Practical Strategies for Protecting Retirees Against Scams & Fraud - Cravitz Financial & Insurance Solutions

Practical Strategies for Protecting Retirees Against Scams & Fraud

As much as any other threat, recognizing and avoiding scams has become a necessary skill for today’s retirees to develop. In today’s episode, we’ll share a story of how a scam destroyed a woman’s entire retirement savings. Then, we’ll explore some crucial steps you can take to safeguard your financial well-being against the growing tide of scams and identity theft.

From government imposters to robocalls, this conversation will update you on the latest tactics scammers use and provide you with some safety measures to help protect yourself. With Americans over 60 losing $3.1 billion to cyber fraud in 2022, this conversation is more important than ever. Don’t miss out on this practical advice to keep your finances secure in today’s digital era!

Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:

  • Marjorie Blum's scamming story + the threat of scams for Americans over 60
  • Phishing, vishing, and smishing techniques that are used today
  • Some red flags to look out for when it comes to scams
  • Protections you can put in place to protect your finances, like strong passwords and two-factor authentication

Resources for this episode:

How this 77-year-old widow lost $661,000 in a common tech scam: ‘I realized I had been defrauded of everything’-

Fraudsters targeting senior citizens with multiple financial scams –

Full Transcript:

Ben 00:00

Well as much as any other threat, recognizing and avoiding scams has become a necessary skill for today's retirees to develop. So, we want to bring this important topic top of mind to you today and share a story about how this happened to someone that destroyed their entire retirement savings, provides some examples of what to expect when these scams are coming your way, how to recognize them and also how to protect yourself. That's coming up next.

Announcer  00:29

When it comes to financial planning, you need to cut through the jargon so that you can understand how to achieve your own retirement success. This is Candid Conversations Retirement Talk with Ryan Cravitz of Cravitz Financial & Insurance Solutions.

Ben  00:43

We're glad to have you on Candid Conversations Retirement Talk with Ryan Cravitz of Cravitz Financial. They're in Orange, California.  Ryan, how are you today?

Ryan 00:52

I'm doing pretty good. How are you Ben?

Ben 00:54

Doing well also. Glad to catch up with you. I know it's not a topic that's going to be one that we like to talk about right. Scam. It's not a fun topic at all, you know, we like to talk investing and and stay on the positive side. But today's topic isn't that. But it's so important because retirees, especially those getting close to retirement are often targets of scams quite often and we want to help protect them. 

Ryan 01:20

They are and there's so many new different scams that are going on nowadays. And it's unfortunate but you know, retirees and soon to be retirees. I mean, that's that's where the money is. And that's where these these fraudsters, these scammers are, are going so yeah, I think this is important to talk about here today.

Ben 01:39

We will do that today. If you have questions for Ryan, if we go through this about scams about something you might have seen or any other retirement planning needs, you might have 714-462-9155 is the number or you can log on Cravitz So just to kind of set the tone, we know this scams can can really ruin what you've worked for. But I want to share a story and we'll drop this in the show notes for you so you can read it for yourself. Alright, Ryan. I know you read this as well, an article from CNBC is from October 2023. So very, very fresh, but it really highlights why retirees and pre retirees have to be number one on guard, but kind of an example of what could happen potentially. And I think this is probably a worst case scenario, Ryan, but it's still details what could potentially happen. 

Ryan 02:28

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's sad. I mean, there was so much money here. $661,000 was ultimately stolen here was scammed in this case. So the story here, and it made me angry as I went through and just you know, reread this article. But this is Marjorie Blum. She's a 77 year old widow. She lost her life savings of $661,000 to a tech support scam, you know, quote, unquote, tech support, where fraudsters were posing as bank officials. And then they convinced her to wire her funds into cryptocurrency to protect it from supposed theft. Americans over 60 lost $3.1 billion to cyber fraud in 2022. So this is this is a big deal.

Ben 03:23

Yes, a huge deal. And, you know, to see that number is pretty staggering. That in one year alone, 2022 over 3 billion. I mean, just trying to wrap your mind around that is it's pretty nuts. And that's just one category, right? That's just over 60. That's not even including all Americans, because we're all targeted, Ryan, that's the thing. It's not, it's not just specifically for those that might have a little bit more money, they're getting close to retirement, it happens to anyone, if you have anybody with technology, if you're connected at all, you're probably going to fall, at least not victim but you're gonna be targeted. And there's three main types that that are out there. I don't know if you're aware of these, I didn't know a couple of the names of these but phishing, right, we know fishing ph with a ph, emails and websites, you're probably pretty familiar with that one, right? 

