Scams: What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

Financial Planning Concepts

Criminal strategies to steal your wealth are becoming more sophisticated, more numerous, and more successful in achieving their nefarious objectives.1 Are you prepared to defend the wealth and good financial reputation you spent a lifetime creating?

If you use a cellphone, computer, or other internet-connected device, the chances are high that you have been a target of some malicious scheme. Even if you didn’t click on a suspicious link in an email or respond to a seemingly legitimate text from your bank or credit card company, your adoption of interconnected devices and accounts is fertile ground for bad actors to attempt to steal your wealth or exploit your financial reputation to receive ill-gotten monies. 

How many scams can you name? Is it true if you can’t name a scam you are susceptible to becoming its next target and victim? The implication of this last question is unsettling; however, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission lists over two dozen categories of scams.2 To defend against them, review the FTC’s site for articles and best practices to help protect your financial reputation.

A recent FTC consumer alert is entitled “Scammers Hide Harmful Links in QR Codes to Steal Your Information.”3 QR codes can be found in restaurants (to access the menu), public parking decks (to pay), entertainment venues (to gain entrance), etc. Scammers have capitalized on this technology to further their malicious schemes. In addition to the use of strong passwords and multifactor authentication, the consumer alert recommends you inspect the URL offered up by the QR code before opening it (i.e., looking for misspelled words or misplaced letters, etc.).

Another FTC consumer alert provides a timeless best practice in defending against financial scams.4 Entitled “Give Yourself Some Credit (Reports),” FTC attorney Seena Gressin recommends you regularly check your credit reports. Once you receive your credit report, review all the accounts listed to ensure no new accounts have been opened that you don’t know anything about. Furthermore, review the list of credit applications to ensure you recognize all of them. If you discover wrong information or suspicious activities within your credit report, take action to correct it. Contact the credit bureau to correct the wrong information in your credit report.  However, if suspicious activity is found in your credit report, contact both the credit bureau and to report it and begin a recovery plan.

You can find more information on these topics in the links below.

Finally, if you are interested in learning more ways to defend against financial scams and identity theft, please read “Hack-Proof Your Life Now!” written by Sean M. Bailey and Devin Kropp. Some of the topics this book addresses include why you need a secret email address, how to beat the password paradox, spot ransomware with the 10-second email rule, etc. As Sean and Devin state on the back cover of this online security book, “Everyone is vulnerable. But you don’t have to be defenseless.”

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