Ep. 120 – How To Protect Against Being Scammed

Scamming is increasingly becoming more creative and more sophisticated than ever before. How then do you stay informed and protected from any possible scam?

Even as you actively plan your retirement, it is important you stay informed and protected from scammers/fraudsters that can cause major damage to your retirement investment.

In this episode of the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we talk about scamming in 2021 and share 4 tips on how you can protect yourself from scammers. We also cover a few ways you can take action to ensure you’re back to safety if a scam/fraud happens to you.

In this episode, find out:

·      How scamming is getting creative and using names of big companies that you think you can trust.

·      Understand that the IRS will never call you, only write you.

·      Statistics on scam incidents in 2020/21 and the impact it has had.

·      How the pandemic opened more creative ways to get scammed.

·      Never click on a link in an email or text unless you’re expecting it.

·      Access your account through the business’s website or call them first before responding to a suspicious email.

·      Stop and take a minute if you get a call asking for financial information.

·      Have your credit cards and online transactions monitored for fraud alerts.

·      Immediately close or put a hold on your bank accounts from retailers you use.

·      Notify all three credit reporting agencies and put a freeze on your credit.

·      Change your password on all your accounts to stop the scammers.

·      Be vigilant and use your past scamming incidents as a lesson to move forward better.

·      Contact the authorities to get to the bottom of the issue.

Tweetable Quotes:

·      “One of the reasons scammers are being so successful is that people are ashamed they’re actually being scammed.”– Radon Stancil

