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January 15, 2019

Recognize and Prevent Fraud

We have seen an increase in the amount of Cybercrime and fraud threats in the last few years and suspect that trend will continue.  While Financial Coach plays an important role in helping protect your assets, you also can act to protect yourself and help secure your information. We’ve summarized below common cyber fraud tactics, along with tips and best practices. We also cover actions to take if you suspect that your personal information has been compromised.

Cyber criminals exploit our increasing reliance on technology. Methods used to compromise a victim’s identity or login credentials – such as malware, phishing, and social engineering – are increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot. A fraudster’s goal is to obtain information to access your accounts and assets or sell your information for this purpose. Fortunately, criminals often take the path of least resistance. Following best practices and applying caution when sharing information or executing transactions makes a big difference.

 

What it may look like

Recognizing an attempt at committing fraud may improve the ability to prevent its occurrence. The scenarios below are examples of a few methods used by criminals to fraudulently collect private information.

  • You receive a seemingly legitimate email from your bank regarding a recent data breach. It highly encourages that you check your account and even provides a link to a specified website dedicated to this incident.

Cyber criminals use these types of “phishing” attempts to lure victims to fake websites, which often even appear identical to those of legitimate companies, where they collect information from anyone who attempts to log in and check accounts.

  • A familiar and reputable company you often shop sends you a ‘limited special offer’ in the form of an email attachment, which appears to be nothing more than an advertisement when opened.

Schemes like this are used to trick victims into installing “malware”, which is software specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems. Creating a doorway into your computer, criminals are then able to collect personal information by accessing personal files, email, and web-browsing activities. Some may even spend days, months, or years monitoring activities for patterns before attempting to impersonate without raising flags.

  • The phone rings. Its ABC Insurance Company informing you of a payout from a loved one’s insurance policy. Not quite thinking it through, you provide banking information for payment to go directly into your account.

Unfortunately, there are heartless criminals who prey on the loved ones of the recently departed. Using newspapers, websites, and other sources, they piece together information from obituaries and other public records in hopes of catching the fragile in mourning off-guard.

 

What you can do to prevent it

Be suspicious and trust your gut!

Always second guess unsolicited or unexpected phone calls, text messages, email and even mail, especially when asked to send money or disclose personal information. Hang up the phone/Do not reply to the email/mail at even the slightest suspicion. If the caller/sender is someone you know, confirm the legitimacy of their request by contacting them at a familiar phone number, not an alternate number provided on caller ID or within a suspicious email.

Assume someone is always watching. 

Don’t open links or attachments from unknown sources. Never enter confidential information in public areas. Always visit websites by entering known web addresses into your browser, rather than visiting by clicking links contained within emails.

Beware of urgency and pressure. 

Urgent-sounding, legitimate-looking emails are intended to tempt you to accidentally disclose personal information or install malware. Callers who apply pressure, even be in the form of a friendly caller ‘acting in your best interest’, are may be trying to catch you off-guard.

Monitor, monitor, monitor.

Regularly check your email and financial account statements, such as banks and credit cards, for suspicious activity.

Avoid conducting personal business through email. 

Never share sensitive information through email. Restrict your communication regarding personal or financial information to voice conversations (phone or in-person, not email). Some examples of ‘personal business’ include:

  • Request to a financial adviser for withdrawal of funds or trade activity
  • Tax related details or documents to a CPA
  • Information regarding loan applications, such as a mortgage
  • Bank or credit card related activities
  • Changes to contact information, such as mailing address, phone or email

How we can work together

Below are some safe practices for communicating with our firm to help protect your information and assets.

  • Keep us informed regarding changes to your personal information
  • It is our standard practice to call you and confirm any requests received through email.
  • In 2019 we will be working with our clients to establish a verbal password in order to confirm identity any time a request is received via phone call. This will be an agenda item during our review meetings in 2019.

As always, thank you for your business, trust and friendship.  Please contact anyone at our office with any questions or concerns regarding our cybersecurity protocol.