If a hacker breaks into an investor's mutual fund account, the law says the account holder is on his own, but many brokerage companies are working to make online investing a less frightening proposition, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
"Customers have no recourse unless they can prove that the institution was negligent in the theft," said Matt Bienfang, a senior analyst with Tower Group, a financial services consulting firm in Needham, Mass.
T. Rowe Price, for example, only sends proceeds to the account holder's address of record. If a hacker were to sell-off an unsuspecting investor's account, the investor would get the check.
Both Charles Schwab of San Francisco, and ETrade, based in New York, actually offer a 100% security guarantee. If an investor loses money due to unauthorized activity, the brokerage houses will make the investor whole again; however, customers should read the fine print. Schwab warns, "If you share (your log-in or password) with anyone, we'll consider their activities to have been authorized by you."
But these companies do show mercy. Etrade, for example, once made whole a customer who had no security software on their computer.