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Security codes

Protect your account with a unique code.

Help prevent criminal access to your account with security codes

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What are security codes and how do they work?

In addition to logging on with your user name and password, using a security code provides an extra layer of protection. A security code is a unique, single-use, 6-digit number you receive by text or automated phone call that you'll enter when you log on to your Vanguard account from a device we don't recognize as one you regularly use. You also have the option to receive a security code each time you log on to your account.

You should receive a code within seconds of entering your user name and password. Once you enter the code, you'll be securely connected to your account. They're free from Vanguard, but carrier fees may apply.

Because this process requires another step (in addition to your user name and password) to authenticate you (i.e., inputting the security code when you log on), it's referred to as "2-step verification."

Who can enroll in the security code service?

If you're a Vanguard personal investor or a plan sponsor, or you have an account in a Vanguard employer-sponsored retirement plan, you can enroll in this service. If you're an institutional investor or a financial professional, security codes may not be part of the logon process. Please log on to your account and review your security options under Account maintenance, or call us at 888-353-0547.

When will I receive a security code?

You'll receive a security code if you log on to your account from a device we don't recognize as one you regularly use. You also have the option to receive a security code every time you log on, if you choose.

Is there a time limit?

Each unique, one-time use security code will expire after 10 minutes. Each code will also expire after you use it to access or our mobile applications, if your web session is terminated, or if you generate a new security code. If the security code has expired, you can choose to generate a new code to the phone number on file for this service, or to a verified secondary number on file for this service, if you've chosen to provide one, by clicking the "Send a new code" link on the security code entry page during logon or security code validation.

When you click "Send a new code," you may elect to receive the security code to the primary or secondary (if any) phone number on file for the service, by automated text message (if the selected phone number is text-enabled) or by automated voice call (U.S. phone numbers only). That election will apply only to the new code then being requested and will not change your preference or automatically result in your receiving future security codes to the secondary phone number (if any).

How do I sign up for security codes?

You may sign up for the service at any time by clicking on the link below, or navigating to the Security profile section of Account maintenance, or the My Profile section if you're accessing the Retirement Plans area of the site. The instructions will ask you to provide your phone number-(s). After you do so, Vanguard will send a validation code by the method you choose (text or automated call) to the phone number you provide as your default number. You will then need to enter that validation code to activate your enrollment.

Is a security code the same thing as a password?

No, a security code doesn't replace your password. You'll enter your user name and password first and then the security code.

Why can't you email security codes to me?

We believe that text messages and phone calls provide greater security for our clients. Email providers can be compromised on a large scale, and email phishing attempts are prevalent.

Will security codes work with financial aggregation services?

Yes, if you're using an aggregation service to help manage your financial accounts, there shouldn't be a problem using security codes.

If you have questions about your specific aggregation service, call us at 888-353-0547 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern time.

Do security codes work with international phone numbers?

Yes, our codes will work with international phone numbers. However, if you're enrolled and travel outside the U.S., the mobile carrier may or may not deliver the security code to you depending on your roaming restrictions and the carrier's ability to detect your location.

What do I do if I'm not getting my security code texts?

There are several possible explanations for why a security code might not arrive. One of the most common is that your phone blocks calls or texts from unknown numbers. In this case, you'll need to change your phone settings and then choose I don't have a code. We'll send you another security code.

It's also possible, although unusual, that your carrier may not deliver a code as the result of a network issue. If this happens, please call us at 888-353-0547.

Can I still get codes on my phone if I don't receive text messages?

If you have a U.S. phone number, you can get automated phone calls that read the security code to you instead of receiving the code in a text message. To change your preference, log on to your account and update your security code settings.

You may change your contact method preference at any time by clicking the link below, or by visiting the Security code section of the Account Maintenance area or the My Profile section if you're accessing the Retirement Plans area of the site.

How do I update my phone number and security code settings?

If you change carriers but keep your same phone number, no change is required to your security code service. Your security codes will automatically be re-routed to your phone number through your new carrier. If you update your phone number, you must also update your Vanguard security code settings in the security code section of the Account maintenance area, or the My Profile section if you're accessing the Retirement Plans area of the site. Vanguard will send a validation code to the updated phone number you provide using the contact method you select. You will then need to enter that validation code in order to update the service.

What's the difference between a security code and a security key?

A security code is a unique number transmitted to your phone, while a security key is a physical USB device that connects to your computer. Both security codes and security keys help protect your account. So when you obtain a security key, you'll also sign up for security codes so that you can still access your account if you don't have your key with you.


Monitoring for fraudulent activity

Vanguard has systems to help spot possible criminal activities. Contact us immediately at 877-223-6977 if you believe your account has been compromised.

Our online fraud policy
Our commitment regarding online security is simple. If assets are taken from your account in an unauthorized online transaction on—and you've followed the steps described in the "Your responsibilities" section of our online fraud policy—we'll reimburse the assets taken from your account in the unauthorized transaction.

When you call us

When you call Vanguard, we'll take steps to ensure we've verified your identity before discussing personal and financial information. We'll ask you to verify personal information, which may include your security questions you selected as part of the web registration process. You may also request that we ask you for an enhanced password of your choice over the phone every time you call for extra verification. You can also verify your identity using the sound of your voice when you sign up for Vanguard Voice Verification™.

Sign up for security codes

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Personal Investors

Employer-plan participants