By: Lori Stephenson, Wealth Advisor
In today’s world, technology is a part of our daily lives. From banking to shopping, everything can be done with just a few clicks on your phone or laptop. However, as technology advances, it’s increasingly common for people to fall victim to fraudulent activity. Scammers often impersonate representatives from well-known companies via email, phone or text message and trick people into giving their personal information and money. Recently, two of my clients experienced this firsthand and I want to share their stories in hope of helping others protect themselves and their hard-earned money.
A False Promise for Wealth and Security
My client received an email claiming that they had won $8 million, an SUV and a $5000 monthly-for-life award from Publishers Clearing House (PCH). In order to claim the prize, the scammer told my client to purchase gift cards to pay off fees and taxes. They even went as far as opening a new bank account for my client to deposit the funds into. The scammer called my client repeatedly and urged them not to tell anyone about this prize.
The prize never arrived. An offer from a seemingly reputable company gave my client a false sense of security and lured them with a promise of being set for life.
The ‘Locked Out’ Text Message Trick
Another one of my clients received a text message claiming that their Amazon account had been hacked and an iPhone was purchased using their account. The message provided a phone number for the client to call, which led them to speak with someone pretending to be from Amazon customer service. This scammer also pretended to transfer the call to the client’s bank and then finally transferred them to what they claimed was law enforcement. The “officer” requested that my client purchase gift cards in specific amounts and provide the card numbers to verify their identity. He swore them to secrecy and threatened them with identity theft if they did not cooperate.
Tips to Keep Your Money Safe
These scenarios are just two examples of how scammers can lure unsuspecting victims into giving away their information and money. So, what can you do to protect yourself from such scams?
- Do not trust phone numbers within text messages or email. To find the correct contact information, manually search online and the number should be on the company’s website.
- The “s” in “https/” means secure. If you do not see the s, be cautious of the website, especially if you know that the bank or financial institution should be secure.
- Do your due diligence. For example, the Publishers Clearing House website states in big, bold letters at the top that they will never ask you for money should you win and the first time you hear from them will be with the prize check. Always make sure to check out the website for any similar disclaimers.
- We tell our children that if anyone says to not tell your parents, they should come to us immediately. Use that principal here too. If someone tells you not to tell, talk to your spouse or another trusted adult (you can call me!) for another opinion.
- Amazon will not transfer you to your bank. If there is a payment issue, they will tell you to call the bank yourself. Additionally, your bank will not transfer your phone call to law enforcement.
- Gift cards are the newest way to scam people out of money. Here is a link to the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information regarding gift card scams.
- Lastly, do not give out confidential information. Do not provide your account information, Social Security Number, address or driver’s license number.
If you find yourself in a situation like the scenarios mentioned above, hang up and call someone you trust! At Exencial, we are here to help you navigate these situations without judgment.
Exencial Wealth Advisors is an SEC-registered investment adviser. Any reference to the terms “registered investment adviser” or “registered” do not imply that Exencial or any person associated with Exencial has achieved a certain level of skill or training.