For Direct Plan account owners, two-factor authentication process is now mandatory to access your 529 plan online. This practice protects valuable college savings account information from phishing attacks and identity theft and is standard for most financial institutions.

Many financial institutions, including the Social Security Administration, have already adopted two-factor authentication process, which enhances the security of online access to monetary accounts. Log in passwords only (one-factor authentication) are no longer considered strong enough protection to withstand a security breech. The two-factor authentication process protects valuable account information by allowing financial institutions to double-check their online account users’ identities. 

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

So what exactly is two-factor authentication? It is a multi-level identification process that allows a customer access to information only after they prove their identity in these two categories: Knowledge (something they know), and possession (something they have).

Most people already use two-factor authentication. When withdrawing money from an ATM, customer must first have the card (possession – something the customer has) and then the customer must enter the PIN (knowledge – something the customer knows). Most financial service providers already require two-factor authentication when accessing your accounts from a new desktop or other secure device.

How To Get Started

A CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 account owner will to take two steps to verify their identity. The first step will be to log in as normal with the account number and password from a private computer or other secure device. This first step would be possession – something they have. The second step will occur when they enter the PIN. This second step is knowledge – something the account owner alone would know.

The account owner will then select how to receive the PIN (Personal Identification Number) – either by text, by phone, or by calling CollegeAdvantage’s Customer Service Department themselves. Upon receipt of the PIN, you will have five minutes to enter the code. Once the PIN has been entered from your computer or other secure device, there’s an option to mark the device as trusted. In order to keep the account secure, this process will be repeated during the life of the account. Again, this is an extra layer of security to protect your college savings.

Beginning the week of August 27, the two-factor authentication process will be permanently required for all account owners.

Have more questions? Find answers on this Two-Factor FAQ page or call our Customer Service Department from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday-Friday at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734). Additionally, when an account owner logs into their Direct 529 Plan account, there is a video for you to watch, describing the steps involved with the two-factor authentication.

CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

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