Be Aware and Stay Aware

Remain vigilant and do not hesitate to ask questions!

As we head into spooky season, here is a reminder that there are scary things are lurking online and even in your inbox. In today’s blog I want to address a topic that bears revisiting – cybersecurity.

Sarah Irving covered this topic around tax day back in 2021, and perhaps more frightening than the fact that 2021 was TWO years ago is the fact that these scams have become far more sophisticated when aided by AI (Artificial Intelligence).  These scams are so easy to fall victim to—and we’ve had more than a few panicked calls from folks who were taken advantage of!!

One of the main ones we’ve seen recently is the tech support scams, where a consumer receives an email from an institution about an issue with their account and is asked to log in to verify their account. With the sophisticated technology, these phishing scams appear to be from those institutions. The same advanced technology has been applied to caller ID – a phishing phone call or text message may pop up on your cell phone with an ID that matches the institution. If you receive one of these emails or any suspicious communication, here are some tips to ensure you are not releasing information to scammers:

  • If you receive an email from an institution asking you to log in, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Hover over any links, and know that the ‘sender field’ can be altered. If you are unsure, call the institution’s main switchboard to verify.
  • If you receive a call of text from an institution, don’t assume they’re calling from that institution. Call them back on the main switchboard. Caller IDs can be spoofed.
  • Never send money!

Some scams have gone even further, using social media platforms to engineer sophisticated scams where a bad actor poses as a financial professional offering investment advice. These fraudsters claim to be friends of acquaintances to establish trust over weeks and even months. Be very wary of anyone you encounter online soliciting financial advice. If you have a question, ask your advisor!

Here are a few other red flags to watch for:

  • Anyone asking to use “Friends and Family” payment options on Paypal when making purchases on the internet.
  • Anyone asking you to buy gift cards or prepaid cards. These requests often seem innocuous – an example I saw recently was a spoofed email address that appeared to be from a known contact asking the recipient to pick up a gift card as a surprise for another known contact. With the amount of information available on the internet, creating these very realistic communications has become commonplace.

If you are ever unsure about a communication from Meridian or our custodian, or any other financial institution, do not hesitate to reach out. We would much rather verify than see fall victim to fraud!

Our custodian Charles Schwab has a variety of resources available for fraud protection.

Speaking of scary things… The Meridian running crew recently ran the “Run for Your Life” 5k at Verdun Adventure Bound, complete with an appearance from Sasquatch!

From Left to Right: Sarah Y’s husband Jonathan, Lucy’s husband Tom, Sasquatch, and Kira.
Categories : Financial Planning

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