A new age of fraud and scamming is upon us. Fraudsters and scammers have gotten smarter, slicker, and more nefarious than ever before. COVID-19 and the surrounding economic uncertainty has led to heightened anxiety among investors and civilians alike. Fear can make people desperate, and desperation is a prime target for fraud.
Increased use of electronic communication allows for fraudsters to exploit vulnerable or anxious people through impersonations and bogus requests. Criminals have become increasingly effective at impersonating the U.S. government or government officials, and many people are falling for investment scams claiming coronavirus-related breakthroughs or soliciting sales of unapproved or dangerous medical products. This is in addition to the latest scams that are frighteningly effective at impersonating Banks and Service Apps with identical email templates and phone numbers.
Those are just two of many different types of fraud and scams, here is a more detailed breakdown of the types of fraud and scams you may encounter:
The fact of the matter is, rules and regulations are only as effective as the people who follow them. Each individual themselves must take ultra-stringent precautions with their own actions and communications. The UK developed an anti-fraud campaign called Take Five to Fight Fraud, which has five quick and helpful tips. The tips are valuable to anyone in any country, no matter if you’re a financial advisor looking to better serve your clients or you’re a consumer looking to protect your investment funds and personal accounts.
Treat your security details the same as you would cash. Would you hand over your hard-earned cash to anyone but a bank teller? Of course not. Your security details are as valuable as cash to scammers. Getting these details gives scammers unfettered access to your accounts. You can fight scammers by never give out your social security number, passwords, or PINs, to anyone that isn’t an authorized individual.
When prompted for security details online, make sure the website you are on is legitimate and secure. You can check this by looking at the URL. It should read ‘https’ instead of ‘http,’ which means the website has an SSL certificate that ensures your information is secure when traveling from your browser to the website’s server. Lastly, you should never put security details in an email as a general rule.
On the phone, it is best if you are contacting the individual or entity directly: that way, you know where your call is going. When someone calls you, you have no idea where the call originated from. Even if you receive a call that you believe is from an authorized individual, you can ensure that it isn’t a phishing scam by calling them back on their officially listed number.
Take a minute to assess the situation fully. Fraudsters will try to rush you to throw you off your game. Remember that no legitimate person or entity will ever rush you to disclose your personal information. So, if and when someone is calling as a Bank, the IRS, or some other entity makes the situation sound urgent and rushed, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s a scam and to discontinue to interaction.
If something doesn't feel right in your gut, trust that feeling. Financial firms, banks and especially government agencies have a specific process or protocol to adhere to, and chances are you’ve been through it already. So, if something sticks out and feels different, acknowledge that and assess it right then and there. If you have a funny feeling about something, it’s usually your memory telling you this call or email isn’t like the other ones, and that’s because it isn’t. Humans like you are perceptive and intuitive, give yourself that credit and trust yourself when something raises a red flag in your head.
5. If you’re suspicious that you may be dealing with a fraudster or scammer, you need to do three (3) things: Stop. Challenge. Protect.
The following is what The Take Five to Fight Fraud Campaign says to do:
When it comes to the security of your money and security information, you do have many resources, but you need to be your own protector: after all, you’re the last line of defense. With helpful assets like Take Five to Fight Fraud at your disposal, your identity, accounts, and investments are in great hands.
The information included herein was obtained from sources which we believe reliable. Allegheny Financial Group is a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Allegheny Investments, LTD, a registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.