6 Simple Ways To Protect Yourself from Financial Crime

An example of  an recent email exchange, not edited for its grammatical and spelling errors, as it highlights the elevated emotions a client of ours had when he realized he had just fallen victim to a fraud.

Subject:  All our accounts were hacked Bank America Wells Fargo so far

Hi

Ed thought he was talking to Amazon to change a password. It wasn't Amazon and he gave last 4 digits of SS a few min ago. He realized it and checked both accounts and it took no time. He has alerted both banks.

Please assist us with all our accounts with you. We are needing your help ensure our Accounts with you are put on watch. Any more help? We are frantic.

Whew we are frantic.

Simple Rules to Follow

The golden rule of protecting yourself financially and digitally is this:

Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.  

As scammers have become savvier and more sophisticated over time, and often prey on our emotions, this is easier said than done.

Protecting yourself includes being aware of the latest trends in frauds and scams.

The IRS will never call you nor demand on-the-spot payment or threaten you with arrest.

The IRS always opens a case by sending a letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, never with a call. Some scammers even have the word IRS on your call display, but do not be misled and do not give out any personal information.

What you should do:

To verify, always tell the caller that you will call back. Then, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040, not the number that the call came from.

Medicare will automatically mail you a new card and transfer your coverage to the new identifying number; they will not call you.

As of April 2018, new Medicare cards are being issued without Social Security numbers for your protection. All Medicare recipients will automatically receive a new card before April of 2019. When you receive yours, cut up your old card. You do not need to apply for nor pay for a new card - they are free - and there is no expedited service - they will be shipped automatically on a nationwide schedule. Your coverage will be transferred to the new identifying number automatically.

What you should do:

Scammers may pose as a Medicare representative to get you to give them your personal information. To verify, hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE.

No legitimate computer company will call you or email you and tell you that you have a virus.

If you receive an email or pop-up browser window to verify or update your personal information, even if it seems legitimate, it is likely a scam called phishing. Phishing is a fraudulent practice of sending emails claiming to be from well-known companies in order to prompt you to reveal personal information. Sometimes this internet fraud will install a virus enabling scammers to view your personal information or simulate an anti-virus program at a cost.

What you should do:

Do not download, update or provide any information.

Be aware of the "grandparent scam"

Scammers will call and say, "Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?" Any loving and unsuspecting grandparent may furnish the name of a grandchild. The scammer may then ask for money while begging you not to tell his/her parents.

Be aware of Telemarketing/Phone Scams.

Beware of fake accident ploys, a scammer asking for money under the pretext that a child or relative had an accident and needs the money. Beware of charity scams.

What you should do:

If you would like to make a donation, always ask the caller to send you information.

A Final Word on Scam Protection

While scams and fraud are rampant, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself from the major ones. Always remember the golden rule of protecting yourself financially and digitally.

It's important to always keep scam protection on the top of your mind. Please contact us for a free magnet that you can attach to your refrigerator with the important phone numbers highlighted above, along with others we have identified as being essential for you to have at your disposal.

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