By: Chrissy Israel – Financial Planner
With fraud and scams on the rise, Buckingham Advisors wants to make sure you have the tools to help notice when someone is being taken advantage of and how to prevent future scams.
The common scams we covered in our video addressed Email Phishing, Text Message scams, and Imposter calls.
The ways to identify if your email is legitimate or not:
- Look at the sender, if the email doesn’t match the name or the company – it is most likely a scam. (Example: email@example.com and the company is a large corporation)
- The subject line – in our example we saw it just had a transaction code. That is not common. If you ordered something – it should have the company name within the subject line or just an order confirmation. If you did not order anything from said company – there is a good chance this is just fraud and you can find the official companies website and contact their customer service.
- Who the email is addressed to – If it is addressed to your email handle, it is most likely scam or “dear client”.
- What is highlighted and shown the most? – most likely a phone number. They want you to call about a fraud order and give them all your information. If you are skeptical and have questions, again, please go to the official company website and call their phone number.
- Grammar and spelling – official company emails will have proper grammar and no spelling or spacing errors.
- Company logo – is the logo the correct logo of the company? Is it blurry? Is it included in the email signature? – if not, it is most likely a scam email.
The ways to identify if a text message is legitimate or not:
1. Grammar/spacing – same as email. Companies will use proper grammar and correct spelling.
- Mentions card number – most financial institutions will not include a card number in the text.
- Look at the website: is it a redirected website? – what this means is it has the company/financial institution name in the link but the actual website is somewhere else. Do not click this link. Immediately call the company if you are concerned from their official website.
- Does the text use scare tactics? – example “Call NOW.” – financial institutions and companies will not want to panic you about something. This is a way to scare you so you don’t see the other signs.
- Is there even a company name in the text? If not, assume it is a fraud message.
- If you do receive a fraud message – you can copy the message and report it to the Federal Trade Commission fraud number at 7726(SPAM). This will help your wireless provider spot and block similar messages.
Some of the most common imposter calls:
- IRS – The IRS will not call you unless you have already been in contact with them regarding an issue that you have discussed with them before.
- Your grandchild or child is in jail and needs money for bond – asking for a cashier’s check to be mailed (typically targeted to elderly parents/grandchildren out of town).
- You WIN! – You won the lottery but need to pay so much money in taxes via cashier’s check or gift cards to receive your winnings.
- Bank’s calling pretending to be fraud protection – will mask the phone number of the bank.
How to prevent:
- Register on the national do not call list.
- Be cautious of how you answer the phone. If you do answer a phone number that you do not recognize – answer as “Hello.” If they ask is this “John Doe” DO NOT REPLY YES. Respond with another question. Sometimes they want to get a voice recording of your name/saying yes/no so they can impersonate you to get access to your information.
- If you don’t know the number, don’t answer. If it was an important call, the caller will leave a voicemail message.
- Only call the number on the verified website, or if you have answered a “bank/credit card call” – simply tell the “rep” before you give them any information you will call the phone number on the website back and discuss with the next rep available. If they start to get aggressive – hang up the phone immediately.
- Talk with your family members/trusted friends about the “winnings” or child in jail needing bond before you make a move.
- Most places do not take gift cards as payments, if someone is saying you have to purchase a gift card, this is fraud.
While these are some of the common forms of fraud/scam, there are more, unfortunately. Here are some easy ways to prevent all forms of fraud:
- Register on the national do not call list.
- Ask your phone provider about spam blocker apps/services and register.
- Be vigilant and ask your friends and family if something doesn’t sound right.
- Don’t give out your personal information over the phone, unless you know who is on the other line.
- Do not give out personal information over email or text.
- Utilize a credit card for purchases to help prevent debit card scanning.
- If you use a debit card, use your PIN at check outs, this is what helps keep your information private.
- Monitor your bank accounts weekly.
- Change your passwords every six months.
While it is important to keep your information safe, it is also just as important to recognize if a family member or friend is showing signs of being taken advantage of by fraud or a scam. Some of the most common signs of fraud/scam:
- They have a sudden lack of money, especially if they have not had that problem before.
- Sudden need to go to the store/bank to purchase a large amount of gift cards, money orders, or they need to make an unexpected wire transfer.
- They’re keeping secrets from you.
- They’re showing signs of unknown stress.
- They’re on their phone or email more than usual and receiving a lot of unknown/blocked phone calls.
- Unusual number of strangers as “friends” on social media
- Frequent, unnecessary home repairs and/or spending
If you have any questions regarding the information provided, please contact us at 937-435-2742.