Cetera latest to be hit with data breach of personal information

Company is offering clients complimentary, two-year membership to an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service

Jun 13, 2019 @ 2:28 pm

By Bruce Kelly and Ryan W. Neal

Cetera Financial Group is the latest in a growing number of financial advice firms to be hit with a data breach, putting information for about 2,000 clients at risk.

The firm confirmed the number of clients whose information was potentially compromised more than two months ago.

"On March 27, Cetera discovered that an unauthorized individual gained access to the email accounts of two Cetera employees, which contained some personal information," wrote company spokesperson Adriana Senior in an email to InvestmentNews. "Cetera takes these incidents very seriously, and took immediate action to secure the information and accurately assess the full impact, including an extensive data assessment process."

The firm did not provide any other information about the data breach.

A network of six broker-dealers that house close to 8,000 financial advisers and registered reps, Cetera is offering clients who might be affected a complimentary, two-year membership to an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service.

In an email from Cetera Financial Specialists to advisers, the company noted that "your clients' information continues to be of paramount importance to all of us at Cetera Financial Specialists."

"Although we have no evidence to suggest your clients' personal information has been misused, as a precaution we are notifying you and your clients about the incident," stated the email, which did not have a date on it.

It has become increasingly common for financial advice companies and firms across the financial services industry to fall prey to breakdowns in computer security that wind up revealing personal information about clients or advisers.

For example, in February Voya Financial Advisors Inc. told its brokers and financial advisers that a glitch on a biography webpage for its brokers put their Social Security numbers at risk of exposure.

BlackRock Inc. made headlines in January when it was revealed that the company accidentally exposed confidential information involving about 20,000 financial advisers.

And last month, InvestmentNews reported that Redtail Technology may have exposed personal client information that advisers store on Redtail's client relationship management software due to a data breach.

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