Broker Check

Safeguard Your Finances from Scams

Royal Standley tackles the pressing issue of identity theft and scams, providing practical tips and real-life scenarios to help listeners safeguard themselves. He highlights the necessity of proactive measures such as secure mail handling and document shredding, while cautioning against deceptive practices like fraudulent urgent calls, and stresses the importance of skepticism and verification.

Episode 91 Transcript

Intro: Royal Standley of Oregon Pacific Financial Advisors, offering securities through United Planners Financial Services, member FINRA, SIPC, guides clients with empathy in discovering and reaching their financial goals and creates financial plans for clients so they can live their lives by design. In these episodes, he relates his financial insights and discusses timely topics. Royal strives for excellence and has a passion for sharing his knowledge and supporting his community. Now onto the show.  

Royal Standley: Discussions in this show are for educational purposes only. Information presented should not be considered specific investment advice or a recommendation to take any particular course of action. Always consult with a financial professional regarding your personal situation before making any financial decisions. The views and opinions expressed are based on current economic and market conditions and are subject to change. All investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principle. Securities offered through United Planners Financial Services, member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory service offered through Oregon Pacific Financial Advisors Inc. Oregon Pacific Financial Advisors and United Planners are independent companies, and neither Oregon Pacific Financial Advisors nor United Planners offers tax or legal advice.  

Bill Tucker: Hello and welcome to The Life by Design podcast with your host, Royal Standley. Royal, great to see you again. Good to be with you.  

Royal: Good to be here. Bill, how have you been these last, uh, few weeks?  

Bill: I've been well, thanks. I've been well. I, I, although I live in the Northeast, it's a little colder, a little chillier and a little darker than I would like to be honest with you. I need some sunshine, please, Royal. 

Royal: Yeah, yeah. Months like, uh, January and February, definitely. You know, you see the benefit of snowbirding to someplace warmer and, uh -  

Bill: Oh, yes you do. Oh, yes. You do.  

Royal: Not as wet and cold.  

Bill: Yeah, exactly. Right.  

Royal: Well, good, good. Today I thought we would, uh, spend a little time talking about something that is becoming more and more of an issue throughout the country. Uh, I'm seeing it, uh, happen to my clients more and more often, and that is identity theft. And some of the things that we're seeing out there. So what we've decided to do you know, as, as a firm is really put this front and center with our clients because,

Bill: Good idea.  

Royal: We had some, uh, major things happen last year with clients that were just devastating from, from a financial standpoint. And I think there's a lot of education that we can do as, uh, financial professionals to help people avoid the nightmare that is identity theft and some of these scams that are out there. Um, people with way too much time on their hands looking to separate you from your hard-earned money. 

Bill: One of the oldest games in the world, your money. I want it, I'm gonna take it somehow, some way. And it's usually by nefarious means. And yeah, identity theft can be really, really painful and it's hard to communicate to that, to people who, who you know, who have been fortunate enough to never have had their identity stolen.  

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, I think people think that when your identity gets stolen, it's, it's a couple of phone calls, but in reality, I think they say the average amount of time someone spends on identity theft is about 40 hours. It's a full work week trying to sort out. Getting those things off your credit reports.  

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: You know, trying to get money back into accounts, filing police reports, doing all of those things. So, you know, really the prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to identity theft. So I thought we would spend some time today talking through, uh, some of the best things that you can do individually to protect yourself from it. 

Bill: Okay.  

Royal: And then also spend some time going through the steps if you are the, uh, the subject of an identity theft.  

Bill: That sounds lovely. Protection is, uh, always wise. Always wise.  

Royal: Yeah. And so, you know, this, this really goes back years and years, you know, the, the, the, the basic start of this, uh, you know, simply stealing mail out of your mailbox. That used to be the, uh, the big concern there is  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: You know, somebody just grabbing your mail before you were able to pick it up. Easy solution there. Make sure you have a locking mailbox. The other thing that you, we've seen for years, dumpster diving, you know, the benefits of having, um, a, a shredder either in your home,  

Bill: Yeah. 

Royal: Or using a shredding service and not throwing away those documents that have account numbers on it or social security numbers. And really making sure that you have away of getting rid of that uh, identifying information that you don't need to save for your records.  

Bill: Yeah,  

Royal: That's, that's one thing that we've done for, for years now, is we have a May shredding day. Uh, we invite clients into our office. We bring in the local, uh, shred truck. Bring in as much shredding as you would like, and we will get it shredded for you.  

Bill: Oh man. Oh man. Well, I, I may fly out.  

[Laughter] 

Bill: I just was cleaning through, literally going through files and cleaning out pounds of documents that, you know, I knew that I was gonna have to, you know, shred and I've got a little tiny shredder here at, in, in the office. But, uh, I thought this is gonna take me forever. So, yeah. I'll see you soon, Royal.  

