Private Risk Management:Is Your Online Profile Making You a Target for Criminals?
Understanding the Issue – Is Your Online Profile Making You a Target for Criminals?
The private lives and professional reputations of wealthy individuals and their families are in the spotlight today more than ever. By staying highly connected online, wealthy people can keep in touch with close friends and family anywhere in the world, plus bolster their personal brand and become effective influencers.
As an example, when it comes to philanthropic activities, sharing photos online to promote a fundraising event or making a post asking for donations has come to be standard in today’s world. The reach of social media makes it much easier to raise millions of dollars for worthy causes.
Or when it comes to business, wealthy people can gain an online following by promoting their company’s brand or products. In their personal lives, their families can share photos of their luxury travels or newly acquired assets, like a yacht or private jet, to their online connections.
Know this—as you share more and more personal details online, you curate more than an online presence—you become an easy target for crimes. This is why it’s critical for you to evaluate your publicly facing profiles.
With your reputation and fortune at stake, make sure you understand:
- RISKS – the risks in having a public-facing online profile
- CONSEQUENCES – the importance of regularly evaluating your profiles
- STEPS – the steps you should take to assess your online presence
RISKS: Don’t Be a Bullseye for Criminals
The risks involved in having a public-facing online profile multiply the more you post, which can lead to cyberattacks, theft, or even kidnapping.
The cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $8 trillion in 2023 and grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. Today, hackers commit more fraud than in the past and the types of fraud they perpetrate are increasingly sophisticated. In 2021, the FBI reports a record number of complaints filed by victims of Internet crime, such as identity theft, extortion, and fraud.
Wealthy individuals and families naturally attract criminals because of their public visibility and reputations — they are easy prey. Donors whose names and financial contributions are noted in local publications are a boon for criminals. Though making charitable donations comes with the added benefit of tax breaks, you need to be aware of how publicizing this information creates a multitude of risks, especially when criminals know your personal information and the largesse in question.
For anyone who regularly posts online, it’s easy for criminals to piece together where a person lives or spends leisure time. Since any information you post online typically exists forever, it does not matter if you delete your posts. Once criminals compile your information over time, they can use it to plan a robbery or even a kidnapping.
CONSEQUENCES: Importance of Evaluating Your Online Presence
It is easy for criminals to gather information online about wealthy individuals and their family members because online posts last forever. It’s important to regularly evaluate your and your family’s public-facing profiles and the privacy protocols you create to keep everyone safe. Without taking time to evaluate the information the public can see, hackers can manipulate data, embarrass you and your family’s reputation, and steal your money. The value of personal data posted online should be considered equal, if not more, to the price of personal fortunes.
Often, people forget the amount of control they possess over how often and what type of personal or professional information they share online. You need to create a balance between maintaining professional credibility and protecting your privacy against criminals. A trusted insurance advisor can help you understand your unique risks and implement a risk management program to help protect you, your family, and your assets.
You can help protect your and your family’s reputations, assets, and safety by evaluating the type and frequency of information you post online.
STEPS: How to Evaluate Your Online Presence
Begin evaluating your online presence by establishing and reinforcing your and your family’s overall communication and social media strategy. Each time you set up an online profile, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the motivation or intention for setting up this profile?
- How will this profile be used — personally or professionally?
- What example am I setting for others within my family?
- Who will have access to the login information, including the password?
- How much thought have I given to creating a strong password?
- Where will I store passwords, and how often will I update them?
- Will I use a multi-step process to log in, such as multi-factor authentication?
- Which (if any) family members, colleagues, or domestic employees will have login access for online profiles?
- How often will I or others post, and what will be the content of the posts?
- At what point will a family member experience deletion of his or her account?
- If you or your family members work remotely at home, what are the rules of the employer regarding social media use during working hours?
Review privacy settings regularly and hold family meetings to identify where security gaps may lie. It’s important to practice good cyber hygiene and understand how one family member’s posts can influence the rest of the family.
 Cybercrime Magazine, “Top 10 CyberSecurity Predictions and Statistics for 2023”, December 10, 2022.
 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Report 2021.
Strategies to Manage the Issue – Your Public Profile is like a Fishbowl
Years ago, people did not have to think about reputation management outside of tabloid fodder. Nowadays, posting information online or reading about the private lives of anybody in the media is as common as daily teeth brushing. That’s why wealthy people are experiencing an unprecedented—and unwanted—amount of visibility.
