Ep. 114 – Protect Against Identity Theft and Fraud

Have you ever been concerned about identity theft or being a fraud victim? In today’s cyberworld, identity theft and fraud have become more sophisticated than ever before. 

It is important that you stay aware and protected to avoid being on the receiving end of these cybercrimes. 

In this episode of the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we share a checklist that we created about how to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud. We cover why you should always be suspicious when it comes to emails and calls you receive related to your financial information. 

In this episode, find out:

  • Consider tweaking your passwords to look different on different sites and even get a password manager. 
  • Check if two-factor authentication is available when logging in, especially into financial sites.
  • Consider differentiating your passwords’ themes on different sites. 
  • Be careful when sharing your password. 
  • Get updated software and antiviruses on your computer.
  • Be careful about clicking on unsolicited emails and attachments that come with them.
  • Be careful about the information you put on social media.  
  • Be wary of seemingly family or friends’ emails that they wouldn’t normally send you. 
  • The steps to take to protect yourself if a related company gets hacked.
  • Some huge red flag calls to avoid interacting with.  

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Where the risk is you making a mistake and allowing somebody to get to that data.”– Radon Stancil 
  • “Emails are getting hacked all the time and they use that as a way to get in touch with the address book that’s within that email, so be very careful about someone you think you know may not be that someone you think you know.”– Murs Tariq


If you are in or nearing retirement and you want to gain clarity on what questions you should be asking, learn what the biggest retirement myths are, and identify what you can do to achieve peace of mind for your retirement, get started today by requesting our complimentary video course, Four Steps to Secure Your Retirement!

To access the course, simply visit POMWealth.net/podcast.

Here’s the Full Transcript:

