In today’s fast-paced digital world, investors are more vulnerable than ever to a wide array of financial scams and social engineering tactics. This is something that we think about regularly at Rockwood but have not yet articulated in our newsletter. These pesky financial scams can have real– sometimes devastating – consequences for those who fall into these hidden traps. Since keeping your hard-earned money safe is a top priority for your advisory team, we wanted to outline some common scams and best practices to help you avoid falling victim to them, as well as a few things we do on our end to help safeguard your money.
How do some of these common scams look?
Phishing attacks remain a prevalent threat to investors. Scammers use deceptive emails, messages, or websites that appear legitimate to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information like login credentials or personal details. They often pose as trusted financial institutions or investment platforms. To protect yourself, always verify the sender’s legitimacy, double-check website URLs, and avoid clicking suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Impersonation scams are when fraudsters impersonate trusted individuals, such as financial advisors or attorneys, to gain investors’ trust. They may contact you through email, phone, or social media, requesting confidential information or persuading you to make impulsive investment decisions. Always verify the identity of anyone requesting financial information and be cautious of any unsolicited advice.
Social engineering attacks manipulate investors into revealing sensitive information. Common techniques include pretexting (creating a fabricated scenario to obtain information) and baiting (enticing victims with free offers). Be vigilant when sharing personal or financial information, especially in unfamiliar or unexpected situations.
OK, so what can I do to protect myself?
Be skeptical: When you receive unsolicited calls or messages, do not share any personal information, especially when the person contacting you purports to be from your financial institution. If the person requests sensitive information or demands urgent action, do not act. Scammers often use psychological manipulation to create a sense of urgency. Remember, neither your Rockwood advisory team nor your custodian will EVER reach out to you for login credentials.
Verify identities: Make sure that you know the identity of the person or organization with whom you are dealing. Double-check email addresses, phone numbers, and websites to ensure they are legitimate. Do not rely solely on caller ID or email display names. When in doubt, end the call and dial a number that you already know to be valid.
Use strong passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts, and be sure never to reuse passwords. Consider using a reputable password manager to help you generate and store your passwords securely.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication on your online accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.
Check for HTTPS: When conducting online transactions or sharing sensitive information, make sure the website’s URL starts with “https://” and has a padlock symbol in the address bar. This indicates that your connection is secure.
Avoid suspicious links: Do not click links in unsolicited emails or text messages, especially if they claim to be from your bank, a government agency, or another trusted entity. Instead, manually type the website’s URL into your browser.
Beware of impersonation: Be on the alert for impersonation attempts. Scammers might pose as trusted individuals or organizations, such as your bank, a family member, a coworker, or even the Social Security Administration. If something seems off, ask the person to further identify themselves.
Report suspicious activity: If you suspect you’ve encountered a social engineering scam, report it to the relevant authorities and the organization being impersonated. Please also notify your Rockwood advisory team so that we can take further steps to prevent loss.
Keep software updated: Regularly update your operating system, antivirus software, and other applications to protect against known vulnerabilities that scammers may exploit.
Educate yourself: Stay informed about common social engineering tactics and scams. Familiarize yourself with the latest techniques and scams that criminals are using. Your advisory team can also help keep you up to date.
What is my team at Rockwood doing to help protect me?
That’s a great question. While we won’t outline all actions that we take to safeguard your information, we can share that we do the following:
- Our entire team maintains complex passwords and two factor authentication in all systems to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing our files.
- We share documents with you using encryption technology to ensure that your personal information remains protected.
- If we receive an email asking us to update any of your personal contact information, we will call you at a known number to confirm that the request is legitimate.
- When you request a non-routine transfer out of your account, a member of your advisory team will call you to confirm the purpose of the funds and to make sure that you are the one requesting the transfer.
While some of these steps may seem obvious, the unfortunate reality is that these scams work and are extremely profitable for the criminals attempting them. Our role is to educate you and help safeguard your financial future against these attacks. Please share any concerns with your Rockwood advisory team as they may arise.