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Consumers need to be more aware and prepared than ever to identify and protect themselves from advanced fraud schemes. What should you be aware of?
Category: Personal Finance Tags: , , , , , , ,

Consumers need to be more aware and prepared than ever to identify and protect themselves from advanced fraud schemes that threaten their financial security and personal information. Three common types of fraud targeting people’s financial information are:

  1. Physical check and important document theft from the mail.
  2. The impersonation of websites.
  3. Email phishing schemes.

We have recently observed a concerning increase in reports of physical check theft. In light of this trend, it’s crucial for consumers to be more vigilant and informed about the various methods fraudsters use to compromise financial security and personal information. To help you effectively protect yourself, we’ve outlined key strategies to combat physical check theft and two other prevalent forms of fraud: website impersonation and email phishing. Understanding and implementing these protective measures can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to these deceptive practices.

  1. Checks and Important Documents Stolen from the Mail: A more traditional method of fraud, that we are witnessing a resurgence of, is stealing checks or customer statements from physical mailboxes. Once obtained, a check can be altered or cashed, and the statements can be used to gather critical banking information that can aid in fraudulent activities. To prevent the stealing of physical mail, we encourage signing up for e-statements and avoiding using physical checks when possible. Our service team can help link your brokerage account to bank accounts at other institutions to enable moving money to and from bank accounts without the need for paper checks.
  2. Impersonation of Websites to Steal Login Data: Cybercriminals often create counterfeit websites that mirror legitimate websites. Unsuspecting customers think they are accessing a trusted website and enter their login credentials, which are then captured by the fraudsters. Fraudulent websites sometimes show up on search results from Google or other search engines. This method of fraud is called “website spoofing.” To prevent this, a best practice is for consumers to find a legitimate website for the financial services company, create a bookmark in their browser, and use the bookmark link to navigate to the actual, authentic website. We recommend clients do not regularly use Google or other search engines to first search for the website as a way to navigate to the financial institution’s website.
  3. Email Phishing Schemes: Similar to the first example, email phishing is carried out by fraudsters who send out deceptive emails to lure people into either responding directly to a request, downloading an application or document, or following a link to a spoofed website. Most of these cyber-attacks are under the guise of a respected financial institution and appear to be time-sensitive. The various types of downloads could contain a virus that infects the target computer or steals information as it is typed. At the same time, the fraudster uses the spoofed websites to steal vital information about an individual. Awareness and vigilance are essential when using email, and it’s important to either go through the application that’s downloaded on a computer, tablet, or smartphone to access an account or call the company that sent you the inquiry directly before following any prompt to click a link or download.

While people focus on preventing cyber-attacks, physical theft is still a problem that people must be vigilant against. The three examples of different scams in this letter are popular methods fraudsters are currently employing to gain access to people’s financial lives. These schemes are designed to pressure individuals or dupe them into giving the perpetrator access to the critical information needed for identity theft or accessing financial accounts. Customers must use the best practices mentioned and, when in doubt, always seek a second or third opinion from the company claiming to reach the customer.

Written by: Matthew Goldman


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