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National Fraud Awareness Week: Can You Spot the Fraud Warning Signs?

National Fraud Awareness Week: Can You Spot the Fraud Warning Signs?

According to data from the FTC, consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022. The highest reported loss amount came from investment scams and imposter scams. National Fraud Awareness Week, taking place from November 12th through 18th, is an annual event meant to promote anti-fraud awareness and education in hopes of minimizing the impact of fraud. This week serves as a reminder that fraud can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. Awareness is the first line of defense against fraud, and we are here to help you sharpen your fraud detection skills. Look out for the following fraud warning signs to protect yourself and your finances.

Unexpected Requests & Suspicious Contacts

One of the most prominent fraud warning signs is receiving unsolicited requests for your personal information. These requests can come through emails, phone calls, text messages, and more. The fraudsters will ask for sensitive personal data such as your Social Security number, credit card details, or passwords while posing as trusted individuals or organizations. They frequently use fake names, profiles, or email addresses to deceive fraud victims. Be wary of these requests and be sure to verify the legitimacy of any suspicious or unverified contacts before sharing your information with them or completing any financial transactions. 

Payment in Unusual Forms

Is someone asking you for an unusual form of payment? These odd methods are more difficult to trace, and therefore a fraudster favorite:

  • Gift cards
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Wire transfers

Always verify the legitimacy of requests for financial transactions, especially from unknown and unverified sources. 

Too Good to Be True Offers 

Messages promising extraordinary financial gains, immense discounts, or exclusive limited-time opportunities should be handled with caution. If you think an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudsters will try to lure you with these rewards, so carefully evaluate the offer before taking their bait. Remember, legitimate opportunities typically take time and effort before experiencing benefits and rarely promise instant and effortless wealth. 

Urgent or High-Pressure Tactics

Urgent and high-pressure tactics are a common way fraudsters manipulate their victims. Limited time offers, immediate financial decisions, and threatening messages are all fraud warning signs. It is important to be cautious when someone tries to push you to make quick and financially significant choices without allowing time for proper consideration. If the source is legitimate, they will likely provide time to evaluate your options and make a decision best for you. 

Unusual Account Activity

A crucial part of detecting fraud is closely monitoring your financial accounts. Keep an eye out for any unusual or unauthorized transactions on your bank and credit card statements. If you spot unfamiliar account activity, promptly report the incident to your financial institution as it could be a clear indication of fraudulent activity. 

Another piece of unusual activity to look out for is any notifications of unexpected changes to your account information such as your passwords, email addresses, or contact details. Fraudsters may attempt to take control of your accounts by altering this information, so it is important to investigate promptly. Confirm any changes with the respective organization through a verified contact method when investigating.

Poorly Designed or Unprofessional Communications

Generally speaking, fraudsters are not investing in the aesthetics of their communications. If you receive a poorly designed or unprofessional email, document, or website, proceed with caution as it can be a fraud warning sign. Look out for mistakes in spelling and grammar, too. Legitimate organizations will typically maintain a professional, polished, and proofread online presence, so evaluate the quality of the materials you receive to help determine their legitimacy.

Remember, awareness is the key to fraud prevention, and it is a collective effort to educate. If you still have questions about spotting fraud warning signs, contact Blakely Financial today. We are happy to help you protect your finances. 

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. 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.
Commonwealth Financial Network® or Blakely Financial does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation.

Preventing Fraud: Common Scams & How to Avoid Them

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.

Phishing

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

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.