·      “Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in, the scammers are getting very creative, and it happens every single day.”– 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 our Retirement in Action. And today on our podcast, we are going to revisit a topic that we had just a couple of weeks ago around this idea of scams and how we need to be protected. And what prompted this is an article that came up actually on MarketWatch. And the title of the article was Phishing Emails, Text And Calls Scamming Is Getting Worse, so stay up on the latest cons. And some of the statistics and some of the amounts of money that have been lost are alarming. And so what we wanted to do is just kind of talk to you a little bit about this again. We think it’s such a prevalent thing that we believe that it’s worth us going back through this particular topic. And we’ll talk about some of the things that were brought up in this article.  
 But in this article it tells a story about a lady who basically got taken by a scamster who said, hey, by the way your PayPal, she gets a phone call. And on that phone call, she says, your PayPal account has been basically hacked, and so we need to get some things taken care of on that. And the lady then is concerned and she’s like, oh my goodness, this can’t be right. And she just fell right into it. Because she thought she was talking to PayPal. Well, as she’s going through this whole process, come to find out she had to move some money from her account, her bank account. And so this money moves over, and all of a sudden it goes downhill from there. But the whole purpose of what we want to talk about is think about what we’re saying here. This was somebody posing as PayPal. Now Murs is going to pick the story up and kind of tell us a couple of situations that we’re going to learn through this and really what the person did and how this lady got taken advantage of.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. So one of the big things that happens here is the scamster on the other end of the line, he was essentially able to remote into her computer and basically convince her that the only way that I can help you fix this is I need to remote into your computer so I can have access. And in the article it says they spent two and a half hours together in this remote situation. I mean, just think about that. Two and a half hours is a very, very long time and one that you don’t want to be spending with, even if it’s a legitimate thing, you don’t want to be spending that much time trying to figure something out. It can be very painstaking, but think about what can be done in two and a half hours. She basically relinquished her bank account information. He was able to get her Social Security number and then think about all the different passwords that you have stored on your computer, on your web browser.  
 Eventually she became suspicious and asked to speak with the manager and of course there’s a manager available. So the other person gets on the line. They’re all working in teams here in this whole scam. And she the whole time is thinking that she’s talking to PayPal and they really have her best interests here. Eventually-  
Radon Stancil:Yeah. Before you continue, I just want to make sure I do a little bit. I probably didn’t do quite as good as set up. When he called her, he said, “Hey, somebody else has accessed your PayPal. And they actually took $500 out of your account.” So it sounded like he had called to help her. So now Murs is helping us tie it together. Why would she have spent two and a half hours? By the way, she’s a retired business owner. So this is not some lady who would normally be taken advantage of, but she just all of a sudden she’s going, oh my goodness, somebody else has actually gotten access to my account. So in her brain, this guy’s there to help her. And that’s what he’s portraying.  
Murs Tariq:Right. So he’s working with her. And then it leads to him asking her to install an app on her phone. So now they’re going from the computer, all the things that are on her computer, going to another object where we store everything. So now installing this app on her phone immediately gives the scamster access to her phone. And then she sees a transaction come through immediately for $340. He basically says, don’t worry about it. And then he tells her to get the refund. Now I need you to go to Walmart and buy a $500 gift card to get your money back. And so at that point, after two and a half hours of remote work, after downloading an app into her phone is when she’s like, all right, I figured out what’s going on and this is not good. And so that’s when she ends the call.  
 And in the article she quotes when she’s talking to the person who wrote the article, she says, “I felt so stupid, inept and violated.” And we see this, unfortunately this is the world that we live in. The scamsters are getting very, very creative and it happens every single day. There’s been situations across, I mean, this is one thing from PayPal, a big company like PayPal and you think you can trust, but it’s happened in various other massive companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, and even bigger. And I think Radon has a story here around Social Security Administration and the IRS. You can get phone calls from them as well. So I know you have a situation that you’ve either heard of with the IRS calling people or the Social Security Administration. So give us a story there.  
Radon Stancil:I mean, I’ve gotten multiple calls myself where somebody will call and that’ll say, basically, you didn’t have submitted something to the tax IRS. And so you need to talk to an administrative person immediately. We’re going to transfer you now. And if you don’t have this taken care of within the next 24 hours you’re going to get arrested. And then basically what they do is they go through this whole scenario of all the things that you’ve done that’s fraudulent, and maybe it’s a mistake. We can get this cleared up. And what are they going to need? They need to verify your Social Security number. And so any time by the way, rules of thumb here, the IRS never, ever will call you. That is not going to ever happen. They will write you. You can call them, but they’re never going to call you.  
 Another popular one that we’re seeing right now is with Amazon. When I say that, not the actual company but the scamster, they’ll send you a text and say, “You need to click this link to track your package.” And that is uncommon. I’m not saying you can’t do that with Amazon, but I know that there is a huge scam going on right now with that. Because what it’s going to do is take you to another place, and it’s going to ask you to put into this scenario your Amazon credentials, your username and password. So you want to be very, very careful about that.  
 But here’s some statistics just to kind of let you know why this is such a big deal. The Federal Trade Commission says it’s received more than 2.1 million fraud reports in 2020. 2.1 million. They said, that’s up 24% from 2019. Here’s the losses, $3.3 billion in losses, 67,000 tax related scams in just the first half of 2021. The FBI says there’s a 69% increase in cybercrimes between 2019 and 2020. So that’s why we’re talking about this again. This is huge. It’s continuing to grow. A big part of what they say this is all about is the pandemic. More people are at home, the scammers have more access. And so that is a huge part of it. But you want to handle this part here, Murs, about why it’s growing and what’s going on there?  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. And think about it, the pandemic put us in a very unique situation where you had a segment of the population that really didn’t care for technology, really didn’t care about the internet or anything like that. But all of a sudden we were forced to adopt the technology. And while technology is great, you got to know what you’re using. And so all of a sudden, you’ve got way more people that are using the internet, that are using Google, that are using Amazon, because they have to be able to get groceries to the house. You don’t want to go out to the grocery store. So all of a sudden huge opportunities for scamsters came into play. And one of the statistics is that people in their seventies and eighties are one of the most vulnerable because of a couple of reasons, not using the technology very frequently. And also they tend to be a little bit more trusting, and usually they have a very stable credit. So a lot of credit lines are being opened very quickly and easily without anyone knowing. So the pandemic really made the scamsters get very creative.  
