Protecting Your Estate from “Social Engineering” Fraud

One aspect of estate planning is keeping your assets, and not having them stolen.  This came to my attention this weekend, when I received an automated “social engineering” call on my cellphone, something like: “This is ATT.  It has come to our attention that the security on your cellphone account may have been compromised. To avoid service interruption, at the tone please provide the last 4 digits of your social security number…”

I hung up.  My later research into that “800” telephone number disclosed a number of internet posts from individuals who had received the same message.  One post claimed that ATT denied leaving such a message.

Common sense is your best protection.  Here are a few guidelines:

1.  Never provide any personal information to an unsolicited caller or e-mail.  Never.  If you believe that it might be legitimate, call the provider.  They will invariably deny making an unsolicited call asking for information.  The more urgent the demand for information, the more likely it is fraudulent.

2.  Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to this type of manipulation, because they tend to be more trusting and are often starved for companionship.  Con-men and women target this risk group.  If you have a loved one living alone, measures should be taken.

3.  Always beware when accessing public wi-fi “hot spot” points.  Some predators set up hot spots and pass them off as public — for example, in a hotel lobby.  Never pass off private information through a public wi-fi access point.  Double check the name of the access portal, which might offer a clue as to whether you should use it.

4.   Disable the auto-connect feature of your phone, so that it does not automatically connect to the strongest wi-fi signal.  You should choose the access manually.

These are only a few thoughts.  Be safe during the summer.

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