Ryan 04:07

Oh yean. I mean, you know, definitely. And I get these emails quite a bit. I know other people do as well, and these are these, you know, emails that we receive that, you know, it could look like it's coming from a legitimate company. And it's not. You know, they may even steal the logo or something of a well known company like a PayPal or something like this. And when you look under the hood on this and one of the key things to make sure that you're doing when you get these emails and you're wondering if these are, are scams or not.

One thing to check is to see who it's actually from. Now, not what actually what you see, but when you hover your mouse over it and you can actually see in that from line... if you're seeing something completely different than what you would expect that's when you you know that this is very likely a scam. But even then, these fraudsters have gotten even better, where they can spoof that email so that it looks like it's coming from a legitimate company.

So be very, very careful, especially with things where you didn't expect to receive something, you know, don't click on anything, that's how you can get, you know, malware, get virus, you know, on your computer, you know, don't go through clicking on anything there, you know, call the phone number, not what's listed on the email, but go, you know, go to the website separately, or if you know, the phone number for the particular company in question, you know, call them, get them on the phone.  Or just go to a separate web page, and actually, make sure you're going to their correct website to get their correct phone number. So all that's important.

But there's other things as well, these they call it vishing, which is V, I, S, H, I N G, these are phone calls that are you know, they're trying to get your personal information. And oftentimes, they try to go at you, like you like you have to react fast to something otherwise something bad is going to happen, these are all bad signs. So you know, that that's a couple of them, you know, right there. 

Ben 06:19

Yeah, there's one called smishing. Again, never heard this word before. But, I've gotten the texts that are meant to trick you, maybe into revealing personal data in these come through all the time. And I think anyone that's got a phone or is online, has probably gotten each of these forms. I know I have. And I know, there's been even some times where I really truly thought that they were legit emails, or phone calls or texts that that almost tripped me up.

But there are some things you can do to be careful of these things, and be aware and protect yourself. We're gonna get to that in just a second. But before we do, Ryan, I want to point out another article. Again, we'll share this in the show notes as well, from Reuters, that provide us some more real life examples. And I thought this was really interesting, because, again, a little bit more specific on kind of what to be aware of how these scammers are trying to get your information. And I thought this provided some really good information as well. Right?

Ryan 07:10

Yeah, definitely. There's, there's a lot of different scams that they talk about here. And it's important to, to be aware of these, you know it, and not only, you know, for you to be aware of make sure that your family members, your parents, whoever it is, is aware that these things are out there, because they keep getting more and more sophisticated. I remember, it's been several years, but I had a client of mine that had moved out of state and something was going on, and I forget the details now at the time, but he was absolutely convinced that it was somebody from the city that was calling him and that, you know, they that he needed to send some money for some purpose. I wish I remember the specifics. And fortunately, he just happened to talk to me like later that day, and we were talking about it. And I said wait a sec, no, absolutely not. Don't wire any money don't do anything. Let's let's try to figure this out. And so he ended up... we ended up going to a different website, he ended up calling a phone number, then he ended up going down somewhere some city office and confirmed that it was you know, none of this was was legit.

But yeah, it's crazy. It can happen. It can happen to anyone again, they typically target you know, seniors, just because that's that's where the money is, quite frankly, number one, you know, most people been saving a lifetime and now nest eggs and these fraudsters want it. You know, people getting Social Security, pensions, whatever else more equity in the home. But also a lot of times seniors just don't have the same types of, you know, tech skills on on a computer may not be as tech savvy, you know, that sort of thing. So, they try to take advantage of this as well, for sure.

Ben 08:58

They come in all types of forms. So it's important to always be on guard with this. And Ryan, you know, what we want to try to do is help people out with this, right? I mean, I think a lot of people have seen these are aware of a lot of these, but they're always changing. So it's important to just be aware of the signs of a scam. So what are some of the things to kind of be looking for? 

Ryan 09:19

Yes there's several things that you can do. I mean, you know, the first thing is just that common sense type thing. Is the offer too good to be true. I mean, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is right. It's one of those things. Another one would be if the links or you know the attachments in an email look suspicious don't click on it. Don't take that chance at all in doing that. Another one is you know, is this an unsolicited requests for personal information? You know, if you're, if all sudden, somebody's just emailing you and they want some personal information, you have yours and you were not expecting to get this chances are that that's not can be legitimate either. Another one is, are they requesting a small amount of money in order for you to get a larger amount of money? You know, they'll put that in terms like, it needs to be paid in order for the processing fee, or the taxes that might be owed on it or something like this. You know, these are...stay away from that don't don't send money. Anything you get it has poor wording or grammatical errors, it's likely those are going to be, you know, not legit. Those are big red flags right there. Also, extortion and blackmail are common techniques used to invoke strong emotions and in quick, unnecessary actions. And, you know, checks and even cashier's checks are often involved in should raise your awareness to the possibility of a scam. Legitimate companies aren't going to ask you for something in gift cards. All right. So these are all some key things to keep in mind. 

