Scammers are working around the clock to come up with a variety of creative ways to steal your personal information and money. To protect your assets from exploitation, you need to remain vigilant and have a critical eye toward those who contact you regarding your personal information or money. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself, such as those we have summarized below.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or messages offering free money or asking for personal information. Do not give out personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or bank account information unless you initiate the contact and trust the recipient.
- Be skeptical of any offer that seems too good to be true. Never accept money or a check that then requires you to send money somewhere else.
- Be wary of phishing scams, which are attempts to trick you into revealing personal information by posing as a trustworthy entity. Always try to verify names, companies, and phone numbers online before proceeding. Do not fill in information requested via mail to recoup a prize or special offer.
- Research any investment opportunity before you invest, including checking with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or other financial regulatory agencies.
- Be suspicious of any unsolicited offer that requires you to pay in advance for a product or service. Avoid engaging with any business that guarantees they can settle your debt or negotiate a settlement on your behalf if you pay in advance.
- Check for red flags such as pressure to act immediately, unrealistic promises, or requests for personal information.
- Do not trust caller ID as scammers can easily manipulate the information that appears on your screen.
- Properly dispose of confidential financial information by shredding or blacking out identifying information.
- Use strong and unique online passwords for all of your financial accounts. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on websites whenever possible. Keep your computer and software up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks when accessing your financial accounts.
- Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails, especially if they are from unknown or untrusted sources.
- Check your financial account statements regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.
- Be mindful of the information you share online and on social media, such as home locations, license plates, or birthdays, as it could be used to gain access to your financial accounts.
While you can take every precaution to avoid falling into a scammer’s trap, we know all too well that it can happen to our most cautious clients. If you do fall victim to a scam, below are some of the first things you should do:
- Contact your bank and credit card companies to report any unauthorized transactions and request new account numbers.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- File a police report with your local law enforcement agency. Be sure to provide as much information as possible, including any documentation or evidence you have of the scam.
- Contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it more difficult for the scammer to open new accounts in your name.
- Keep a record of all communications and transactions related to the scam, including dates, times, phone numbers, email addresses, and the names of any individuals or companies involved.
- Contact your state attorney general's office for additional guidance and resources.
- If the scam involves an investment opportunity, contact the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or another financial regulatory agency.
- If the scam involves a government agency, contact the corresponding government department or agency.
It is important to act fast and take all the necessary steps to protect your identity and financial information. Remember that scammers are sophisticated, and they can use your personal information to commit further frauds.
At Hollow Brook we help each of our clients integrate their estate plan into their long-term financial plan and investment strategy. While estate plans may change over time, we take a long term and holistic approach to managing multi-generational assets. This management style has allowed us to maximize the impact of our client’s dollars and see the value of their wealth multiplied over generations. If you have questions about how to better structure your estate, please reach out to us as we welcome the conversation.
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Disclaimer: Information provided is for educational purposes only. HBWM does not provide tax, legal, compliance, or accounting advice. In considering this material, you should discuss your individual circumstances with professionals in those areas before making any decisions. Further, HBWM makes no warranties with regard to such information, or a result obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information.