Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices offers nationwide representation to investors who’ve suffered losses from brokerage accounts that have been hacked or otherwise compromised. In a world in which most brokerage accounts can be accessed online or through smart phones, cybersecurity has become a paramount issue. Log-in information is being stolen by cyberthieves, who then gain access to account information. FINRA, the primary U.S. securities regulator, recently noted that “cybercriminals are perfecting their methods of taking over customer accounts,” according to Financial Advisor Magazine.
“Account takeovers involve bad actors using compromised customer information, such as customers’ log-in credentials, to gain unauthorized entry to their online brokerage accounts,” Financial Advisor reported. “The methods of attack include phishing emails, fake websites, cell phone apps and fraudsters calling customers pretending to be registered reps from the customers’ firms to acquire personal information.”
One of the most common methods used by criminals to steal information is known as “phishing.” They will pose as a bank or brokerage firm to gain log-in or account numbers, then proceed to steal from the person whose account is compromised. Scam artists “aren’t just asking for usernames and log-ins, but are taking a more aggressive approach,” said Bob Colby, FINRA’s chief legal officer. “Once you pick up the phone or click on a link, they ask for names, phone numbers and your mother’s maiden names to mirror real interactions. They’re being super aggressive,” Colby added. Criminals may even be able to “take over” and control a brokerage account.
Cybercriminals may even sell the information they acquire to other thieves. Stolen customer log-in credentials are posted for sale on the “dark web,” a part of the internet not accessed by conventional search engines. Criminals are also using “mobile device emulators to access thousands of online brokerage accounts and have begun using ‘synthetic identities’ to fraudulently open new accounts.” FINRA has warned securities brokers of these increasingly aggressive crimes. “Customer account takeovers have been a recurring issue, but reports to FINRA about such attacks have increased as more firms offer online accounts, and more investors conduct transactions in these accounts, in part due to the proliferation of mobile devices and applications (i.e., “apps”) and the reduced accessibility of firm’s physical locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” FINRA stated.
“Bad actors have taken advantage of these conditions to attempt customer account information, often through common attack methods such as phishing emails and social engineering attempts (e.g., fraudsters calling customers, pretending to be registered representatives from customers’ firms to acquire their personal information).”
Have you invested with broker-advisers who have put your retirement funds at risk or failed to protect your account information? FINRA and the SEC have strict rules on protecting financial information held by brokers and investment advisers. If they don’t secure your account, you may have a case in arbitration. They are obligated to provide solid cybersecurity measures to protect your assets, including reacting to unusual trading or account transfers to unknown third parties.
If you invested with a broker-advisor and lost money as a result, you may have a claim to pursue through FINRA Arbitration. Please contact Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. at 312-332-4200 for a free, no obligation consultation with a securities attorney. Stoltmann Law Offices is a contingency fee law firm which means we do not get paid until you do!