Ben 10:56

Yeah, just some good kind of common sense stuff, as you mentioned. And you know, if it seems, if it raises any bit of a red flag, it's important just to take a step back, take your time, again, no need to rush. Even they might play on your motions and make you think that it's urgent. So important that you protect yourself there. So beyond spotting the red flags, and what kind of protections Do you suggest people can be put in place Ryan to help avoid being a scam victim.

Ryan 11:23

So create strong and unique passwords and change them with regularity. One of the big mistakes, unfortunately, that people make is, is wanting to use you know, a certain password that is easy to memorize, maybe it's you know, some numbers, and it's a dog's name or something like this. And, and then continuing to use that same password on multiple different websites, you want to use different website or different passwords on on different websites. And also, again, you want to make these passwords strong.

And also, especially for your important accounts, like your, you know, your bank accounts and things like this, you want to make sure that you set up two factor authentication on these as well. So even if somebody gets your password, they would still have to go through the two factor authentication process. So, let's say maybe now a text message gets sent to your phone or something like this, you know, that's a two factor, you know, type of process. So make that difficult to get in. It's so important. Another one is to monitor your bank statements and your credit card transactions, you know, regularly. I recommend doing that daily just to take a look and, and see what's going on, you don't need to spend a lot of time, but you know, spend a minute or two just to see what's on there. And another thing is, you know, put fraud alerts on your credit accounts, you know, should you consider freezing your credit, if you're not planning on opening any new lines of credit soon. That's another thing to consider doing.

But taking care of and doing some real good digital housekeeping, making sure that on your computer, you're keeping your antivirus software, up to date, make sure that you're avoiding public unsecured WiFi, especially if you're accessing personal data, it's like, you go to a hotel, and they say they have this free WiFi. Well, it's unsecured and you're hopping on there. And, let's say you're going to go into your bank account or something like that.  That's not something that you want to do. So be very careful of that. And secure your phone with a passcode or with your fingerprint, something like that. And again, consider enabling two factor authentication on your devices as well. 

Ben 13:51

Yeah so good, practical advice for how to protect yourself from scams, because they were all going to be targeted, and everything's constantly changing with technology, the advancements in technology.  I'm sure, they're only gonna get more and more sophisticated. So, as we kind of wrap this up Ryan, what should someone do if they think they've been a victim of a scam? Or, you know, even to that same extent, if someone that you work with or that that is, you know, a client of yours comes across something, they think that might be a scam? You're always there to kind of help sort that out form, right?

Ryan 14:22

Absolutely. Yeah. Can call anytime. And, you know, here's the thing too. The big thing to take away I think is especially if you're called or sent an email and there's some urgency that's that's attached to this. They're saying you have to act quickly. Also, they'll say things like, don't tell your kids or don't tell anyone, it could compromise the situation, and maybe your money could be stolen. I mean, that happened in this situation here with this Marjorie Blum. I mean, they they pushed her that she couldn't talk to, or that she should not talk to anybody else, because there'd be a greater chance that that money would be lost or stolen, basically. And so, you know, anything like that, don't listen to that, if you think it might be a scam, chances are, it probably is, and talk to somebody that can help.

If you're a client of mine, reach out to me, talk to me about that situation. Reach out to a family member, a son or daughter or somebody else, as well and talk through that situation. But don't click on anything, don't click on any links on emails, texts, don't give any information over the phone. Remember, the IRS, the Social Security, administration, Medicare, they won't call you. I mean, Social Security could call you something like that, if you schedule a specific appointment for it, but no one's going to call you out of the blue about something that you have to get done immediately.

As a side note, whenever a client, emails that they need a sum of money from their accounts, you know, even you know, for me, you know, when I'm 100% sure that it is this person, maybe we had just talked about it the week before, and you know, that they were going to, you know, request this $5,000 or whatever it was, every single time even with that email, I am always going to call and confirm that information, over the phone. And so, I think that's a good practice really for everyone because of all the email spoofing and, and everything that is going on out there. And, and there's going to be more frauds and more things that are that are going to be you know that the scammers are going to come up with. So, be careful. Again, often wise to get other people involved, get on the phone and talk to people that you know about the situation to see if they can help. 

Ben 16:56

Yep, so important again, again 714-462-9155 is the number for Cravitz Financial, or find Ryan online at You'll find all of the podcasts, as well as videos and other content there to help you with your financial and retirement planning. Ryan as always, we appreciate the time and thanks for taking us through these scams. I know it's so important. We all need to protect ourselves and I think this hopefully if it protects one person it was worth us doing the show. 

Ryan 17:22

100%. You're absolutely right.

Ben 17:23

Well thanks for listening to Candid Conversations Retirement Talk with Ryan Cravitz. Hope you have a good week take care.

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