Radon Stancil :Welcome everyone to Retirement in Action. And today, Murs and I want to talk to you and discuss this idea of protecting yourself against a scam, a fraud, identity being stolen. And a lot of times I think that, well, first of all, we know this, the people that are scamming, the people that are committing fraud on people, they are getting more and more sophisticated. And I will say this right up front, and we’re going to walk you through some items that I think are really, really important. But the thing is, I think most of the time it takes us just slowing down. That’s 99% of the problem. We’re so used to clicking into things. We’re so used to answering, pushing a button, getting a reply. And a lot of times, if we just slowed down, we’ll prevent a lot of these things we’re going to talk about. But I want to share a couple of stories with you, and then we’re going to walk you through what we have built, which is a checklist to help you think these things through.  
 I’ll give you two stories. One, we had a client who from our perspective, sent us an email. And in that email, it said to send them money to a very specific account that we knew, but looking at our system, we knew that account existed. But we called the client before we do it because our protocol is we never, ever will send money, do a transaction based on an email. We called the client. Come to find out that they never sent that email. Somebody had hacked into their email, started reading their email. So then they knew different people in their lives. They knew their financial advisor. They knew their insurance person. They knew their mortgage. They knew all these different things. Now they didn’t have information, but they started sending emails out to these contacts, hoping that somebody might reply back to them and get that process started.  
 So, that protocol of not taking any action says, okay, well it protected that person. They were able to change their password on their email. They actually pressed or went to get an investigation through the authorities. Actually found the person, the person was a neighbor down the street, or at least somebody who was living in the neighborhood and had basically went through their trash and they got their stuff. So now I say that story to say this, you think about it. We took that action on our side. Well, you could take action on your side. Number one, never ask for money via an email. If you have that protocol and you talk to your advisors, that’s one step right there. And then we’re going to talk about many more. And I’ll tell you another one real quick before we turn it over here and let Murs start kind of going through some things.  
 This is one of the ones that I thought, wow, this one almost tripped me up. I got a call and the phone call at first said they were from Duke Energy, which is my energy company that I use for my home. And they said, you’re about to be disconnected. Now I knew quickly in my head, I was out of town and I knew quickly, I do auto pay. I don’t write a check. I don’t send it. I know it gets paid every month, but before I thought, because it says, press here. You’re going to be disconnected in one hour. I was out of town. My wife and kids are at home. I said, okay, let me just, I pressed it really fast. And then it came on and I just thought for a second, wait a minute, this isn’t right.  
 So I asked a question or two to the person that says it was going to be disconnected. And I said, this isn’t right and I hung up. Come to find out it was a scam. I do auto pay, but what they were trying to do is just see if I would give them a credit card to pay this delinquent bill that they created. So they are getting more, and more, and more sophisticated. So we want to take you through some ideas, so you don’t get scammed, you don’t have those problems, but it’s going to take you being alert. So let’s get started.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. So we’ve come up with a checklist, like Radon said of things just to be thinking about as we navigate the world of the internet that we are in of cell phones, of smartphone, smart TVs, everything that we have that is so cyber connected. And that’s where we’re seeing a lot of the threats coming in places, a place where you go and type in a password, or a place where you go and you click on a link, or you’re receiving emails. So I just want to take you through a few of these and some may seem like they’re common sense. Some may seem like, well, I didn’t really think about that. Let me go and check. And that’s the whole purpose of this episode today. And so some of the common cyber threats that we’re seeing right now, and I’m just going to run you through this checklist, basically the biggest one and I know it’s a convenience aspect and something that we have to learn to manage better. I think everyone does, but the question is, do you use the same password to log into multiple websites?  
 We hate changing our password. We hate all the little specifics that every company requires when it comes to creating a password with them. And so a lot of times we just say, well, if I can have one password for every little single thing, that’s going to make my life easier. Well, it also makes that fraudsters or that hacker’s life a lot easier too. So consider if you log into multiple places, making tweaks on that password in different directions, at the very least. There’s also a ton of different password managers out there. Not saying that you should use one, but they are out there.  
 They’ve got quite a bit of security to them as well, and they can help you generate passwords or help you store passwords in a very secure way. So just think about that rather than just trying to go the easy route of using one for 10 to 20 different websites and 20 is a small number. I mean, think about all the things that we log into these days that require a login. So just something to think about there.  
 Another one that’s become more and more prevalent, especially when you’re logging into a financial institution is do you need to review if you’re using two factor authentication to log into websites. So I’m going to explain what this is. Say your logging into your bank or to your brokerage account, you put in your username and you put in your standard password and you hit enter and then it takes you to another screen. And immediately what happens is it says we are going to use a second layer of authentication and we’re going to do one of two things usually, the company’s going to send a code to your cell phone, or they’re going to send a code to your email, or they may even call your house with a code audioly given to you.  
 So that’s a second layer and that code is different every single time that you log in. That is a little bit newer in the sense of, in the last five years, that’s become very, very, more prevalent with a lot of the financial institutions. Not everything is going to require this. Not everything even has the option to do this, but I would just check with every place that you log in, Hey, is two factor available, two factor authentication. That can add another layer of security. So even if someone has your password, well, they would have to have your cell phone or access to your email to get that code to log in. When it comes to creating the password, are you using the same phrases or the same themes behind your passwords? So are you using the same person, or the same anniversary date, or same name of a pet, or whatever it is. So consider differentiating that.  
 A big one here. Do you share your login credentials with other people? That is always a no-no if you would say, I’m speaking in the tone, how I talk to my son every now and then. He’s one and a half. That’s definitely a no-no. That you don’t want to be sharing your password. And there’s ways out there that you can share a password without actually giving the password to them. So that’s kind of with those password managers, once again.  
 When it comes to antivirus software and your overall operating system, you always want to make sure that you’re updated. The updates that come with, say your windows and everything like that, make sure that is always updated. Also, if you have an antivirus, make sure that’s always renewed and always updated as well. Because it’s always working in the background to make sure nothing crazy is going on.  
 This one is huge as far as emails, unsolicited emails asking you to click on a link or even bigger, downloaded an attachment. If you get an email from someone that you don’t know or an email from someone that you don’t know that has a link in it, or has an attachment in it, be very careful about clicking on that link and even more so be very careful about clicking on that attachment. With the attachments and the links, it’s very possible for the fraudster on the other end to immediately gain access to your computer. So you want to be sure about it as to who it’s coming from. And if you’re unsure, I would just delete that right away. And you can always contact, if it’s coming from a company, you can contact that company and say, Hey, did you guys send this email? Am I okay to open it?  
