Tips & Advice

Don’t let criminals threaten your retirement plans

Larry Larsen, Director of Cyber Security

Retirement has changed a lot over the last 30 years. One of the biggest changes is how much the Internet connects so many people around the world, including criminals looking to profit from your hard work and life savings.

Overall, the technical threats you see every day — computer viruses, ransomware, and phishing — don’t change much when you retire. However, mischievous opportunities might actually increase and when they do, the bad guys are ready. They rely on the fact that as we age we’re less likely to keep up with current cyber security news and we’ll be lazy about protecting our accounts.

In a previous column, we discussed why cyber security is important when traveling, and because many retirees spend a lot more time globe-trotting than they did when they were working, these tips still apply:

  • In the days leading up to your trip, takes a few moments to submit a Travel Notice (Account Tools menu) within Online Banking or the Mobile App. That way, we can ensure continuous account access while traveling.
  • Never make purchases over a public wireless network.
  • Use your mobile phone and the CardValet® app to protect and manage your debit cards on the road.


  • If you’re already an investor, you may want to ask your financial planner if your accumulated shares fall under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a recent European Union (EU) law that provides a lot of privacy requirements for businesses with interests or customers in the EU. Funds that are not compliant with the GDPR may be ones to avoid.

    Consider having a discussion with your advisors about how their company and your fund sponsors protect your personal and financial information. Identity theft against older adults is rising, and your advisors and fund sponsors are responsible for protecting the information and assets with which you entrusted them. Speaking of identity theft, if you do not currently have an ID protection service to monitor your credit profile and help you resolve potential problems, I strongly urge you to consider getting it. Apple FCU currently offers PrivacyArmor®, a proprietary monitoring platform that detects high-risk activity to alert you at the first sign of fraud. The service will scour the dark web for compromised credentials and monitor financial transactions, all while keeping tabs on your credit reports. It’s a great way to protect your privacy, identity and finances.

    There are other things to be cautious about, now that you’re spending more time at home. Keep an ear out for scam artists calling you with everything from requests for charity contributions to threats of arrest from unpaid taxes! It may sound harsh, but nowadays it’s safest to decline unsolicited charity requests by cold-callers; if it’s difficult to say “no,” you can tell them you’ll look at their website and then decide, but you never know who is really on the other end of the phone.

    The IRS – or any other government agency – as well as the Credit Union, will NEVER call you and make threats over alleged unpaid taxes, and no one legitimate will ever call you to get a better credit card rate. These calls have one goal in mind: to separate you from your hard-earned cash. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. To read more on the topic, our Fraud & Prevention site shares several additional articles specifically for older adults.