Investment Scam trend
While anyone who socializes, conducts business and communicates digitally can be targeted by cyber criminals, investors are now the number one target for internet crime.
Online investment scams are schemes to defraud people by convincing them to buy stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate or cryptocurrencies. The pitch, which usually comes after building a relationship via social media, is typically centered around sizable returns with minimal risk. The reality is often that there are no returns at all — and losses include your outlay to purchase the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How to help protect yourself:
- If an offer or opportunity sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. It’s impossible to guarantee that any investment will be successful.
- Swindlers often impersonate trusted people. Always double check the source of unsolicited communications and research investment managers/offers.
- Never take investment advice from social media, email, text or applications.
- Always validate requests for money, and use caution if asked to provide personal or financial information.
You don’t have to work in the finance department of a big company to be the target of business email scams. Personal email compromise is when a cyber criminal takes over your personal email account and impersonates you by sending emails to request account updates, wire transfers and re-route your emails without you knowing. The requests appear to be legitimate because either the clients, advisor or companies have already engaged with the compromised email in the past.
Help protect your personal email from being compromised:
- Use a complex password and update regularly - A strong password means a strong defense against hackers. See how to create strong passwords
- Give all requests for funds a second look. If an email looks strange, or you don’t remember interacting with the sender before, look up the sender and email or call them (don’t use the number they provide).
- Update all operating systems, apps and security software — including antivirus programs and firewall.
- Login to MyMerril Online or in the mobile app and:
- Updated your contact information so that we can contact you quickly in the event we see suspicious activity on your account.
- Sign up for alerts including mobile push alerts - Choose security alerts to remind you to change your password or to inform you that someone has tried to log in from an unrecognized device.
- Set Up 2-Factor Authentication to ensure you are prompted for a unique code when logging in online.
Talk with your trusted Financial Advisor about ways to protect yourself, and your money before sending a wire or transferring funds. Carefully review wire transfer requests and verify your instructions by speaking directly with your recipient. Once you send money, we may not be able to recover it.
Help protect yourself from wire scams, by using caution if:
- You’re pressured to act urgently
- You’re asked to open an account or deposit a check and then wire some or all of the money to someone you don’t know
- You’ve mostly interacted with the recipient via email. You should always call the receiver on a phone number from a recent statement, receipt or by visiting an official website to verify the instructions before sending
- Your recipient’s wire instructions or info changes at the last minute (particularly at home loan closings)
Think cautiously before sending money to someone you don’t know, or providing payment to businesses you haven’t worked with before
Be alert to criminals targeting the mail to steal checks and other personal identifiable information with the intent to commit fraud and identity theft. Check fraud occurs when a criminal obtains money illegally using paper or digital checks. For example, criminals steal or intercept checks sent in the mail and then make changes to the recipient’s name, payment amount and other parts of the check using chemicals or other means. It often takes several weeks before you realize your check never reached its intended recipient.
Help protect yourself from check fraud:
- Contact your financial advisory team to discuss additional ways you can send money using online payment methods such as Bill Pay, ACH or wire transfers.
- Sign-up for direct deposit or deposit a check using the MyMerrill and Bank of America mobile apps. Be sure to write “For Deposit Only at Bank of America” and your bank account number under your signature, and destroy the original paper check within seven days.
- Mail checks using certified mail (particularly high-value checks), a secured mailbox, or directly within the Post Office.