We have heard from clients and financial institutions that attempts at fraud have increased. We want to make sure that you know how to recognize a fraudulent attempt to access your private information. “Scammers” will pose as bank representatives, IRS agents, employees of the State Franchise Tax Board, and anyone whom you may be inclined to trust with financial information. Contact us anytime you receive a request for information that may make you uncomfortable. It is always better to wait to provide information than to risk being a victim of fraud. We will help you in determining how to verify whether a request is valid, and we will advise you in how to report fraud.
Some red flags that should make you stop, question, and withhold information:
- Anytime you receive a phone call requesting sensitive information. Most institutions will send you a letter instead of calling. If an institution or company does call you to request information or verify a charge or payment, do not provide any sensitive information over the phone to whomever may have called you. Call the institution yourself, using the number that you have always used. If you have a trusted contact there, request to speak with that person.
- Be wary of promotions, contests you may have “won”, and anything that may be simply an inducement for you to call and provide sensitive information.
- Do not respond to emails requesting your personal information. Legitimate institutions will never email you to request your social security number, bank account information, etc.
- Protect yourself on social media. Your friends’ accounts may get hacked, and the scammer may start writing you through social media. Do not provide your cell phone number or email address or any personal information to someone who may be posing as your friend on social media. Contact that person outside of the social media application instead.
- As always, do not use the same password for your accounts and change your passwords periodically. It is inconvenient, yes, but important for obstructing hackers.
- Do not stay signed into websites, as convenient as it is. It is best to always enter your login credentials, as cumbersome as that can be.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of being circumspect and suspicious of people who request your personal information. Fraud and hacking can happen to absolutely anyone, and it can be very difficult to detect until it is too late.
Please remember that we are here to answer any questions you may have and to help you protect your accounts and personal information.