Royal: You know, the, the other things that can happen, uh, uh, just, just outright theft, someone stealing your wallet  or grabbing your phone. Um, for iPhone users out there, one thing that we have seen is the, on their newest update, Apple is coming out with some additional identity theft protection. So most people have a passcode on their phone.  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: You know, either four or six digits. Um, that allows you to log into the phone as well as make changes, uh, inside of the phone.  

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: And if you don't have a passcode on your phone. Number one, put a passcode on your phone. Nothing is easier for, for a thief to grab your phone and if it's not locked, just go right in there, disable all the security features, and steal a good portion of your identity just off of your phone. Since most people nowadays are using their phone more and more for holding passwords, for accessing bank accounts.  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: Uh, and really dealing with their financial life. But, uh, Apple's coming out with a new feature where this is designed to protect a thief “shoulder surfing,” basically looking over your shoulder, seeing what your passcode is.  

Bill: Yeah. 

Royal: Grabbing your phone, and then being able to turn off the Find my iPhone feature and really lock you out of your phone and completely take over your identity there. So they've come, they're coming out with a new feature now that basically says if you try to change some of the, the passwords and some of the Find my iPhone features, you're not gonna be able to do it unless you're at home or at work or another location that you've already pre-identified. If they try to do it at another location, they'll give an hour window before they're able to change that and lock you outta your phone. So, uh, the, the phone companies are trying to do their best in dealing with this increase in identity theft. So,  

Bill: Yeah. I've got a really quick question. Royal, like a lot of phones now have a biometric. You know, either face ID or fingerprint or thumb whatever, right? Do you recommend that people use those biometrics?  

Royal: Absolutely. Absolutely. From a security standpoint, yes. Absolutely. There, there's arguments there on privacy and I understand them, but boy, is it a convenient way of accessing your phone,  

Bill: Yeah. And a convenient way to keep others from accessing your phone. I'll make a little, uh, confession here. I do not save, I do not save passwords on my phone for any bank accounts, even though it's a little inconvenient 'cause I have to remember these things.  

Royal: Mm-Hmm.  

Bill: What a pain, you know? But I don't, I, any, any, you know, anything that gives somebody access or would give somebody access to some personal financial stuff I don't keep on my phone. 

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. Um, I, I've seen other folks where they have one device that they keep at home, that they do all of their financial website access from.  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: So one laptop or one iPad that's just locked down. And, and doesn't have that access. Uh, and it's not something they're taking out that, uh, so they're, they're really trying to limit the ways your identity can be stolen. Because I think the, the other thing that's out there is making sure that you're not carrying too many credit cards in your wallet or purse.  

Bill: Oh yeah.  

Royal: In reality, um, you probably only need maybe one or two. Carrying six or seven if your, your wallet or purse is stolen, just increases the amount of work and legwork you have to do to a, to, you know, to, to cancel cards, get new cards, and, and do all that. So that's another, uh, little tip that we have is, you know, I know there's a lot of, uh, slots, especially in women's purses to put in a bunch of cards.  

Bill: Mm-hmm.  

Royal: You probably don't need to carry that many credit cards out and about one or two is probably sufficient to do what you're going to be doing.  

Bill: Makes sense. 

Royal: Yeah. The other thing you can do is save, uh, the contact information for those cards in your phone. So, for instance, you know, saving that information, the, the, the, uh, contact number, so if you do need to cancel something, you can just access that very quickly as well.  

Um, you know, in, in my mind, the other thing that we have to start talking about is the phone. And especially with elderly clients. The phone is one of the easiest way for scammers to access potential scam victims.  

Bill: Yeah. 

Royal: And with the advent of auto dialers and how much information is already out there on the web about you, there are so many ways for people to call someone's home, create a scenario out of thin air, and really begin to get people to give up more personal information, or God forbid start trying to solve a, a, a fictitious financial situation by passing over access to bank accounts or credit cards right there. So, for instance, I'll, I'll, uh, use a scenario that we saw last year. I had a client get a phone call from her bank. What this person said was her bank.  

Bill: Okay, I was gonna say really was it wasn't her bank? 

Royal: Saying that she had been the, the victim of identity theft. And that identity thieves had access to all of her bank accounts. Okay? This gentleman then proceeded to have her go to her bank, wire out all the money to somewhere else to protect this money from identity thieves.She was not able to recover any of her savings in that bank.  

Bill: Oh gosh. Oh my gosh.  

Royal: Because,  

Bill: Gosh,  

Royal: because of the story that, that he told, she, he was her only hope for saving this money. And once that wire went through, she never heard from him again. And it's, it's heartbreaking 'cause I mean, we're, we're talking, tens of thousands of dollars just, just disappeared. Because,  

Bill: Oh man. 

