2023 was a very good year for many of my clients; however, there was one common issue that reared its ugly head one too many times - FRAUD. I can’t tell you how many times very smart clients were either victims of fraud or almost victims of fraud. The most common types of fraud that I have seen recently are:
Email takeover - Fraudsters create emails that look legitimate but are actually fake. These fake emails contain a link that when clicked grants the fraudster immediate access to that individual’s computer and sensitive information, like usernames and passwords. From there, bank and other personal accounts can easily be accessed.
Fake checks - Criminals create fake checks using stolen bank account numbers. Sometimes new counterfeit checks are produced, but other times real checks are stolen out of the mail, “washed” to remove the ink, and rewritten to a new payee or even for a different dollar amount. Be mindful of this when sending and receiving checks.
Phone scams – These usually involve a criminal that calls pretending to be someone from the IRS or from a large technology company (names we all would recognize).
In the case of the IRS, they threaten that money is owed to the IRS and that the individual must immediately make a payment by wire or else they will be fined and/or arrested. This can lead to funds being sent directly to the fraudster’s account.
In the case of the technology company, they convince an individual that their computer needs a software update and end up gaining access to the computer and the sensitive information it contains.
Hackers and fraudsters are getting extremely clever which means we all need to do a better job protecting our bank accounts and personal information.
Here’s what I have been recommending to my clients:
- Sign up for a credit monitoring and/or identity theft protection service. There are several good options out there and even though there is normally a monthly service fee, it is well worth it.
- Monitor your bank accounts daily, and promptly report any suspicious activity. The bank can quickly research and return any unauthorized transactions. Also, most mobile banking apps have a feature to immediately shut down your debit card if you see unfamiliar transactions.
- Be extremely careful when sending wire transfers. Make sure you know who the recipient is, and double check the wire instructions in person before sending any money.
- Change your online banking passwords often, and when offered, use multi-factor authentication.
Please contact us at (262) 549-8500 anytime you suspect fraud. There are measures that can be put into place to protect your money. Let’s all be safe with our bank accounts in 2024!
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