
      - Trans Union
  2. Regularly monitor your credit cards online.
    • If you have the ability to do so, enable text message alerts for:
      - Purchases over X dollars (You can decide the amount based on your personal financial situation.)
      - Online purchases
      - Periodic account balances
  3. Enable two-factor authentication for all of your online financial and medical accounts.

  4. Consider freezing your credit files. Here are some details about/suggestions for doing so:
    • Evaluate the practicality of taking this step personally because in some states, there is a cost to unfreeze and then refreeze your credit files.
    • Consider how often your information is public and vulnerable and what purchases may be impacting your credit or that would warrant a credit check.
    • Learn more about freezing your credit files at the Annual Credit Report website. Follow these prompts:
      - Choose the “Protect Your Identity” tab,
      - Then choose “Security freeze basics” on the left-hand side of the screen.

The HBK Risk Advisory group can assist you with questions about Identity Theft or any other Cyber Security matters. For more information, please contact Bill Heaven at WHeaven@hbkcpa.com.

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About the Author(s)
Bill is a Senior Manager in HBK’s Information Technology (IT) Department and works out of the firm’s corporate office in Youngstown, Ohio. He specializes in cyber security, IT security, external IT audit, internal IT audit, IT consulting, software Development, IT governance, PCI-DSS, supply chain, system implementations and e-Commerce and has worked for a wide range of industries, including the Public Accounting field. Bill is a certified public accountant, a certified information system auditor, and a certified supply chain professional. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Computer Science from Kent State University. Bill is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA), the Information System Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and the Canfield Chapter of Rotary International.
Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.

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