Protecting Yourself Against Fraud and Cyber Crime

It’s no secret that we all have become progressively dependent on electronic devices. We pay our bills, shop, and socialize online with one click of a button on a device that fits in our pockets. While technology has become more sophisticated, so have scammers.   

According to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime is estimated to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this trend, and Internet scams are becoming harder to recognize and easier for hackers to successfully execute. Cybercrime can inflict serious harm to your personal finances and your credit and must be taken seriously.

To help you avoid being the victim of a scam, Southwestern Investment Group offers tips to help recognize and prevent cybercrime. While many of these attempts take place online, particularly through emails, texts, phone calls, other communications can also be used by “bad actors” to try to scam you.  

Recognizing a Scam

  • Be on the lookout for suspicious signs – Misspelled words or poor grammar are easy to spot but can go undetected if communications are not carefully read. In addition, beware of requests for personal information. It’s unlikely that legitimate companies would reach out to you over email or phone asking for your Social Security number or credit card details. In those situations, you should never give personal details to those requesting. Instead contact the organization through legitimate channels to inform them of the request.
  • Messages from unrecognized numbers/emails – Often, scammers will send emails or text messages from fake emails or phone numbers with disguised links. Even legitimate seeming email addresses are often disguised, which you can uncover by clicking the sender’s email address. If it is a compilation of words and numbers that don’t make sense, this is a scam. Do not click on these emails but delete them immediately.
  • Trust your gut: If something feels “off” or too good to be true, such as that text you received with a free gift or offer if you just click on a link, it probably is. Trust your instincts.

Preventing Scams

Online scammers have become increasingly more sophisticated in their approach, and one can easily fall into their traps. They prey on emotion, capitalizing on current topics like COVID-19. Do not give your personal, medical, or financial information to anyone claiming to offer money or gifts in exchange for your participation in a survey, for example.

There are some best practices you can follow to avoid falling victim to cyber-attacks. First, if your online accounts offer the option of two-factor authentication, take advantage of it. Two-factor authentication is one of the most secure methods to protect all your data. Additionally, limit the amount of personal information you share online. If your personal phone number or email address can be found anywhere on the Internet, scammers will find it and attempt to contact you.

Alert your Financial Advisor ASAP if You are the Victim of Cybercrime

At Southwestern Investment Group, we take your security seriously. If you have any questions about our policies and procedures to protect your assets, please reach out to your advisor directly. You should also notify your other financial institution(s), change all your passwords immediately, and consider freezing your credit information to prevent thieves from using your personal information to obtain credit in your name. Remember to monitor your accounts for signs of theft, such as unusual activity on your credit cards or other bills.

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