Knowledge Is Power: Protect Yourself From Financial Fraud
Financial fraud generally falls into one of the following basic categories: identity theft, investment fraud, mortgage fraud, and mass marketing; but within each category the variety of schemes and methods is almost endless.
Phone calls, emails, false documents, fake sales pitches, seminars…the list goes on. In the age of technology, access to potential victims becomes greater, and the methods used get harder and harder for the everyday person to detect. The single best way to guard against financial fraud is to empower yourself with knowledge. We consulted with a few local professionals who were willing to share some tips on ways to protect yourself. Be safe out there!
John Arnaz, broker with Arnaz Financial Inc. in Folsom, offers the following tips:
1) Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
2) Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand. Don't be pressured.
3) Never give out personal information—including your Social Security number, account number, or other financial information—to anyone over the phone, unless you initiated the call from a known number.
4) Be careful clicking on any links in emails. This applies even if it’s from someone you know or a company you do business with. You can call the sender over the phone to verify validity. You can also hover over the sender's address to see if it's different than it should be.
Gina Swankie, public affairs specialist with the FBI Sacramento Field Office, offers the following tips:
1) Shred credit card receipts and old bank statements.
2) Close unused credit card or bank accounts.
3) Do not give out personal information via the phone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
4) Never respond to an offer you don’t understand.
5) Talk over investments with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
6) Require all plans and purchases to be in writing.
7) Do not pay in advance for services.
8) Do not pay for services over prepaid/gift cards; legitimate services will not request payment via prepaid/gift cards. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center estimates that in 2018, victims over 60 years of age lost $21 million from scams requesting payment with prepaid/gift cards.
9) Resist the urge to act quickly or secretly, which are frequent tactics used by scammers.
10) Register your home and cell phone numbers with the “Do Not Call List Registry” (donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222; call from the phone you want to register) to decrease the amount of telemarketing calls you receive; keep in mind, however, this will only stop (most) legitimate telemarketing calls—not criminals.