Oct 3, 2023
5 Steps to Fraud Prevention
Nobody wants to be a victim of fraud, yet it seems to be more common than ever as scammers use increasingly sophisticated tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Advances in technology have genuinely benefited society and made our lives easier and better, but a downside is that modern technology can also be used for illegal or unethical purposes. Help protect yourself from fraud by following these five important steps.
1. Avoid phishing scams
- In a phishing scam, the cybercriminal pretends to be a legitimate source and makes a request via email or text, often with urgency to put pressure on you to act without thinking things through. These scams are getting more and more sophisticated, and often appear to be from a friend or colleague. It’s estimated that 150 million phishing emails are sent daily, so you should always be on your guard. Before you click…
- If you don’t recognize the email address or phone number sending you a message, don’t respond, click on a link or give any information.
- Beware of cloned websites that may appear to be legitimate—right down to the logos, fonts, copy style and colors. Keep in mind that secure websites start with “https,” not “http.”
- You can hover over a link to reveal the true destination before clicking.
- Malicious links can come from friends who have been infected as well.
2. Up your level of security
- Use two-factor or multifactor authentication whenever possible.
- Many apps and websites have this as an option for additional security, so you just need to turn it on. Layering in additional security is not efficient as it may slow down your operating system, but it can make all the difference in protecting your accounts.
- This extra security can often come in the form of a text/email with a code or fingerprint scan.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- At least once a quarter, update your passwords—again not efficient and a little time consuming, but using the same password across all logins from email to bank access leaves you more susceptible in the event of a breach at any provider or website you use.
- Use a strong password.
- Size and complexity matters. A password string of eight letters can take milliseconds for a hacker to break. Lengthen it to 10 digits, add in a number, uppercase letter and special character, and that could increase the amount of time it would take to break to 10+ years.
3. Protect your personal identifiable information (PII)
- PII includes your Social Security number, account numbers, driver’s license number, birthdate, address, phone number, etc.
- Be thoughtful about attachments sent through email. Always password-protect attachments containing PII or upload them through a secure portal.
- Shred any bank statements (and other paper documents with account numbers and PII) that you no longer wish to retain—don’t just throw them away because scam artists may find and use them for fraudulent purposes.
4. Freeze your credit
- If you don’t plan on opening new lines of credit, consider putting a freeze on your credit with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. When you freeze your credit record, you prevent lenders from seeing your credit report unless you specifically grant them access. This may prevent identity thieves from taking out new credit in your name, even if they have your Social Security number and other personal information.
5. If your identity or credit is compromised, let us know
- There are additional steps that can be taken at most financial institutions, in the event that your identity or personal information is compromised. There are experts who are dedicated to uncovering scams and helping those who have been victimized.
- Your Corient Wealth Advisor and other professionals are also available to provide support, so don’t feel that you have to deal with the consequences of fraudulent activity on your own. And remember, if you follow our five steps to preventing fraud, you’ll be less likely to fall victim in the first place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil Teubel, MS, CFP
Neil heads BDF’s Financial Planning Committee whose goal is to ensure BDF provides a best in class, proactive, and engaging financial planning experience for clients. His passion is helping executives, widows and retirees live their full lives while navigating their wealth planning complexities. Neil has his Masters in Financial planning and has frequently been named to both Forbes and Chicago Crain’s list of Top Wealth Advisors. He joined BDF in 2011 and is a member of our Executive Team.
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