Broker Check

Use Doubt to Defeat Scammers

April 18, 2024

I recently read an article in which a financial columnist for a major publication was the victim of an elaborate and expensive scam.

The con transpired over several hours, but it began with a phone call from a "trusted" retailer's customer service and ended with the fraudsters impersonating the CIA. Ultimately, the scammer convinced the victim to put $50,000 in a shoe box and give it to a stranger.1

Sounds like something out of a thriller, doesn't it? And I'll be honest, my first thought was, "I would never fall for that!"

But the more I thought about it, the more I could understand how someone might react, given the surprise of the call and the hours of fear that followed. To their credit, the writer turned this tragedy into an educational moment by sharing their experience and the many red flags they wish they had seen.

Interrupt the Conversation - If you feel something might be wrong, pause and let the caller know you will call them back. It's essential to call back using a publicly available number; do not use a number provided by the caller (no matter how much they protest). For example, if you receive a call from your bank and want to be sure it's legitimate, hang up and call back using the number on your bank's website or the back of your credit card. Often, this act in itself can disrupt a scam in progress.

Trust Your "Gut" - If doubts persist, refuse to engage until you have verified the caller's identity through a trusted legal or authoritative body. Genuine organizations will never rush you into making instant decisions, nor will they ask for payments in an unorthodox and immediate manner.

As always, rest assured that we are here to help. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you ever need guidance or if something doesn't feel right.

Take care and stay safe.

1. Finance.Yahoo.com, February 17, 2024. "How not to get scammed like the financial-advice writer who lost $50,000 to fraudsters: ‘There are a million things I wish I had done differently’"