It’s unfortunate, but true: During this period of economic uncertainty, one of the busiest “industries” has been financial scamming. But it goes on even during normal times, too, so you’ll want to know what to look for, and how to defend yourself.
For starters, just how widespread is financial fraud? Consider this: In 2019, more than 3.2 million fraud cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with identity theft being the most common type of fraud, accounting for about one-fifth of the overall cases. And fraudulent new accounts (mortgages, student loans, car loans and credit cards) amounted to about $3.4 billion in 2018, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research.
To help yourself from being victimized, consider the following suggestions. They are certainly not an exhaustive list, but they should prove useful.
- Watch out for unsecure websites. Make sure a website is secure before entering any payment or personal information. Look for sites that start with HTTPS, rather than those with just HTTP, which are not secure and can be hacked. But even a site with HTTPS can still be used by scammers, so, if you don’t recognize the name of the company or group that’s requesting your information, do some research to make sure it’s legitimate.
- Review your credit reports. As mentioned above, the fraudulent opening of new accounts is a big source of financial scams. To be sure nobody has opened new accounts under your name, try to review your credit reports at least once a year. You can get them for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Follow up on fraud. If you’ve already been victimized by having new accounts opened in your name, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) and place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file. You might also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, print it out and file it with your local law enforcement agency. And it’s also a good idea to contact the fraud department of the financial companies where the thief has opened a fraudulent account in your name.
- Be alert for suspicious links. “Phishers” have gotten quite good at sending out messages that look like they’re from reputable businesses. But if you examine these messages carefully, you can usually determine if there’s something off about them. For example, no legitimate business will tell you, via this type of message, that you have to “correct your account” by providing additional information. And if you do hit the link provided, and it takes you to a third-party site, you can be pretty sure it’s bogus.
- Resist “act now” offers. If you get an offer, via phone or online, urging you to “act immediately” on an investment opportunity, discontinue the communication. No reputable financial advisor will ever try to force you to take such swift action, and if an investment is legitimate, it will be available tomorrow, next week and next year.
- Use your shredder. You probably have the option to “go paperless” with all your banks and financial services providers, but, if you still do receive paper documents, be sure to shred them when they’re no longer needed.
You save and invest for years to help achieve your long-term goals. Don’t let any of your efforts be undone by financial fraudsters.
Review John-Paul’s Financial Corner Articles:
- Financial Corner: Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life
- Financial Corner: Sticking to Budget Can Boost Your Emergency Fund
- Financial Corner: Getting Through the Pandemic: You’ve Got Resources
- Financial Corner - Why Should You See a Financial Advisor?
- Financial Corner – Smart Moves for Women Business Owners
- Financial Corner – How Should Millennials Respond to Market Decline?
- Financial Corner – Local Expert John-Paul Speaks out to Hopatcong Lake Residents
“If anyone has any questions please reach out and use me as a resource. If anyone in this community wants to pick my brain or has concerns about what’s going on in the market, I’d would be happy to make myself available.”
Bio of Local Resident John-Paul:
Hi, my name is John-Paul Tancona and I’m a financial advisor with Edward Jones. I have over 19 years of experience in this industry, working with both institutional and retail investors.
John PaulI earned my bachelor’s degree at Villanova University in 2000 and immediately started my years journey into the world of finance. My first 13 years were spent working at high profile wealth management firms covering large institutional investors. Recently, I joined Edward Jones and changed my focus to educating and empowering individual investors so they can achieve all of their financial goals.
We believe in working with investors one on one, either at your local Edward Jones office or conveniently at your kitchen table. We want to find out what is most important to you and your family so we can take you through our established process and partner together for life.
Whether you’re planning for retirement, saving for your children or grandchildren’s college education or just trying to protect the financial future of the ones you care for the most, we can work together to develop personalized solutions tailored specifically to help you achieve your goals.
I live in Sparta with my wife, Julieann, and two children: Dominic (10) and Daniel (7).
My branch office administrator, Ellen Hawkins, has 35 years of experience and is dedicated to offering you an ideal client experience.
I look forward to answering your financial questions and concerns. Please contact me to discuss your options so you can make informed decisions about your unique financial situation.
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