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Frustrating Phone Scams and Financial Fraud

July 20, 2018—For better or worse, most people who fall victim to phone scams, identity theft or other financial fraud don’t broadcast the news; it’s painful and embarrassing, so they confide only in close friends and family.

They usually let their financial advisor know as well – as they should. It’s not a job I relish, but I’m glad to be able to assist families when they have been victimized – whether it’s helping them freeze accounts, offering timely advice, or just being there to listen.

Unfortunately, there’s a growing need to be alert. Javelin Strategy & Research reported identity theft was up by 8% in 2017, impacting 16.7 million consumers, or 6.7% of us. Recently, I’ve had two clients fall victim to two separate “technical support” phone scams. Nowadays, these scammers pose as almost any familiar name: Microsoft, Apple, Comcast, your bank, a retail outlet … you name it. They suggest your security already has been compromised and will offer to “fix” something on your computer. What they’re actually fixing to do is gain access to and steal your stuff.

“I won’t fall for that,” you might think. And ordinarily, you may be right. Then again, my two clients took the calls when they were already under stress. One had just returned from a parent’s funeral; the other was recovering from a medical procedure and was still under mild sedation. One of the scams was pretty elaborate too. They gave my client a call-back number for confirmation, but it was also part of the ruse.

Bottom line: Reputable agencies and companies don’t call haphazardly, telling you your computer has been hacked, or a payment is past due, or you’ve won a big prize. Never give an unsolicited caller control over your computer or your credit card number. Also, if anyone asks for payment by gift card (which can’t be traced or reversed), consider it the calling card of a con artist.

To help you build your best defenses against these and other scams, I’ve created an overview and made it available the Resources/Whitepapers section of our website, www.alliantwealth.com. Check it out and pass it on!

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