Beware the fraudster!!!

Elizabeth Verdi, CFP®, AIF® |

I had never heard the term “fraudster” until I joined RPJ over 8 years ago. It seemed like such a silly word at the time, almost made up. Why not use the terms “scammer” or “con artist”?  Given the frequent use of this word in our industry, it no longer seems odd. We are routinely alerted by our Schwab team on the most recent actions taken by fraudsters.  I’d like to share some ways they are attempting to defraud clients, how you can protect yourselves and how RPJ is working hard to protect you as well!

Email - Fraudsters have evolved over the years.  They are no longer sending cryptic emails with spelling errors and incorrect grammar.  They are monitoring email and learning the writing styles of those they are attempting to defraud.  Your responsibility is to ensure your email passwords are unique, complex and changed frequently! (More on this in #2).  Our responsibility at RPJ is to review every client email with scrutiny, specifically emails requesting any shifts in money movement.  Best practice for requesting a money movement?  Send an email to your advisor and pick up the phone to call us!  After all, we love speaking with you.


Passwords - We suggest you update your email password every six months.  How many of you have your passwords written on a post-it note next to your computer? Consider using a password manager to keep track of your changes.  My husband and I use LastPass and it’s been glorious for my password sanity.  We have over 160 websites saved in our secure password keeper ranging from Schwab to our Harris Teeter online shopping.  There are several password managers out there so do a little research on what might be best for you.


Phone calls - We’ve recently been alerted by Schwab that Fraudsters have been calling clients posing as Schwab employees and asking for important account information.  You’ve probably heard about a similar issue with IRS Scammers.  If a Schwab “service rep” calls you, hang up and call us immediately. 


Wires - Fraudsters continue to find ways to divert wires to incorrect third parties.  The most recent fraud cases are involving wires to Title companies for home closings.  The fraudsters are intercepting the emails between the Title company and home buyers and providing incorrect wire instructions.  How to protect yourself?  Call the title company directly to confirm ALL wire information. RPJ also has a requirement to verbally confirm all wire information before our client signs off on the transfer.


Public Wi-Fi - How many times have you accessed an airport or restaurant Wi-Fi? Starbucks? Most wireless networks in public areas are open with no security in place.  Our RPJ policy is to never access a public Wi-Fi.  It protects ourselves and our clients!


Safeguarding your information is of the utmost importance to our firm.  We are continually updating our security procedures to protect our clients. We ask that you also exercise caution and adhere to creating strong passwords for all online accounts.