January 31, 2021
January 2021 Newsletter
Don't get scammed!

Financial fraud. It’s something no one wants to think about—especially during the pandemic when it feels like we need every ounce of energy just to stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, scammers seem to be using all of their time stuck at home to come up with new, more creative ways to gain access to other people’s money. As a result, stories of smart, savvy, highly educated people who have fallen victim to highly sophisticated scams are rampant. Even if you think you are doing everything you can to protect yourself from fraud, it’s important to learn how scammers are operating today, and to identify the concrete steps you can take to protect your information and your assets.

To help you take those first steps, here are just a few of the most common scams at the moment:

  • Email phishing
    COVID isn’t the only virus you need to worry about these days. Emails and email attachments are the most common way that cybercriminals attack, tempting you to clink links and infect your computer with viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. When successful, these viruses are used to damage and destroy files, computer systems, or even network hardware. Trojan horses are malicious programs that come hidden in ‘safe looking’ software you download for free or in email attachments. Worms wind their way into your system, taking up memory until your computer stops responding or, even worse, giving attackers remote access to your computer.

    To guard against email phishing, never open anything that is attached to an email message unless you know the contents of the file. If you receive an attachment from a familiar email address (be sure to check the actual email address, not just the name of the sender!), but were not expecting anything, contact the sender before opening the attachment. If you receive a suspicious link, hover over it before clicking to be sure it’s directing you to a safe place. If you receive a message with an attachment and you do not recognize the sender, don’t click. And when in doubt, delete, delete, delete.

  • Phone scams
    If you don’t know someone personally who has fallen for a phone scam, consider yourself lucky. This type of fraud is rampant, and unlike the phone scams of the past that were fairly easy to identify, the new breed of phone scams is frighteningly tricky. One of the most common right now is the ‘Grandparent Scam.’ This begins with a phone call that sounds exactly like an older grandchild; the voice is accurate, and the person will mention details that makes them seem legitimate. The caller then tells a sad story about why they need money urgently… and secretly. They’ve gotten into some embarrassing trouble and need grandma or grandpa to help out—without calling their parents or the police. The caller then asks for an immediate bank transfer, a credit card number or, in some cases, for the security details for prepaid gift cards.

    Far-fetched? You would think so, but it happens more often than you would think. To be sure it doesn’t happen to you, always verify the identify of a caller asking for money. Ask questions that would be hard or impossible for an imposter to answer correctly: the last meal you shared together, or a story from their childhood. (Keep in mind that scammers often study social media profiles to gather private information, so they know more than you think!) Next, hang up and contact the person they claim to be using a known phone number. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person you know. 

  • Wire transfers
    At our firm, we have rigorous protocols in place to protect our clients from financial fraud. One example: when wire transfers are requested, we always verbally confirm with a second outgoing call from our office to the phone number on file. If we receive an urgent call to wire money immediately without that precaution, we decline. Our clients value safety over risk, and it is always better to be safe than sorry!

    Don’t let wire fraud happen to you. If you receive an email from an escrow officer, bank representative, or other party asking for financial information, use a 2-step process to confirm their identity. First, verify that the account information provided is accurate. Next, make an outgoing call to your contact using a known number. NEVER give financial to a third-party on an incoming call. No trusted financial institution (or the Social Security Administration or the IRS) will call to request financial information over the phone. If you receive such a call, hang up, do your research, and be sure you’re communicating with the right person, every time.

These are just three examples of common threats, but there are many (many) others, and there will surely be more to come. Scammers are always working to stay one step ahead of potential victims, so your best defense is to be diligent and keep a constant watch for anything even remotely suspicious. A little bit of caution can go a long way!

Here at Leisure Capital, we are confident in the processes and protocols that we and Schwab have put into place to protect our clients’ assets and identities. As part of the Senior Safe Act implemented by Congress in 2018, Schwab asks every client to provide a trusted contact in the event of suspected fraud or unusual account activity. Having this contact can be a great help by giving us an extra form of verification if a client requests a transaction that seems out of character. It may also be reassuring to know that Schwab has an entire team that is dedicated to preventing, investigating and resolving instances of fraud.

If you are a client and you suspect fraud of any kind, Schwab and our team at Leisure Capital are here to help. Contact us immediately and we will work together to keep your assets safe and protected—no matter what new tricks scammers come up with next!

 


 

Visit our guide: Fraud Prevention for more helpful tips
and to learn more the steps we take to protect your information and your assets.

Compliance & Client Service Manager

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