In my business, I work with personal information. I work very hard to ensure that the information entrusted to me stays as secure as possible. (It’s  top priority.) As part of survivorship planning, you may work with banks and financial institutions to change beneficiaries and ownership for some of your accounts. This may require that they mail signature cards or forms to the rightful parties to make that happen. What happens when they mail the forms with all of your highly personal information and the letter never gets to the right person? Now, your full identity, and possibly the recipient,  have  been compromised if it falls into the wrong hands.

This happened to me this week. A bank in San Antonio mailed a signature form to me by regular mail to change the authorization to my aunt’s checking account. They called me in February to verify my address. I still had not received the “signature cards” in March. My aunt finally went down there and had them make up some new ones and my aunt sent them to me certified mail. To my surprise, when I received them, I was shocked! These were not just signature cards, they were full new account forms. Every piece of information needed for identity theft had been on the form and it had all the information on there for 3 people! I was astounded that such information was “casually” sent through the mail in hopes that it would get here. Over the past few years, I have seen more mistakes with the mail than I care to document, and banks are using it on a regular basis as a vehicle for your highly protected information. I called the bank and started running my concern up the chain of command only to be told that my aunt’s account was very compromised and she needed to open a new one and that they did this all the time and only NOW did they understand “concern over security of your information.” I told them to read their fraud statement on their own website and tell me how it is only now they are concerned about it. How frustrating is that? So a word to the wise.

If you are working with a bank or financial institution on such matters, make sure they do not send any vital information through the mail system. There are more secure ways to transfer that information. Offer to pay for it. You will be way ahead in keeping your information secure. Customer beware!