Man entering login and password into laptop

Staying Safe in an Online World

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a new instance of identity theft is reported every 2 seconds. Here are a few reminders on how to stay safe in an online world.

Safeguard Your Personal Information

  • Cybercriminals can use your Social Security number to create a new identity. Take a moment and ask how your personal identifiable information will be used before disclosing it.
  • Every online account should have its own unique password, so thieves who break into one can’t access them all. Use simple phrases to create longer, more complicated passwords.
  • Be thoughtful about what you share on social media. Wait until after vacation to post any pictures, and don’t participate in online quizzes that ask for personal information.

Safeguard Your Documents

  • Thieves can use old financial and tax documents to steal your identity. Shred what you no longer need.
  • Cybercriminals love old online accounts: They contain personal data but are often less secure. As best you can, delete orphaned accounts you no longer use.
  • Check your financial statements frequently and contact your banking institutions if anything looks out of place.

Safeguard Your Electronic Communications

  • Don’t use public computers or Wi-Fi to conduct sensitive transactions. Use a VPN or Hotspot instead, and keep your device’s antivirus software and operating system up-to-date.
  • Be wary of any email or text urging you to take action by clicking a link. If you think a request is legitimate, go to the sender’s website or app or contact them offline. 
  • Before recycling or disposing of old computers or smartphones, fully wipe all data.

When it comes to staying safe in today’s world, a little forethought can go a long way. For more about these and other identity protection strategies, reach out to your Baird Financial Advisor.


Save It or Shred It?

Scanning and securely storing digital copies of important documents is always a good idea. Should you decide to work exclusively in hard copy, though, here’s brief guide to how long you should keep them.

Save It!

Birth and death certificates
Copies to executor, family members

Pension plan documents
Copies to Baird Financial Advisor

Divorce decrees
Copies to lawyer

Health and immunization records
Copies to doctor

Retirement plan benefits
Copies to Baird Financial Advisor

Legal contracts and agreements
Copies to lawyer

Canceled checks (for assets of significant value)
Keep to establish cost basis

Shred It!

Identification like passports and driver’s licenses
Shred when replaced

Wills and trusts
Shred when a new one is signed

Tax returns
Keep as long as is feasible, minimum of three years

Loan documents
Shred 10 years after repayment

Canceled checks (for day-to-day purchases)
Shred after check clears