 It used to be you could see an email come into your Gmail or whatever it is, and know very quickly that whoever is writing this email doesn’t know how to write. And you can tell that this doesn’t look right and just delete it. Now, it looks like Amazon wrote it. Or it looks like Apple wrote. It looks very well put together and they use the logos perfectly. And so you just got to be very careful when we’re in the world that we are in, in 2021 right now. And so we’ve got a couple of pieces of advice here. We’ve got advice here on how to avoid getting scammed. And then also a couple pieces as to if you do unfortunately happen to get scammed some tips as far as what to do. So how do we avoid getting scammed, Radon?  
Radon Stancil:I’m going to go through that. I wanted to just to say one thing before we go through this checklist or items that you need to think about. One of the reasons why it says scamsters are being so successful is that people are ashamed that they actually got scammed. The person we just told a story about, she said she felt so stupid that she allowed that to happen. Because looking back she’s like, I saw the red flags. I just didn’t think about it quick enough. And so it says, only one in four victims who are scammed will tell somebody that they were scammed because they’re just ashamed of it. So just keep that in mind when we go through these different topics here.  
 So we’re going to talk about the first one here, how to avoid getting scammed. There’s four things to help us to avoid getting scammed. So take note of these. Never click on a link in an email or text unless you’re expecting it from someone you know. If you don’t know the sender, it’s best not to click on it at all. Now that’s very difficult sometimes because we’re in the middle of stuff and our fingers are so good at clicking that we just we start clicking sometimes before we even think. So you have to slow down. Slow down, don’t click until you really understand. And here’s a little tip that I do if I see it, and I think it’s even somebody I know, I go click on their email address to see if it’s really them. Because you’ll see at whatever they’re at. So if it’s Radonstancil@gmail.com, a scamster could come across and say Radon Stancil and then you look at it and it’s at some weird thing that you’ve never heard of. So go check out where it’s from just before you start clicking. You want to hit number two?  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. So number two is, before responding to an email from a company, go to the business’s website and access your account there, or call the number directly from the site and speak to someone about what the email said. So in her case it was PayPal, right? And so the person called and basically said that you’ve been hacked. Well, what she may have done instead is, well, thank you for the information. Let me go log into my account at paypal.com and I’ll double check myself. And so from there, you can very quickly see if there are transactions made or not.  
 And then also every website, every vendor custodian is always going to have their 800 number plastered all over the website that you know, that works well. And so you can always call them up and say, is there anything fishy going on with my account? Were there any transactions placed recently that I’m not aware of? And they’ll take you through it. All companies, especially dealing with money, have teams in place now for all of this fraud that is happening. So they know very quickly how to identify things and they know how to help you through that.  
Radon Stancil:All right. Number three, if you get a call asking for financial information, stop and take a minute. Here’s what they want. They want to scare you. So tell them you want to hang up and do more research. That’s going to stop it right there. No, I need to go check it out. I’ll give you one quick story. I got a call that says, your power’s going to be turned off in the next hour if you don’t make a payment. Well, I was traveling. I knew that didn’t sound right because I do automatic payments. And as soon as I said, “I do automatic payments,” the guy hung up. So you got to slow down. All right, number four.  
Murs Tariq:This one is huge. And it’s very available. It’s easy to do, which is sign up for fraud alerts on your credit cards and bank accounts. Almost every credit card that I have that I’ve heard of, they all have these now where they monitor your credit card. They monitor transactions that are made under your Social and everything like that. And if something weird happens, they’ll let you know about it. So I think it’s a no-brainer. Most of us have credit cards these days, and you should use the services that come with them, which is fraud alerts, and they can keep you ahead of the game.  
Radon Stancil:All right, now we’re going to transition. What should you do if you or a loved one have been scammed? There’s five items. We’re just going to go through these pretty quick. There’s not a lot of explanation, but just make note of these. Number one, immediately close or put holds on your bank accounts and accounts from retailers you use.  
Murs Tariq:Number two is notify all three credit reporting agencies. That’s Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and put a freeze on your credit. They’re also going to have a best practice for you too, as well if you’ve been hacked.  
Radon Stancil:Number three, change your passwords. Now this one’s going to hurt because nobody likes changing their passwords, but changing your passwords on your email account, on your credit cards, all those things just change them because that’s going to stop them in their tracks.  
Murs Tariq:Number four, be vigilant. So if it’s happened to you before, if you’ve been the victim of a scam or a fraud before, very likely your information is out there, and very likely they know that you are susceptible so they’re not going to stop coming at you. So just be vigilant. Learn from what happened in that previous one, and take that with you and just always be aware of what’s going on around you.  
Radon Stancil:All right. Very good. And then number five, contact the authorities. You can actually find locations. You can call the police. You can actually call the FBI, and you are able to ask about what’s going on. You can do a little bit of research. That’s really big, making sure you reach out, because if we don’t reach out, you’re not going to have this be ever looked at. These people can continue to do what they have been doing for all this time.  
 So the lady we told you about was a hard lesson. The good part of the story, it was $340. Not going to make it so she can’t continue to be in retirement, but nobody wants to have this happen even if it’s only $340. So keep that in mind, make sure that you are careful about what you talk about in email form. I know here at our firm, we will not take any instructions or act on any instructions via email. We always have to call. So if a person calls us or emails us and says, “I need this done,” we have to pick up the phone and call the person, verify that we’re talking to the right person. And then we can take care of the transaction. So make sure that you realize the financial institutions, your financial advisor, we are making sure we’re safe. You make sure you’re safe. We hope this has been helpful. We look forward to talking to you again next week.