Not long ago, keeping your financial stuff secure meant having a safety deposit box at your local bank. Wow, times have changed. A real or virtual safety deposit box still comes in handy, but it’s only the beginning. Not sure where to start building solid cybersecurity? Welcome to our periodic column, “In Your Cyber-Corner.” As Hill Investment Group’s Chief Operating Officer and resident “sheriff,” I’ll be offering one or two take-homes at a time. Today, I’ll take on the role a Trusted Contact Person (TCP) can play in safeguarding your stuff.

Picture this. You’re celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary on an ocean cruise. Halfway through, your account custodian receives an unusual electronic request from “you,” asking for a substantial cash transfer abroad. Naturally, they would like to confirm whether it’s really you, but they are unable to reach you. They ask us, your advisor, but we can’t confirm your intentions either.

Or here’s another, far less happy, but increasingly common scenario. Unfortunately, your spouse is exhibiting early warning signs of dementia. One day, he contacts your account custodian out of the blue and asks for a cashier’s check on the entire $550,000 balance in his IRA account. Of course it’s his money, but …

What next? Many custodians (including Charles Schwab) allow you to designate TCPs to contact if they suspect you may be subject to financial exploitation, or with questions about your mental or physical well-being. For example, if you’ve named your daughter as a TCP, they can contact her, let her know what has transpired, and seek her input. Spouses also can name one another as TCPs for each other.

Your TCP does NOT have power of attorney (unless you’ve granted that separately). Schwab notes that your TCP “is not authorized to make investment decisions or withdraw funds from your account.” Naming a TCP does enable your custodian to place a temporary hold on suspicious transactions and report the incident to law enforcement agencies.

So go ahead, pack those bags, enjoy your busy life and make the most of your wealth. If you’re interested in more information on designating a TCP, simply email us at service@hillinvestmentgroup, or call us if you’re a Hill Investment Group client and we’ll make it happen.

Hill Investment Group