Fraud has become an increasingly common issue facing individuals of all ages, especially when it comes to their finances. In an attempt to curb fraud, we have compiled some common scams, as well as tactics to avoid them. Seniors and those without strong technology skills are more likely to fall victim to scams that come in the form of emails, texts, or phone calls. Knowing how to recognize fraud can prevent you from having your identity, money, or banking information stolen.
If you receive a text or email message asking you to click on a suspicious link, don’t do it! If you are unsure of the source of the message, directly contact the company the sender is claiming to represent. These texts and emails often make dramatic claims to grab your attention. For instance, many phishing emails will tell you that your payment information is incorrect, or that there has been a suspicious attempt to log into your account. To prevent these types of messages, make sure your phone and computer are updated with security software, and opt-in to multi-factor authentication on any important accounts you create.
If you believe a message is fraudulent, you can report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. This organization seeks to identify trends in cybercrime and prevent others from falling victim to fraud.
Confirm Your Financial Institutions
If you receive texts, calls, or emails requesting your banking information, contact the institution separately to confirm the validity of the message. Scammers will often pretend to be a representative of a bank or financial institution to get information such as your credit card number, social security number, or account password. These messages are meant to alarm you, and often claim your account has been placed on hold or is under some form of investigation.
Sometimes scammers will ask you to call a phone number so a “representative” can walk you through the process of restoring your account. In this case, it is always best to call the institution using a verified phone number from the company’s website. Even if a message or phone call seems very urgent- take a deep breath and don’t click any links or give out information before confirming it is safe to do so.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Examining your credit report regularly can help you spot fraud. Incorrect personal information, accounts you don’t recognize, or a sudden change in credit score could all be signs that your credit may have been compromised by a scammer. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies. Also, many credit card providers monitor your credit as part of your membership. Be sure to keep an eye on your credit to avoid any fraudulent accounts open in your name!
Wire fraud typically involves a phone call and is usually directed at seniors. One scam involves a caller pretending to be a grandchild in distress asking for an emergency wire transfer. Another involves a fake IRS agent threatening arrest if you don’t wire funds immediately. Any time you send money through a wire transfer, be sure to confirm the identity of the recipient and don’t be rushed by a sense of false urgency. To research the phone number calling you, enter the number into Google and see if others have reported it as fraud. It can also help to add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry, or to silence unknown callers, anyone with an important message will typically leave a voicemail.
Protect yourself from scams by keeping a close eye on your finances- working with a trusted financial advisor can provide you with a complete understanding of your accounts so you will not be as likely to fall victim to fraud.
Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.