Every week, we learn about new attempts to scam people out of money. In addition to some of the more well-known fraud attempts, like asking individuals to buy crypto or gift cards (likely a scam!), we are also hearing about attempts to access people’s banking and investment accounts.

This latest scam usually starts with a pop-up window on your computer alerting you to a security breach and inviting you to call a phone number. (Note that this type of pop-up window asking you to call someone and share details about yourself or connect to your computer is a huge red flag. Call a tech-savvy friend or family member for help – do NOT call the phone number on a pop-up window.)

For those who have been taken in by the pop-up window and contacted the phone number, the scam continues. The victim shares some personal information, goes through a reset process, and thinks that all is well. But the fraud is just beginning. Often a follow-up phone call will be received from someone posing as an employee from a financial institution such as a bank or brokerage firm, and letting the victim know that they need to take further action to protect their compromised accounts. The fraudster at this point is posing as an actual employee from the financial institution and inviting the victim to look them up on LinkedIn. Often a letter is received in the mail at the same time, again using the name of an actual employee, to add validity to the scam. They seem legitimate, and the victim divulges bank account numbers, brokerage account numbers and more and allows a transfer of their funds into “federal custody” while their account is “encrypted.” At this point, the scammers have full access to the victim’s accounts and the money is gone. Yikes! This is a pretty sophisticated, multi-layered scam.

Our service model involves your Plum Street team taking the lead on any correspondence or service requests from Schwab. For Plum Street clients, we cannot think of an instance where Schwab would call or contact you directly, except in the rarest of circumstances. If this does happen, please do not share personal information such as your account number or social security number. Instead, please contact us immediately, so we can verify the legitimacy of the request.

In general, no one from a financial institution such as your bank, Schwab, or Plum Street should be calling YOU and asking for account information or a social security number.

We hope that awareness of some of the new fraud attempts will help you to spot a scam before you are a victim. If you have been the victim of a financial scam, there are a few proactive steps you can take. Many people have been taken in over the years, with estimates of consumer fraud reaching nearly $8.8 billion in 2022 alone, according to the FTC. File a report with: Reportfraud.ftc.gov. You will also want to make sure your credit reports are locked down (we can provide you with a “how-to” guide). And if your identity has been compromised, report it using the identitytheft.gov website.