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Fraud Prevention – Part 2

In last week’s post I wrote about the increasing number of our senior clients falling victim to online financial scams.  Once money has left your account the chances of recovering it are remote.  So, the best defense is to prevent it from happening in the first place.  As I stated last week, there are some simple things we all can do to avoid being the next victim.

Some scammers make initial contact by phone and others by email.  In either case, if you don’t recognize the caller or the email address, you should be on high alert.  If a caller asks for personal information such as your birth date or Social Security don’t provide it.  No legitimate business or government entity will ask for this information on the phone or in an email.  Whatever story you are told to increase the urgency that you “must respond immediately” don’t believe it.  There is never a good reason to act now before doing some investigation.

In the case of emails, never click on links in an email from someone you don’t know or an email address you don’t recognize.  Also be wary of an email from someone you do know but whose email address looks different than the one you know.  It might have the person’s name but the suffix is different (ie. the part of the email address after the “@“ symbol). 

Email addresses are often hacked.  Even if you get an email from someone you knows and it appears to be the correct address, if you are not expecting it or it doesn’t make sense or in some way seems “off”, don’t respond to it and don’t click on any links contained in that email.

Protecting your bank and other financial accounts is a bit more difficult.  What if you walk into your bank and ask to withdraw a large amount of money or to wire funds?  Can they refuse your request?  Should they refuse?  We’ll talk about that next week.