Protecting your public reputation is now a higher priority than ever. While you can’t control what other people do or say, you can understand how others promote or reveal your name to the outside world, such as:
- Family members or domestic staff post information online about how and where you live.
- The value of your charitable donations appear as headline news in the local paper.
- Your spouse posts a bad restaurant review online and notes the place is a few blocks from your family’s home.
- Your recent purchase of a multi-million-dollar home appears in print with your name and in a society page column focused on local real estate.
Criminals can use this type of information to piece together details and locate their victims. The more researchable you and your family are, the easier it is to find you, steal from you, or harm you and your family members.
Who’s On Your Team?
Having the right team of personal advisors to help protect your family and name is not just ideal, it’s a necessity in today’s world. They’ll know your risks, be familiar with your reputation, and work with you to ensure proper risk management strategies are in place. Your team should contain your centers of influence, including:
- Insurance advisor
- Estate planning attorney
- Trust or banking manager
They are your first line of defense for how to navigate the complexities involved with reputation management and each brings a skill set that complements one another, such as reviewing your risks of having a public-facing profile, discussing how to monitor your online reputation, and identifying your comfort level with your public persona.
Expect them to discern and explain how to find the balance between what can be done to shield family identities while offering minor public visibility to uphold your reputation’s value.
Risks to Your Reputation
It’s important to know how your name appears in the public eye, both personally and professionally. A solid team, made up of key professionals can help you build a holistic strategy to manage your reputation.
PERSONALLY: As a wealthy individual or family, you have more risks involving your public profile and lot to lose should a criminal take advantage of the information you put out there.
For example, let’s look at charitable giving. Overall, charities in the US received $480+ billion in 2021. Because wealthy people often donate the largest amounts, they need to be vigilant when letting their name, residence, and largesse appear on a donor list.
Tip: To help protect yourself and your assets from a cybercrime, your insurance advisor can put cyber policies in place that meet your unique needs.
PROFESSIONALLY: Sometimes, reputation management involves not just protecting yourself but also your company.
For example, if the values or mission of your company don’t match the political preferences of a charity on your list of benefactors, a donation could instigate a public company persona you don’t want – prompting buyers to withdraw orders or suppliers to cut ties.
MANAGE YOUR REPUTATION ONLINE
First, if you think not having an online presence eliminates your risk, this is an inaccurate assumption. As an example, the community or regional influencers want to know they’re doing business with reputable citizens, and they’ll look for information about you online.
PUT YOUR TEAM IN PLACE
Align yourself with advisors who run parallel to your values and role within the community. You are partnering with their successes, failures, and reputations, which can influence your own reputation. Your team should have extensive knowledge within their area of expertise and be diligent in the questions they’re asking, such as:
- How are all your assets currently titled?
- Are any of your assets in a type of trust?
- How much information do you or others disclose publicly from charitable donations?
- What information about you and your family are you comfortable with published in the public domain, on the Web, or elsewhere?
- Who has social media profiles within the family, the passwords to each profile, and the platforms they use?
- What types of insurance policies do you have in place to protect you from cyber risks?
MEET WITH YOUR PERSONAL ADVISORS REGULARLY TO:
- Learning what details exist about you on the regular and dark web
- Finding out what new details pop up that need to be removed
- Identifying what new technology tools are available to alert you when your information has been compromised
- Communicating to your team if your level of comfortability about what appears online changes
IDENTIFY YOUR LEVEL OF COMFORTABILITY
Some people are comfortable promoting themselves to the world, while others desire a lot of privacy. For example, some families don’t care about the amount of social media usage by other family members. However, liability risks increase, especially if minors are involved, and parents would be held liable for their actions. You must maintain your own convictions about what works for your family and share them with your team. This way, you’ll understand the risks involved legally and financially.
To thrive in today’s complex world, you need your personal advisors to work in tandem to help protect your reputation, and therefore, yourself, your assets, and your family.
 National Philanthropic Trust, “Giving USA Annual Report 2021” in Charitable Giving Statistics, 2021.
Determining a Path Forward – Contact Us.
Working with an insurance advisor can help you identify where your family’s vulnerabilities exist and craft strategies to protect against an unintended loss. Contact our team of private risk management experts to learn how we can work together to help protect your now and your future.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. BRP Group, Inc. and its affiliates, do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal or accounting professionals before engaging in any transaction.