Powerful smartphones, countless apps, and online finance options have made investing more convenient than ever. With the click of a mouse or press of a button, Virginians can check investment account balances, buy investment products and services and much more while on-the-go. These conveniences have, unfortunately, given scammers new ways to separate investors from their money. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages all Virginians to treat internet security seriously when they invest using online resources.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently issued an investor awareness advisory to help investors better understand the potential threats to their online financial accounts and how to protect themselves from cybercriminals. The advisory addresses several threats that investors should be aware of, including:
Data breaches, including incidents that may expose confidential or protected information, as well as the possible loss or theft of private data that can be used to steal consumers’ identities and assets.
Phishing scams, which involve scammers using fraudulent emails, text messages, or phone calls to impersonate legitimate people and entities to trick consumers into giving out personal information.
Skimming, which involves the use of technology fraudulently installed into a debit or credit card reader to obtain personal PIN numbers and other account-holder information.
Public Wi-Fi scam, which involves the potential loss of personal financial information when using public Wi-Fi networks to shop online or access personal information.
The SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) offers a full list of resources that investors may use to keep themselves safe online. Before making any investment decisions, ask questions, do your homework and contact the Division at 804-371-9051 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945. For more information, visit the Division’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments or the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website at nasaa.org.