Royal: This story that was told to her that, you know, she believed, and the other major thing that happened here is these people do such a good job of creating urgency.  

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: That if you don't do this, you're gonna suffer loss or imprisonment or more fines, et cetera, et cetera.  

Bill: You need to act quickly.  

Royal: You need to act quickly, and you can't talk to anybody about this 'cause if people, if you talk to people, they might be in on it or they might also try to scam you outta money. They are really, really good and insidious about this. So really, if you don't recognize a number on your phone, just don't pick up the phone. 

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: You know, and I, I got a call last year as well from the power company.  

Bill: Really?  

Royal: And Yeah, from the power company. And it was all about how I hadn't paid one of my bills. That I needed to do it right now of they’d disconnect my, my power. And I was just, and, and for some reason I spent too much time on the phone and you know, I, I just began racking my brain, how in the world did I miss, you know, this, this payment, right? Et cetera, et cetera. Um, and, and, and part of it was just, you know, kind of interest to go, where does this go? Where exactly does this run out? Uh, and, and ultimately what the scam was, is they wanted me to use an app that is on most of your bank accounts called Zelle. 

Bill: Yes.  

Royal: Z-E-L-L-E. It's a cash transfer system that is virtually untraceable in a lot of cases. This scam was just designed to try to extract a few hundred dollars from me to get my my Power bill current. There was no power company. There was no late bill. It was just a, a means of getting a couple hundred bucks out of me to do this. And honestly, just a giant waste of time. So that's why we're, we're really talking about this, is these folks are out there, they are insidious.  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: And they will tell you anything to separate you from information about yourself and your hard-earned money.  

Bill: You know, I, I have found that when I get a call from like a power company, because I actually have gotten, I've gotten that same phone call as a matter of fact. 

Royal: Mm-Hmm.  

Bill: You know, and I had a, I had a momentary panic in my soul. 'cause I thought that, wait, I've been busy, could I miss that? And then, and then. The rational part of my brain took over and thought, no, they can't. They can't just turn my power off. I know that. I know this for a fact, okay, so calm down. And I said, I'm gonna double check and then I'll call you back and I hang the phone up. 

Royal: Yep. Yep.  

Bill: You know, and just, and, and you get away from 'em. And then you can in fact go look to see, did I and you, and you see, yeah. I did as a matter of fact, pay my, my bill. So that's the end of that one. And I've gotten weird phone calls from people purporting to be from my bank.  

Royal: Yep.  

Bill: And I always hang up on them. I don't have any, any conversations with them. And I call the number that's on the back of my car. And called them back and said, did someone try to reach me about this?  

Royal: Yep. 

 Bill: And uh, only once did I find out that it was a legitimate phone call. The others were not.  

Royal: The other agency that, uh, I tell clients just not to respond to, if they call you is the IRS  

Bill: Oh, yeah.  

Royal: Yeah. If the IRS reaches out to you, it is probably not the IRS. The IRS communicates through the US Postal Service.  

Bill: Yes, sir.  

Royal: Almost exclusively.  

Bill: Yes sir. They do.  

Royal: So, um, that is another one. And especially, you know, if, if you're older, if you know you've never done anything wrong, you get a call saying you owe all of these back taxes because whatever reason they trump up. They start feeding you this line that this needs to be taken care of right away and we need information about this or that. All of those are red flags. If someone calls you outta the blue and you're not expecting that phone call and they start weaving a story,  

Bill: Mm-hmm.  

Royal: It just doesn't make sense or doesn't sound right. It doesn't seem to be anything having to do with your situation. Just hang up the phone. It's okay to be rude. And I think a lot of clients don't feel like they can be. And especially they don't want to get in trouble hanging up on the IRS or their bank or the power company, any of these things. Wait for a letter in the mail and then make sure that it's a real issue. You know, you can call back, you can go online and get the, the, the number for the IRS, the number for the power company, the number for your bank. Make a call and do it that way. Don't accept a number from someone who calls you. You know that that was another part of this is, you know, if someone calls you and says, oh, to verify who I am, call this number. Once again, you don't know who you're calling, so just be ultra careful.  

The other thing I encourage folks to do is to call our office. You know, if, especially our clients, if you feel like you've been the victim of a scam, uh, or you feel like something just doesn't sound right, give us a call. Let us know. We can just walk you through what this is, uh, and what your, your response should be. I've had a few clients, and this is, this is a scam I haven't seen in a while, but that won the lottery. They won the lottery some,  

Bill: Oh gosh. 

Royal: some substantial, some maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. And all they have to do to get their money is wire some money to a foreign bank account to pay the taxes on the lottery. Lottery that they do not remember entering.  

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: So, always be on the lookout for anything that sounds too good or too urgent. Anything like that is probably going to be a scam.  

