Do not panic, but be aware. You could lose some or all your hard-earned and saved money to scammers. Retired Americans are targeted by scammers more than any other group. One of the reasons is, they are more likely to have assets and, they can be more trusting. There is also the issue of brain cognition, the older we get. You MUST be on guard, always. Fraud can be and often is committed by people the victims know, like friends, neighbors, members of social and religious institutions, and even people they’ve done business with before. In addition to these 7 typical ways retirees are scammed, it is maybe even more important to know that many unfortunate retirees have had their retirement accounts wiped out via wire fraud, email scams and sundry other fraudulent actions.
It seems there are more and more ways scammers come up with to scam us too. NEVER, ever give anyone account ‘type’ information without first verifying who they are via another method. A phone call for example, utilizing a phone number you get on your own, not one given by the potential scammer. These devious people are getting better and better at covering the ways they are found out. Anyone’s email could be hacked, hijacked or mimicked. It is called email phishing. There are two types, ‘spear phishing’ and whale phishing’. Oh… and you are the bait! You may think you are communicating with me, or your financial institution, including retirement account managers, mortgage lenders etc. Even the government’s computers have been hacked, as you well know. Be careful of email and USPS mail requests from IRS and other government agencies asking for information. Verify, verify and verify. Scary, I know. If you suspect you may be, or have been targeted for fraud, immediately contact authorities.
Avoiding Phishing Scams
To guard against phishing scams, consider the following:
- Greenline Associates and other reputable organizations will never use email to request that you reply with your password, full Social Security number, or confidential personal information. Be suspicious of any email message that asks you to enter or verify personal information, through a website or by replying to the message itself. Never reply to or click the links in such a message. If you think the message may be legitimate, go directly to the company’s website (i.e., type the real URL into your browser) or contact the company to see if you really do need to take the action described in the email message.
- The safest practice is to read your email as plain text.
Phishing messages often contain clickable images that look legitimate; by reading messages in plain text, you can see the URLs that any images point to. Additionally, when you allow your mail client to read HTML or other non-text-only formatting, attackers can take advantage of your mail client’s ability to execute code, which leaves your computer vulnerable to viruses, worms, and Trojans.
- If you choose to read your email in HTML format:
• Hover your mouse over the links in each email message to display the actual URL. Check whether the hover-text link matches what’s in the text, and whether the link looks like a site with which you would normally do business.
On an iOS device, tap and hold your finger over a link to display the URL. Unfortunately, Android does not currently support this.
• Before you click a link, check to see if the message sender used a digital signature when sending the message. A digital signature helps ensure that the message actually came from the sender.
When you recognize a phishing message, first report it, and then delete the email message from your Inbox, and then empty it from the deleted items folder to avoid accidentally accessing the websites it points to.