Data Breaches: The Baggage That Comes With Our Digital World

Quote of the Week

 “Expectations are a setup for disappointment.” -Sandy Vilas, our business coach.

 Technical Corner

Stocks finished higher last week for a second week in a row.  News that the U.S. and China agreed to hold trade talks in Washington in October was the main catalyst for the rally.

Economic data was mixed as the manufacturing activity contracted, falling to a three year low, while non-manufacturing activity expanded and accelerated versus the pace of activity in July. August’s jobs report showed that hiring slowed, but to a level strong enough to hold the unemployment steady at a near 50-year low with solid wage growth.

The big test for the market will come in October when the corporate earnings will start to be reported. I anticipate that corporate earnings will be disappointing to the extent that the market could potentially experience a “black hole”. With so many investors owning stock ETFs such as the S&P 500 etc., which they think are safe, but if they start falling, they can sell with the click of a mouse, plus the potential of the trading algorithms in a downward market kicking in, we could be in for a volatile ride.

September to remember? Over the past 30 years, September has had the third worst average monthly return behind August and June. September is also, on average, the second most volatile month of the year.

I think this September will live up to its reputation in terms of volatility given the delicate and fluid trade situation between the U.S. and China, along with the upcoming Fed rate meeting, where consensus expectations have set a high bar for lower rates.

Tom’s Thoughts

Data Breach de Jour

What will be the next data breach that on the newspaper front pages?  Who knows. Following is an article that will help you deal with it.  Enjoy!!

Data Breaches: Tips for Protecting Your Identity and Your Money

Large-scale data breaches are in the news again, but that’s hardly surprising. Breaches have become more frequent — a byproduct of living in an increasingly digital world. During the first six months of 2019, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit organization whose mission includes broadening public awareness of data breaches and identity theft, had already tracked 713 data breaches, with more than 39 million records exposed.1 Once a breach has occurred, the “aftershocks” can last for years as cyberthieves exploit stolen information. Here are some ways to help protect yourself.

Get the facts

Most states have enacted legislation requiring notification of data breaches involving personal information. However, requirements vary. If you are notified that your personal information has been compromised as the result of a data breach, read through the notification carefully. Make sure you understand what information was exposed or stolen. Basic information like your name or address being exposed is troubling enough, but extremely sensitive data such as financial account numbers and Social Security numbers is significantly more concerning. Also, understand what the company is doing to deal with the issue and how you can take advantage of any assistance being offered (for example, free credit monitoring).

Even if you don’t receive a notification that your data has been compromised, take precautions.

Be vigilant

Although you can’t stop wide-scale data breaches, you can take steps to protect yourself. If there’s even a chance that some of your personal information may have been exposed, make these precautions a priority.

  • Change and strengthen passwords. Create strong passwords, at least 8 characters long, using a combination of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols, and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Consider using two-step authentication when available. Two-step authentication, which may involve using a text or email code in addition to your password, provides an extra layer of protection.
  • Monitor your accounts. Notify your financial institution immediately if you see any suspicious activity. Early notification not only can stop a potential thief but may help limit any financial liability.
  • Check your credit reports periodically. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies every 12 months. You can get additional information and request your credit reports at
  • Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. It’s not uncommon for a company that has suffered a data breach to provide free access to a credit monitoring service. As the name implies, this service tracks your credit files and alerts you to changes in activity, such as new accounts being opened or an address change.
  • Minimize information sharing. Beware of any requests for information, whether received in an email, a letter, or a phone call. Criminals may try to leverage stolen information to trick you into providing even more valuable data. Never provide your Social Security number without being absolutely certain who you are dealing with and why the information is needed.

Fraud alerts and credit freezes

If you suspect that you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud, consider a fraud alert or credit freeze.

A fraud alert requires creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending any existing credit or issuing new credit in your name. To request a fraud alert, you have to contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Once you have placed a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the bureaus, your fraud alert request will be passed along to the two remaining bureaus.

A credit freeze prevents new credit and accounts from being opened in your name. Once you obtain a credit freeze, creditors won’t be allowed to access your credit report and therefore cannot offer new credit. This helps prevent identity thieves from applying for credit or opening fraudulent accounts in your name.

To place a credit freeze on your credit report, you must contact each credit reporting bureau separately. Keep in mind that a credit freeze is permanent and stays on your credit report until you unfreeze it. If you want to apply for credit with a new financial institution in the future, open a new bank account, apply for a job, or rent an apartment, you’ll need to “unlock” or “thaw” the credit freeze with all three credit reporting bureaus. Each credit bureau has its own authentication process for unlocking the freeze.

Recovery plans

The Federal Trade Commission has an online tool that enables you to report identity theft and to actually generate a personal recovery plan. Once your personal recovery plan is prepared, you’ll be able to implement the plan using forms and letters that are created just for you. You’ll also be able to track your progress. For more information, visit

If you have friends or family in need of financial life planning services,

It would be the honor of Laurence Lof Financial Advisors to assist them.

We value your referrals!

These are Larry Lof’s opinions and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Due to our compliance review process, delayed dissemination of this commentary occurs.

The S&P 500 index of stocks compiled by Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. The Index includes a representative sample of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. Indices mentioned are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Technical analysis represents an observation of past performance and trend, and past performance and trend are no guarantee of future performance, price, or trend. The price movements within capital markets cannot be guaranteed and always remain uncertain. The allocation discussed herein is not designed based on the individual needs of any one specific client or investor. In other words, it is not a customized strategy designed on the specific financial circumstances of the client. Please consult an advisor to discuss your individual situation before making any investments decision. Investing in securities involves risk of loss. Further, depending on the different types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk including loss of original principal.

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Laurence Lof Financial Advisors, LLC are not affiliated. Laurence Lof Financial Advisors 4757 E Camp Lowell Drive Tucson AZ 85712

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