Your retirement savings account needs a regular care routine, too

You take good care of your car by keeping it protected and well maintained. Your retirement account requires the same type of attention—so you can keep it secure from theft and in good working order. Following a regular protection and maintenance plan—beyond the measures your financial provider has in place—can help ensure your retirement plan, like your car, is ready to go when you need it.

Anti-theft safeguards: Help protect your retirement account with added security

There are basic things you do to keep your car safe, such as locking the doors when it’s parked and having an anti-theft system to make it harder to steal. You can even install a tracking system to make your car easier to find, if it’s stolen. But did you know that your retirement plan savings can be stolen, too? Incidents of cyberattacks have seen a sharp increase related to COVID-19,1 and account takeover scams are only expected to increase.2

Taking steps to help protect your retirement plan is easy—and smart. Start by registering your account online, as soon as possible, to lower the risk of your account being taken over by someone posing as you. Be sure to provide your email address and mobile phone number, and sign up for account alerts, so your retirement plan provider can notify you of suspicious activity immediately.

When you register your account, make it as hard as possible for others to get in:

  • Choose a strong, complex password, and don’t select “remember password” when prompted. 
  • Include your personal email address and mobile number for additional layers of security.
  • Type the web address into your browser, rather than clicking on a link from an email or a search engine, and confirm that the URL begins with “https” (the “s” means it’s secure).

Long-term upkeep: choosing your beneficiaries

When your car needs service, you put it in the hands of someone you can count on. With your retirement plan, you also want to be sure that your hard-earned savings will end up in the right hands—by naming your beneficiaries in the event that something happens to you. If you don’t name a beneficiary, your estate becomes the beneficiary and your money could be distributed contrary to your wishes. And beneficiaries need to be updated, too—especially when you’ve had a family event such as a marriage (or divorce) or the addition of a new child. 

Choosing your beneficiaries is simple and can save your loved ones from a costly legal battle in an already difficult time:

  • You can name one or more primary beneficiaries and have the assets equally split among them or assign a specific percentage of the account to each person. List each beneficiary separately (and accurately) and include the percentage of assets that would go to each person. If you want to leave the assets in your retirement plan to someone other than your spouse, your spouse will likely need to sign a spousal consent form.
  • You can also name one or more contingent beneficiaries who'd receive your assets if all of the primary beneficiaries are no longer living. For example, you might name your spouse as the primary beneficiary of 100% of the account balance and your three children as contingent beneficiaries who’d each receive a third of the cash if your spouse passes away before you. 

When you enroll in your retirement plan, you’ll be asked to name your beneficiaries. If you’ve been automatically enrolled in your employer’s plan and missed this step, just log on to your account and select your beneficiaries. If your plan requests that you provide beneficiary information using a paper form, be sure to confirm that your plan provider receives your form and keep a copy for yourself in a safe place. 

Regular inspections: ongoing retirement planning

In most states, you need to have your car inspected regularly to be sure it’s operating properly. That same concept can apply to your retirement account. Why not inspect your statements and transaction details as soon as you receive them? That way, if you notice anything unusual, you can contact your plan administrator right away.

Keeping all of your account information updated is also important, so your plan provider can stay in touch. Use the annual benefits enrollment season as a reminder to confirm your account information. Verify that your address, email address, and mobile phone number are all updated to stay connected and informed. 

Nonstop effort: helping your retirement account stay safe

A little extra care and attention can go a long way in keeping your retirement account—and your car—running smoothly. Take the time to register your account, choose your beneficiaries, and keep your information updated. It can give you the tools you need to help protect your hard-earned retirement savings, so they’re ready when you need them.

1 “Cybercrime: COVID-19 Impact,” INTERPOL, August 2020. 2 “2020 Identity Fraud Study: Genesis of the Identity Fraud Crisis,” javelinstrategy.com, April 2020. 

The content of this document is for general information only and is believed to be accurate and reliable as of the posting date, but may be subject to change. It is not intended to provide investment, tax, plan design, or legal advice (unless otherwise indicated). Please consult your own independent advisor as to any investment, tax, or legal statements made herein.

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