5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Financial Scams
Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. While you can’t always prevent financial scams from targeting you, you can take steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Here are five tips to protect yourself from financial scams.
Tip #1: Think Twice before Providing Sensitive Information of Any Kind
When you are asked to provide any sensitive information, understand why it is needed, what it will be used for, and how the information will be disposed of when it is no longer needed for its intended purpose. If you are asked to provide sensitive information on a website, a tip is to ensure that there is a padlock icon displayed in the web browser indicating that the website you are currently browsing is secured with a digital certificate.
Tip #2: Shred Any Trash that May Contain Sensitive Information
Make it a customary practice to shred trash with your name on it. For example, your mail may contain information about you, including your name, address, payment information and more, that scammers can use to take advantage of you. A tip is to shred these items, if they no longer hold importance to you, prior to tossing them out. Items can include, but are not limited to, pictures and old IDs, travel itineraries, boarding passes, shipping labels, old bank statements, cancelled cheques, and even post-it notes on which you may have temporarily recorded your sensitive information.
Tip #3: Keep Tabs on Your Bank and Credit Card Transactions
Scammers may run several smaller fraudulent charges to test if you’re paying attention to your transactions before they hit you with a larger charge. Habitually monitoring your transactions can help you recognize fraudulent ones quickly. A tip is to set up a transactions alert with your bank (offered by most banks) that can help you stay informed any time your credit card is used.
Tip #4: Be Careful of “Spoofing”
Spoofing is when someone pretends to be someone else in an attempt to gain trust to get access to sensitive information or take some form of action. This can come in many forms including email spoofing, caller ID spoofing, text message spoofing, among others. A tip for email spoofing is to check the email address of the sender prior to responding or taking action. Similarly, a tip for caller ID and text message spoofing is to avoid answering phone calls or replying to text messages from unknown numbers. If you did not initiate the email, call, or text conversation, it is best practice to not give out any sensitive information.
Tip #5: Beware of Messages from Sources Disguised as Government Services
Beware of messages from sources disguised as government services as this could be an attempt to gain access to your financial information. The Government of Canada provides helpful guidelines to identify some of these common scams. These include, but may not be limited to, messages claiming to be from Service Canada or 1-800 O-Canada, from the Canada Revenue Agency, from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and from the Canada Border Services Agency. The Government of Canada also provides helpful information on the types of scams and fraud impersonating government services you may wish to be informed about.
The 5 tips above are only some of ways you can reduce exposure to financial scams or avoid them altogether. Always take the time to assess the situation because scammers often rely on their victims acting fast and thoughtlessly.
Prior to taking action, you can always ask a trusted friend or family member to get their opinion of the situation, or if possible contact the original person who reached out to you if you have his or her contact information using a platform different from the one on which you receive the suspicious message (e.g. if you received an email that worries you, call or text the person it purports to be from). Additionally, you can conduct a Google search to see if others have experienced the same scam.
At Bloom Investment Counsel, Inc., we take our responsibilities for safeguarding our clients’ privacy, the confidentiality of clients’ personal information, and wealth protection very seriously. We manage our clients’ wealth with this same integrity and have been committed to protecting, preserving, and building clients’ wealth since our establishment in 1985. Our long-standing clients include wealthy individuals and families, family offices, foundations, corporations, institutions and trusts who speak to our commitment and ability to protect, preserve and build their wealth throughout the test of time.
This content is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, tax, legal or accounting advice nor does it constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities referred to. Individual circumstances and current events are critical to sound investment planning; anyone wishing to act on this content should consult with his or her financial partner or advisor.