by Carolyn Rogers, CFRE, Wealth Services
Sanibel Captiva Trust Company
No matter what age we are, cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to part us from our money and identities every day. Sadly, most scams go unreported because the victim feels foolish for being tricked. Don’t! These bad actors are shrewd and convincing. Some of the brightest and most savvy people have fallen victim to these scams. By reporting them, you can help battle the problem and save others from financial loss and identity theft.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable, because many may not keep pace with changes in technology and stay up on the latest scams. High-net-worth individuals are also at elevated risk, especially if they hold high liquid assets and are active social media users where cybercriminals can scour the web for more personal data to design more targeted scams. However, with the right knowledge and precautions, all of us can better protect ourselves.
Phishing: Cybercriminals often use emails, phone calls, or text messages that appear to be from legitimate organizations (e.g., banks, government agencies) to steal personal information or money. Be vigilant by looking up contact information to those organizations yourself and calling them to verify if they sent the communication to you. Never open any links or call the number provided in the original communication unless you know the sender.
Spear Phishing: Spear phishing scams are highly targeted attacks on high-net-worth individuals, companies and even government organizations. Cybercriminals conduct intense personal research on the target, and are more likely to succeed. Learning what signs to be aware of in both Spear Phishing and Phishing emails can be helpful in avoiding these attacks:
• The email may seem to be from someone you know. It is urgent and requires your login details to manage a time-sensitive matter.
• The email address looks odd and the domain is not correct.
• Has grammatical and spelling errors.
• Asks for sensitive information and personal details.
• Links are misspelled and don’t match the address when the cursor hovers over the link.
• The email has unnecessary attachments with odd file names.
• Pretexting: Urging you to use the attached link to keep your login credentials from expiring.
Fake Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: Fraudsters call or email claiming the target has won a lottery or sweepstakes, but to claim their prize they must pay fees or taxes upfront. This scam has cost many people thousands of dollars and even life savings. Remember, legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes never ask winners to pay fees in advance.
The Grandparent Scam: Fraudsters pose as a grandchild or close family member in distress, claiming they need immediate financial assistance due to an emergency. They are counting on the victim’s sympathy and the urgent timing of the matter to gain access to protected information. STOP and think! Verify their phone number by checking a website or contacting a related family member for their number to be sure it’s legitimate.
Tech Support Scam: Cybercriminals pose as tech support professionals and claim your computer has a virus or other issues that require immediate attention. They will ask for remote access to your device where they can locate personal and financial information to steal your identity. They may request a credit card number to charge you for their bogus services. Never give remote access or credit card information to anyone who initiates a call to you.
At The Trust Company, we use 2-step verification to help protect your data and assets. Be proactive in protecting yourself by following the steps above and remember, we are always here to help you.
Report a scam at www.usa.gov/features/five-tips-for-reporting-a-scam