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OF PROFESSIONAL AND FINANCIAL REGULATION
Augusta, Maine: Maine Securities Administrator Michael J. Colleran today issued a warning to citizens with online brokerage accounts to beware of a new and growing form of securities fraud where intruders steal account information from customers’ own computers and then use that information to quickly drain the accounts.
Regulators are now examining schemes in which identity thieves target online brokerage accounts by hacking into personal computers that lack antivirus or other protective software. These “stock hackers” use malicious software programs to extract information about the accounts, such as user names and passwords, and then transfer customer money to outside accounts.
“It is important for all investors with online brokerage accounts to take the steps necessary to insulate their personal computers from this kind of criminal attack on their identity, their privacy, and their assets,” Colleran said.
Colleran urged Maine citizens who have such online accounts to take appropriate precautions, such as by installing a personal firewall and security software package, using a security token, and keeping antivirus protections up to date. He also stated that investors should check with their online brokerage firms to find out what protections they are currently offering their customers. Colleran also warned citizens generally to ignore emails requesting confidential or sensitive information, pointing to the now-common scam in which fraudsters dress up such emails by using actual bank logos to make the requests look more legitimate.
Colleran asked that Maine citizens call 1-877-624-8551 if they have been the target of “stock hackers” or other investment fraud.
The Maine Office of Securities is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Office through its Web site at www.MaineSecuritiesReg.org, by calling its toll-free number, 1-877-624-8551, or by writing the Maine Office of Securities, 121 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.