Fraud and Security Considerations for Professional Athletes

Basketball player checking his phone

In 2018, the total value of digital purchases and payments worldwide exceeded $3.5 trillion and is projected to top $4 trillion for 2019.1 With that much money moving electronically, it’s no surprise that cybercrime statistics have been on a similar rising trajectory—the overall global cost of cybercrime has risen to more than $600 billion.2

Technology has afforded us some tremendous efficiencies and simplified our lives, but it’s also opened a new door to potential fraud.

As a professional athlete, time is one of your most precious commodities. From training and playing to personal appearances and charity work, the demands on you can often seem overwhelming. As a result, the desire to offload as much of your day-to-day business dealings as possible is understandable. However, don’t make the common mistake of giving others—whether friends, family, business managers, accountants or attorneys—control over your accounts. There’s a reason why usernames, passwords and other login credentials are personal and private; keep them that way.

“Most importantly, make sure you also take advantage of your respective league’s security capabilities,” advises SunTrust Sports & Entertainment Specialty Group advisor Todd LaRocca. “MLB has an incredible resource that you can contact regarding any potential breach of security issues, from a family member in danger to a financial crime being perpetrated against you. Their people are extremely adept and responsive and will stay on top of many security issues.” Other professional leagues provide similar services.

Take smart precautions

There are a number of preventive measures you can undertake to help reduce the potential for hackers to access your data. The following are a few precautionary steps that all investors (especially high-profile athletes and entertainers) should undertake:

  • Only download trusted software and apps from trusted sites. Even trusted app download sites can’t police every app available, and software download sites will also sometimes harbor malware. Remember that anytime you use an installer, you’re putting your digital safety into someone else’s hands. So, if possible, try to only download from original vendors.
  • Use strong usernames and passwords. We all know that “123456” and “password” are about as far from secure as you can get, yet year in and year out those two remain the most commonly used passwords. If you don’t want the hassle of managing multiple usernames and passwords, consider a password manager app. For a small fee (typically around $3/month) many apps can create and manage strong passwords for all your accounts.
  • Lock down social media privacy settings. Although social media is a vital tool in building your brand as a professional athlete, it’s all too easy to mistakenly over-share personal information in an effort to better connect with fans. Not only should you think carefully about what you share, make sure you review your privacy settings since the default setting for many platforms are too permissive.
  • Periodically monitor your financial accounts and credit reports. It’s absolutely your best defense against being victimized by fraud and/or identity theft. Being vigilant with regular monitoring can help detect any suspicious activity before small issues become massive headaches.
  • Tape over built-in computer webcams. While it might seem like paranoia, it’s not. Gaining remote access to your webcam isn’t as challenging as you think. Whether someone’s intent is to steal information, blackmail you, or stalk you, don’t make it easy for them.

Think your identity has been compromised?

If you believe you might be the victim of online fraud or identity theft, change all your online passwords right away. Notify us at SunTrust (along with any other credit card companies and financial institutions you work with) and ask for heightened account security protections to be put in place. At the same time, contact one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies and notify them of your concern:

The credit agency will implement an immediate fraud alert and share that information with the other two agencies, ensuring that any request for credit in your name over the next three months must be voice verified. The fraud alert also entitles you to receive a free credit report upon request. Review the report closely for unauthorized activity and notify the police if any fraud has taken place. Lastly, keep monitoring your credit report, bank and credit card statements after the 90-day fraud alert period to ensure no other unauthorized activity takes place.

Because we all live so much of our lives online these days, we can never ensure total safety and security. Implementing just a few preventative measures and staying vigilant, however, can go a long way towards preventing others from gaining access to your private information and accounts. 

Help protect yourself from fraud

Contact your SunTrust Private Wealth advisor or reach out to the SunTrust Sports & Entertainment Group to learn more about protecting your information. 

1 Statista, May 2019

2 “Economic Impact of Cybercrime” Report, February 2018, McAfee

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.