Got a Retirement Account? Watch Out Vigilantly for Thieves – Don’t Assume Someone Else Will.

By Rachel Puryear

For many people, much of what they have saved is in a retirement account (which is a good idea). As this is now where a great deal of the money is at, such accounts are now becoming a popular target for thieves. You don’t want to work and sacrifice your whole life only to have your hard-earned retirement savings stolen away, and then have an impoverished retirement. So, extra vigilance with retirement accounts is critical – even more so than with money deposited in banks.

Dog grabbing shirt of thief trying to steal huge bag of money.

Often, consumers enjoy far fewer security protections with their retirement accounts than they do with money deposited in traditional banks. Consumers are expected to be entirely responsible for detecting fraudulent account activity on their own – even though probably most consumers do not monitor their retirement accounts very closely, and even fewer likely realize that they need to.

Consumers have been victims of theft from their retirement accounts after thieves hacked their accounts and impersonated them, then stole their money. Fidelity, the institution where they held the account, told them they could not restore the stolen funds because the consumers reported the theft more than 30 days after it occurred (because they did not discover it sooner). (The consumers in this story had their reimbursement claims denied following three levels of chain of command, then were finally reimbursed only after their story made the news. Fidelity also sent consumers notices about the incident. Having the camera on the company is what it took.)

However, generally, consumers still have very limited protections when it comes to the security of their retirement accounts, and being able to recover stolen funds if they delay in reporting it. Therefore, if you have a retirement or investment account, monitor it closely and regularly. Stock markets do have ups and downs – but if something seems off or not right, look into it as soon as possible, and report it to the institution. It’s better to report something and have it turn out to be nothing, than to be a victim of fraud and lose out big time because you did not act quickly enough. And do check the terms of service with the company you hold your account(s) with.

Of course, having retirement accounts is very important, and I am in no way discouraging having one. Interest paid on regular checking and savings accounts is usually pitiful, and investment accounts can often offer much better returns. However, it’s still on the consumer to monitor their account, and immediately jump on any case of suspected fraud – doing this is your best safeguard against the growing threat of retirement account fraud and theft.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to your thriving and prospering, and better caring for those you love.