How to Protect Yourself Against Scams

WISE – Blog for April 2014 by Victoria Collins, Ph.D., CFP Founder, Invest In Yourself and Co-Founder of WISE

Skimming through my emails the other day, one caught my attention. It said “Account Alert – IMPORTANT Membership Notification for your Card.” It was clearly from customer service at American Express and said “NEW! Card Security Guarding Procedures.” On the upper right corner under the American Express logo it said it was for the account number starting with 37. I grabbed my purse and sure enough my card started with 37. To verify, they instructed me to click on the attachment which would take me to a web page with a form to fill out and save.

This was a scam and a clever one at that. Sometimes when we’re busy and going through emails quickly, we’re less discerning, less observant and we’re vulnerable to scams that are so well designed they look just emails from our banks and credit card companies.

If the logo and the font and the wording were typical American Express – how did I know it was a scam? First, all American Express cards begin with 37 – if they had given me the last 4 digits which matched my card, it would appear more legitimate. Second, the email had multiple misspellings, such as, “informations” – clearly a typo that wouldn’t have come from American Express. Third, the “from” email didn’t look right – a dot between American and Express and following the @ symbol it said – it just didn’t look right.

The moral of the story: If a credit card company, bank or financial intuition is asking you for your social security number, account number or password, don’t give it to them without first checking with your contact person or visiting the company’s website directly (without using a link provided in an email) and logging in as usual. Identity fraud is the fastest growing crime in America and it is better to be safe than to become a victim.

Here are some resources, you might want to check out to learn more how to protect yourself.