facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
Protect Yourself From These Online Scams Thumbnail

Protect Yourself From These Online Scams

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, so we have to stay diligent about protecting our personal information. Let’s look at some of the most common information-stealing scams so that you can be aware of them and protect yourself.

Pop-Up Message Scams

The scam begins with a pop-up message received on your computer, appearing to be from either Microsoft or Apple, alerting you that your computer has been compromised. The pop-up message instructs you to call a provided “tech support” number. The phone number connects you to a hacker.

After speaking with the scammer, you will be contacted by someone impersonating a financial institution “security officer.” They will inform you that your account has been compromised and may ask for detailed information (account number, social security number, passwords etc.) regarding your accounts. They may even say that, due to security concerns, you should not speak to your investment advisor about this.

Their goal is to initiate a request to move money out of your account, based on having access to your credentials.

If you are a target of this scam:

  • Do not click on links or call any phone numbers listed in the computer pop-up. They are fake.
  • Always verify the phone numbers for tech providers or your financial institution independently.
  • Never grant remote access to your personal devices or to any websites with sensitive information, including your bank accounts and other financial institution accounts. 
  • Call your investment advisor. We will help you in determining if the requests from your financial institution are legitimate or how to follow up if your accounts have been compromised.

Text Message Scams

Text message scams, also known as SMS phishing or “smishing,” have surged in popularity among scammers due to the widespread use of smartphones. These messages often appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or financial institutions and aim to trick recipients into revealing personal information or clicking on malicious links.

One prevalent text message scam involves fake account alerts. Scammers send texts claiming suspicious activity on your bank account and urge you to click on a link to verify your information. The link, however, leads to a fraudulent website designed to steal login credentials.

Apart from pretending to be your bank, scammers can also pretend to be other financial apps, such as Venmo or PayPal.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, remember the following:

  • Verify the Sender: Legitimate financial institutions typically use recognizable phone numbers or official shortcodes for their messages. If the sender’s number seems unfamiliar or suspicious, it’s likely a scam.
  • Think Before Clicking: Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited messages, especially if they claim urgent action is required. Instead, independently verify the information by visiting the involved institution’s official website or calling its customer service department.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails remain a favorite tool for scammers seeking to steal sensitive information. These emails are designed to appear legitimate, often mimicking official correspondence from banks or investment firms.

A typical phishing email tactic involves requests for account verification. The email typically states that your account needs immediate attention due to suspicious activity or an expiring security certificate. It then prompts you to click on a link or download an attachment, which leads to a fake login page designed to capture your credentials.

What to do to avoid falling for phishing emails:

  • Inspect URLs: Hover your mouse over email links to see the URL. If it looks suspicious or doesn’t match the sender’s website, don’t click on it. Instead, report the email to your email provider.
  • Check for Red Flags: Watch out for spelling errors, generic greetings (e.g., “Dear Customer”), and urgent language designed to evoke a quick response.
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible. Even if scammers obtain your login credentials, 2FA provides an additional layer of security.

Protect Your Personal Information

As scammers continue to evolve and use more sophisticated tactics, staying informed and vigilant is crucial to safeguarding your financial information. Here are some additional tips to help protect yourself and secure your personal information:

Regularly Monitor Your Accounts
Routinely check your bank and investment account statements for any unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution immediately.

Keep Software Updated
Ensure that your devices, including smartphones and computers, have the latest security updates and antivirus software.

Educate Yourself and Others
Share information about these scams with friends and family, especially those who may be more vulnerable to such schemes.

By staying informed and adopting best practices, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to these information-stealing scams. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and safeguard your finances in the digital age.

Karen L. Asbra, CFP®

Karen is a Senior Financial Advisor and Chief Operating Officer at Rappaport Reiches Capital Management.Karen is a strategic partner to her clients, bringing discipline and clarity to achieving their goals. Please connect with Karen below. She loves to talk about investing, financial planning, and Broadway musicals.

The author does not intend to provide investment, legal or tax advice as these materials are for general educational purposes only. Please consult your legal, tax or investment professional for advice on your particular situation. This material is derived from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and the opinions based thereon are not guaranteed. It is not intended to be a solicitation, offer or recommendation to acquire or dispose of any investment or to engage in any other transaction. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Please refer to RRCM’s Form ADV Part 2 for additional disclosures regarding RRCM and its practices.