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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

SEC Urges Investors to Protect Their Online Brokerage Accounts from Identity Thieves


Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2005 - The Securities and Exchange Commission today issued an investor guide designed to inform Americans about steps they can take to protect their online brokerage accounts from unauthorized activity by intruders.

Regulators believe that some identity thieves are targeting online brokerage accounts for intrusion. Over the past few months, the SEC has become aware of numerous situations in which unauthorized individuals have gained access to other people's online brokerage accounts. Some of these fraudsters have stolen money from investors by transferring funds from the online brokerage accounts to outside accounts.

Many identity thieves use malicious software programs to attack vulnerable computers of online users. These software programs can monitor computer activity and send information back to the thief's computer. Sometimes, these programs will keep track of key strokes, which then allows identity thieves to easily obtain username and password information.

"We are concerned that many investors aren't taking appropriate precautions when accessing their online brokerage accounts," said SEC Investor Education Director Susan F. Wyderko. "In our guide, we offer tips on how online investors can protect their personal information from intruders."

Installing a personal firewall and security software package, using a security token, and ignoring emails requesting confidential or sensitive information are among the ways investors can protect themselves from identity thieves.

The SEC's investor guide is available at www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/onlinebrokerage.htm.


Modified: 11/3/2005