Radon Stancil :I just want to say one thing on that too. They can actually mimic what looks like it’s coming from the company. You can see things now coming from what looks like Amazon, what looks like Apple, what looks like another company that you might work with. But if you’re getting something that says you need to download the document and you’ve not talked to anybody that right there should be suspicious within itself. I got an email from a company that we worked with. We had hired them to help us do some items. Hadn’t worked with them now for a few months and they said, Hey, here’s a document that you need to download. Well, to me, that was suspicious. Why am I randomly getting a document? So I called and I said, Hey, did you send me this email? And do I need to do this download? They said, Nope, we got hacked. And that was sent out to everybody.  
 So again, I think what you got to realize is just be suspicious. Right now I’m getting text all the time from what’s appearing to be Amazon. And what it says is, Hey, if you want to track this whatever product that you ordered online, you can do this if you want. Well, I don’t want to do that if I don’t know about it. So unless they told me and I know I’m going to get it right there while I’m in the log and it says it’s coming from Amazon, I don’t mess with those because it’s just a lot of phishing going on on there. I’ll hit this one and I’ll give it back to you Murs, is the social media sites. Be careful about what you put on, like your Facebook, your Instagram, and what you have out there.  
 Because if you put your name, your date of birth, your address, I mean that right there is a lot that a person can use to mimic you. You give them your email and all four of those, there’s just a ton there that they can do to try to mimic you and get through a lot of different things. More and more institutions are doing more and more authentication themselves before they’ll give you information and it might feel irritating, but realize everyone is battling this idea of hacking. Now don’t confuse what we’re talking about today with this hacking idea, my data in a bank or my data at an institution is at risk. That data is pretty safe. Where the risk is, is us making a mistake. You making a mistake and allowing somebody to get to that data. The data’s there on the web. It’s there. Whether you participate or not, it’s there. So you’re just trying to protect yourself to make sure you don’t make mishaps and you don’t make mistakes before you go through that. So anyway, you can continue on Murs.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. Another easy one to make a mistake on is you get an email from a friend, or a family member, or a neighbor, whoever it is and they’re asking you to click on a link or they’re saying something that they normally wouldn’t say in an email, just be wary of that. Think about the last time that they may have emailed you. If they don’t email you often, all of a sudden you get one and there’s a special request in there. What’s nice about this one is that if you know other person, you can call them up. Call them up and say, Hey, I just got this email from you. And very likely, they’re going to say, whoa, I had no idea, or they’re going to say, I just found out about this too. And I have been hacked. So be sure not to click on that link. Emails are getting hacked all the time. And they use that as a way to get in touch with the address book that’s within that email. So be very careful about someone that you think you know, and may not be the person that you think you know.  
Radon Stancil :I was going to say on that one right there, there’s actually one of these that says it’s called the grandparent scam. And this is crazy to me, but think about it. If they read your email and they find out, because you say something in there that they know your grandson or your granddaughter’s name. And maybe you’ve not talked to them for a little bit. Maybe they can get a younger person that can mimic that person a little bit and they call you up and say, Hey, this is Cindy. Hey grandma. And then they ask you for money. You need to basically always be… Now that sounds crazy, but if by hanging up and calling the person back, you kind of break that. Or if it’s in an email is really where it’s going to come about. So I just thought that one to me just shows you how good they’re getting at all these different scams.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. And going with the grandchildren or children, if you have minor children, there’s a lot of things that all websites have put into place for basically privacy policies and privacy settings that can be added, particularly in the social media landscape. You can limit how much a minor has access to or how much they can search within certain search engines and everything like that. So the less they can do in there, the less information they can put out there. So just something to be thinking about with minors, grandchildren, and children.  
 And then the last one, a major of our checklist here, when it comes to cyber threats is, and we’ve seen this happen over the years, a company gets hacked, right? We’ve heard of some of the credit companies being hacked and a lot of information being breached. And so if that does happen, there are things that you can do. And you don’t really know if you were affected or not, but there that you can do. One is you can freeze your credit by contacting the credit bureaus to kind of take a first step to say, it’s possible I was exposed. Let me take action to freeze and actually figure out if I was really exposed.  
 And then changing passwords, changing passwords should be a practice that is used quite often, but it’s just, once again, it comes down to convenience. But if you change your password every now and then anyone that did have it, now they do not have it. So just a few things to consider when it comes to cyber threats. Radon’s kind of already go on over some of the common scams that he has experienced himself, but there’s quite a few out there. So Radon, you want to take us through a couple of those?  
Radon Stancil :Yeah. I think that as far as making sure that you just think these through, because we’re not trying to scare you by the way. Just like in the days of having paper, you now might get it all emailed attachment. We started shredding stuff. We didn’t throw it in the trashcan. So that’s all we’re doing here is just saying, be careful of these things. Real quickly, here’s some things that you might think about when it comes to this. Number one, if you ever get a phone call from the Social Security Administration, that’s a scam. You never get a phone call from the Social Security Administration. You ever get a call from the IRS, that’s a scam. You never get a phone call from the IRS. These are some simple ones.  
 You get a call from somebody saying you won money. You might’ve won money, but probably not. So it’s probably a scam. Okay. So don’t ever, even if you get those calls… By the way, here’s another really common one. They call you and say, Hey, this Microsoft, we think your platform has been tampered with. We need to help get into your system and fix it. That’s extremely common. They will go in and they’ll get all your information. Just if you get calls, you get something coming towards you that sounds fishy, just say, look, no problem. I’ll call you back. Then go look up the official number and call back in.  
 Credit card saying, Hey, we’ve got some fraud activity. We need to verify you. I always call them back. I don’t ever accept those calls. And that can be legit by the way, where they’re trying to check in on you. I always say, stop the call, call them back. Because now you can call back and if it’s legit, when you call are going to say, yes, we see here, there’s been some activity that we need to verify. So it’s a little extra step, but it keeps you safe. Receiving phone calls about financial stuff, probably something you need to be careful about. At least be alert.  
 I just want to say this before we close. None of this is to scare you. It is to prepare you. We have built a checklist that goes through all of these items that you can just go through one by one, question yourself, double check yourself, make sure you’re safe. If you want that, just call the office (919) 787-8866. Ask for Morgan or Laura, and they’ll make sure they can send this out to you so you can have your own copy and just kind of work through these items. We know that we have sent a lot out there today in this message. So just do that. Also, there’s a blog article written on this particular topic on our website, pomwealth.net/blog. And you can go through all these items that we just talked through. We hope you have a great day. We’ll talk to you next week.  
 We hope this video has given you some confidence and clarity as you plan for a worry free life in retirement. But what else do you need? We have created a complimentary video course called 3 Keys To Secure Your Retirement. This video walks you through step by out what you need to do to get ready for retirement. You can also check out our podcast called Secure Your Retirement. You can subscribe below.