About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C. area that works with clients virtually across the country. Lamar's work with his clients focuses on budgeting, employee benefits, paying down debt, buying their first home, and investing. Lamar is the Founder of Dream Financial Planning, a virtual Fiduciary Financial Planning firm specifically designed to help young professionals and minorities take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn how we use the DREAM Financial Planning Process ™ to help our clients achieve their goals.
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Scammers keep getting bolder and bolder with their extortion methods. From impersonating landlords to illegal debt collection tactics, there is no shortage of ways scammers will try to separate you from your money.1
Scamming has been exacerbated even further by the pandemic, with scammers taking advantage of citizens in an already anxiety-inducing climate. Be aware of these five red flags when getting on the phone, checking your email, or using social media. This can help you avoid getting trapped in a conversation with a scammer in the first place.
Red Flag #1: They Make an Identity Claim
Many scammers are now utilizing strategies in which they claim to be trustworthy sources, such as a government agency or even your bank, to get information from you. If you receive a strange call, text, or email with an unfamiliar hyperlink, this is a telltale sign that you are being scammed.2
Never click on mysterious hyperlinks or respond to uncertified messages asking for your personal information, especially if it involves money. For instance, many scammers claim to be government agencies providing updates on COVID-19 economic support. Do not blindly trust these claims.
Red Flag #2: They Need Your Personal Information Immediately
A scammer’s goal is to get your personal information as quickly as possible. Especially due to the pandemic, scammers prey on people’s fears. In addition to making a brazen identity claim, a scammer will often state that he or she needs information or money immediately, or something terrible will happen. Be aware of this behavior instead of allowing it to induce stress.
If you are already in contact with a potential scammer and start displaying doubts, a scammer may even get aggressive about needing your information. This is another sign that you are dealing with a scam. A genuine source will never require you to reveal personal information in this manner.3
Red Flag #3: You Must Wire Money
Once a scammer receives money from you, his or her goal is to disappear with it, becoming extremely difficult to track. If an entity is asking you to send money via a wire transfer or reload pack, this is likely a scam because these payment methods are tough to track.3
Moreover, if someone is requiring you to send money quickly in an unorthodox fashion, they are likely scammers.
Red Flag #4: The Scam Does Not Apply to You
This is one of the more obvious indications of a scam. For instance, a scammer may contact a teenager about car insurance when the teenager does not even own a car in his or her name. Nonetheless, the frightening and urgent language of the call could get them stuck in an uncomfortable conversation with someone who is likely a scammer.
If somebody approaches or calls you with an offer or issue that clearly does not apply to you, get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
Red Flag #5: It Is Too Good to Be True
Unfortunately, getting an excellent deal is often a sign that it may be a scam. A scammer will promise you something that seems far too good to be true to draw you in. Even if a scammer’s website seems extremely official, or a scammer approaches you in person, looking very professional, that is often a front to gain trust.
This is one of the easiest ways to get scammed, and it can happen in almost any area of business. Always stay wary of untrustworthy sources, and if you seem to be getting too good of a deal on insurance or even something as big as an apartment rental or car, do more research on the identity of the source.
It is much easier to get scammed than one would think. Make sure that you are aware of the telltale signs of a scam and avoid allowing your fear to get the best of you in these situations. Getting scammed is a taxing and costly ordeal that nobody deserves to experience.
Dream Financial Planning Process ™
Whether you're managing student loan debt, starting a family, or considering buying your first home, the DREAM Financial Planning Process™ is tailored to the unique needs of busy professionals in their 30s and 40s. This process focuses more on short-term goals while you grow and evolve in your personal and professional life. So if you're looking for guidance on Financial Planning, optimizing employee benefits, budgeting, student loans, and managing your 401k or investments, we can help.
With uncertainty surrounding the economic stability of our country, it's okay to have fears and anxieties surrounding your own savings and investments. The most productive course of action from here is to reach out to Dream Financial Planning (or whoever your trusted advisor might be) and discuss your options. It's easy to have knee-jerk reactions when it feels like the bottom is falling out, but it is imperative to make decisions using research-backed data and a level head. If you'd like a Complimentary Review and risk assessment of your investment portfolio, feel free to send me an e-mail.
In the August Newsletter, I explore how you should invest money for your short-term goals after you've established an emergency fund. I also discuss how a Financial Advisor can help you avoid emotional decision-making with U.S. News and World Report and how to know if your Financial Advisor is the right fit for you. There are also blog posts where I outline how to complete a mid-year financial check-up and 5 college planning mistakes to avoid.
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Disclaimer: Dream Financial Planning, LLC does not warrant that this information will be free from error. None of the information provided on this website is intended as investment, tax, accounting, or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as an endorsement of any company, security, fund, or other securities or non-securities offering. The information should not be relied upon for purposes of transacting securities or other investments. Your use of the information is at your sole risk. Under no circumstances shall Dream Financial Planning, LLC be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or consequential damages that result from the use of, or the inability to use, the materials in this site, even if Dream Financial Planning, LLC or a Dream Financial Planning, LLC authorized representative has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Please consult with your own advisor before making any changes to your Financial Plan, Investments, or Insurance coverage.