Interest growing in exotic IRAs
Fat refund for fraud-based tax payments

Upgrading online account security

Is there something new going on with the federal privacy notice law?

Back in 1999, the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act went into effect. This is why once a year, usually in the summer, we get those notices, i.e., an extra piece of paper in snail mailed bills and financial statements or a special e-mail if we access the accounts electronically, detailing the information-sharing practices of companies and creditors that collect our financial data.

Despite the law's good intentions, I suspect that most of us just toss or delete this annual material.

Recently, though, I've been getting e-mails from a couple of our accounts, including our mortgage company. They're not specifically about a privacy policy, but I thought they might be connected to the federal effort to police/protect personal information.

These latest communiqués all inform me that the companies are updating their online account access mechanisms. The next time I log on to these accounts, according to the company alerts, I'll have to deal with some new layers of security.

I don't have a problem with that. It'll just take a minute or two and I'm all for protections against identity thieves. Having been through an ID theft ordeal myself once, I never want to hassle with that again.

But since I've gotten the same basic notice from several unrelated companies, I'm just wondering if there's some new requirement out there. It seems a bit too focused to be mere coincidence.

I did a quick Google search, but I didn't see any mention of federally-mandated security upgrades by companies that allow customers online access to their accounts.

Do any of y'all know? Are you getting these notices, too?

Make sure they're real: Before anyone asks, yes, these are legitimate, not spam scams.

Plus, I don't click on links in e-mails from my financial account managers even when I know they're real. I just open a new browser and log on independently to my accounts.

Avoid_id_theft_logo2 Just in case you need a refresher on ways to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission's ID theft site. Once there, I specifically recommend you check out the OnGuard Online Quiz, aka ID Theft Faceoff, for a couple of reasons.

First, it's an interactive quiz in which you get to create an online avatar who's had his or her ID stolen. But your simulated persona isn't completed unless you answer all the questions correctly.

That's right. You get to add a facial feature for each right answer. So choose your responses and eyes, nose, ears, etc. carefully. At least the questions are easy so you shouldn't end up looking like a B-movie horror flick character.

But mostly, especially if you're a vidiot of a certain age, I suggest you click on the quiz because the opening and closing music is very reminiscent of, as the TV announcer used to say, a Quinn Martin production. Too funny!


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