No Tricks, Just Treats: How to Avoid Scams
By Adam Roberts , Private Wealth Advisor
We often associate October’s cooler weather with beautiful leaves, football tailgating, holiday planning, and all things pumpkin. And for many children, October evokes excitement as they anticipate candy, costumes, and those three extra-special words: “Trick or treat!”
When it comes to our finances, Halloween seems like an appropriate time of the year to discuss ways to ensure we aren’t tricked by financial scams or by the promise of “treats” that are simply too good to be true.
Sophisticated scams abound
During a visit with my parents, my father answered a call from a local number that displayed “Apple Store” on caller ID. He assumed it was a follow-up from his recent trip to the Apple Store, but instead the representative said Apple had detected a virus on his computer and needed immediate remote access to remove it. When he questioned why it wasn’t detected at the store, the representative became pushy and insisted that he needed access or the computer would become inoperable.
As I listened to the conversation, I realized this was a scam and instructed my father to end the call. We then called the Apple Store directly, and the employee confirmed that Apple never calls customers to request remote access. A few days later, a local newspaper published an article warning residents of this exact scam.
Recognizing red flags
Because we recognized several red flags, my father and I were able to prevent him from falling prey to a scam. Fraudsters often employ similar tactics, so let’s discuss some common red flags.
- Urgency: Whether it’s a phone call or an email, scammers try to evoke fear by stating the issue is urgent and must be corrected immediately.
- Misspelled or misused words: Emails or texts from a reputable company aren’t likely to have typos or use improper grammar.
- Requests for immediate payment: Legitimate companies aren’t likely to call you to demand payment. Instead, they generally notify you that a payment is due and instruct you to visit their website to sign on and make a payment.
- Links to click: Financial firms aren’t likely to ask you to click a link to update your personal information. Instead, reputable companies will direct you to visit their website to sign on and update your information.
- Information request: Fraudulent callers often say there’s a problem with your account and proceed to ask for personal information to “correct the issue.” Never provide identifying information to an inbound caller.
- Sender’s email address: Fraudsters use company logos and graphics to make emails look legitimate, but often send the email from a personal email address that isn’t associated with the company’s web domain.
- Too good to be true: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Reduce your chances of being scammed
Simply trusting your instincts can help you identify fraud. If something about a call, text, or email seems odd, immediately end the call or delete the message. You can always call the company directly to ensure your account is in order — just be sure to visit the company’s website to find the phone number (never call a number listed in a potentially fraudulent email).
There are many precautions you can take to avoid being scammed, but we suggest starting with these 10 practical steps.
|10 Ways to Protect Yourself From Scammers|
|1||Create strong passwords: For your online accounts, use unique passwords, change them quarterly, and enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible.|
|2||Monitor financial accounts: Keep a close eye on your statements and transactions, reporting any suspicious activity to your financial institution immediately.|
|3||Name a trusted contact: This person can’t make transactions or access your account, but serves as a contact if you can’t be reached or your bank notices unusual activity.|
|4||Create a power of attorney (POA): Unlike a trusted contact, your POA can access accounts and make financial decisions for you — providing oversight and continuity if you’re unable to make decisions.|
|5||Avoid clicking links and attachments: A good rule of thumb is to avoid clicking links or attachments in marketing emails or texts, as they can contain malware.|
|6||Approach communications with caution: If you receive an unexpected email, text, or phone call, especially from an unknown source, be overly cautious.|
|7||Protect account information: Be cautious about sharing personal or financial information online or through unsecured emails.|
|8||Shred identifying documents: Dispose of financial statements and bills securely, using a cross-cut shredder to prevent identity theft.|
|9||Maintain antivirus protection: When it comes to antivirus software, there are many choices. What’s most important is that you keep your antivirus software up to date.|
|10||Consider your social media posts: Be mindful of what you post on social media, as fraudsters often use this information to craft convincing scams.|
How we work to safeguard your information
At Potentia Wealth, protecting your personal and financial information is a top priority. This begins with building strong client relationships through meaningful conversations about your life, interests, and plans. By knowing our clients well, we’re better able to recognize requests that are unusual or out of character. And, on a more tangible level, when we’re aware of vacation and travel plans, we know to keep a closer eye on your accounts to avoid unauthorized transactions.
We also have various processes and procedures in place to safeguard your accounts. First, we require verbal confirmation for all contribution and distribution requests. Next, when communicating about personal or account information, we use secure channels that use the latest encryption methods. And, finally, money movement requests such as wires, transfers, and withdrawals undergo stringent scrutiny to prevent unauthorized or fraudulent transactions.
Partnering together to avoid tricks and scams
In this age of digital communications, we encourage you to proactively secure your personal and financial information. And, you can rest assured that Potentia Wealth is protecting your accounts by upholding stringent internal processes and employing the latest technology. Working together, we can minimize your risk of becoming a victim of a scam.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. Potentia and Potentia Wealth do not provide legal advice or tax services. Please consult your legal advisor or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.
Investment advice offered through Mariner Independent Advisor Network, a registered investment advisor. Mariner Independent Advisor Network, Potentia Wealth, and Potentia are separate entities.
©2023 Potentia Inc.