Bill: Yeah. You know, and I think, I think you're right when you say don't, don't be afraid to be rude. Although I know that you don't mean rude because you're the least rude person I know, but you know, I, I know that a lot of folks have been taught that you just, you, you, you know, you err on the side of courtesy and, and niceness as opposed to simply ending a phone call. And sometimes that is just simply the best thing to do. If something strikes you as weird, something strikes you as odd, there is nothing wrong with hanging up.  

Royal: Mm-hmm.  

Bill: There is nothing wrong with saying I need to check on that and hanging the phone up. 

Royal: Yes. Yeah. You, you can, you can talk to your kids about it. You can talk to, uh, you know, a professional like myself, maybe your CPA, you know, make those calls and, and you know, just don't send money to any, anyone. There's never any reason to send money out to, to someone that you don't know.  

Bill: Right. Yeah. Yep.  

Royal: A couple other things that, that we're doing here is we're sending out a, uh, free booklet on steps to protect yourself from identity theft, and I just wanna offer that right now to our listeners, that if you're interested in that, email our office, give us a call. We're happy to send that out to you at no cost because we just wanna get this information into people's hands. We want to, be a resource for them. We wanna educate them on ways that they can protect themselves from identity theft or some of these scams out there. I just wanna talk about some of the signs of identity theft, some of the ways that you might discover that you've been the victim of identity theft. 

Bill: Okay.  

Royal: The first is you start noticing charges on your credit cards or bank statements that you don't know where they came from.  

Bill: Yes.  

Royal: One that you'll sometimes see quite often is you might see a small charge. $3, $10, you know, but it's coming from someplace that you haven't been. And oftentimes that's somebody who has stolen your uh, credit card information and they're basically just testing it out on something small before they move on to buy something bigger. 

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: So just, 

Bill: That's happened to me. That has happened to me.  

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. So just be aware of that. Look at your statement. Turn on the, the monitoring. Uh, a lot of credit cards have monitoring where they will text you or email you when the card is being used without it being present at the location. So that's when someone's going online and putting in information into a website. The other thing that's available to you is you are able to access at no cost. Your credit reports, there's three major credit reporting agencies,  

Bill: Okay.  

Royal: You're able to request a report from each of those companies at no cost to you once a year. That's a great way of just looking over and making sure there's nothing on there that you don't recognize. The other thing I just recommend for all of my clients is a credit monitoring service like LifeLock. It is a very, very low cost way of providing constant oversight on your credit report as well as your identity. Uh, they've added in some really nice tools there that also monitor the dark web. You know, the dark web is uh, basically a cousin of the, the the internet that we all kind of know and, and can operate on, requires a special browser. That is a place where a lot of these criminals sell your data, and unfortunately, just based on the number of data breaches that are out there, all of our information is already available on the dark web. So it's very, very easy for these criminals and scammers to know where you've lived, what your date of birth are, what your kids' names are, you know what, what your social security number, because, because there's been so many data breaches out there, that information is just publicly available right now. We just want to be vigilant with that and know that in a lot of cases, that that base information is already available to a lot of these, uh, identity thieves.  

Bill: You know, it scares me when I realize how much of our what we used to call personal information is it's out there readily consumable on, on, on the internet. It's amazing.  

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, we were, we were talking off air before we started recording about, uh, scams with the IRS.  

Bill: Yes.  

Royal: Where, someone can get a hold of your name and social security number and either use it to work on, work under if uh  

Bill: Mm-hmm.  

Royal: They're not able to use their own identity because of immigration status or legal status here in the us And also you have folks who will file tax returns under your ID.  

Bill: Yes.  

Royal: And, and then just collect your return for you, uh, and walk away with them.  

Bill: Very nice of them, huh?  

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and, and those things can create nightmares. So always be ever vigilant with that sort of things. But also we realize that we're living in a world where that information for a lot of folks is already out there through no fault of their own, simply because you know, uh, it seems like we, we, we get a new, uh, a new update on another data breach, uh, every week.  

Bill: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. I've been a, I've been a victim of data breach, you know, theft via, via data breach. I've had friends who were victimized in the same kind of way. Uh, this is a very, very real problem that you're talking about. 

Royal: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think unfortunately it is only going to get worse. So what we're going to see here is with artificial intelligence coming out, I think we're gonna see more and more sophisticated, uh, attempts to stealidentities as well as steal money through scams from these criminals out there. So you really have to be ever vigilant and just be aware of that. My, my biggest advice for clients is get accrediting monitoring insurance, like LifeLock. It, it really is, you know, I think something that you need at this point, in the environment we're living in is some sort of monitoring to make sure no one's opening cards in your name, no one's using your credit, uh, score to, you know, basically open accounts that they're going to use. So, yeah, I, I really encourage folks to do that. 'cause that's, that's a very simple way of doing it.  

Um, so what happens if you're the victim of identity theft? So we have a, a, a, a list of things that you, you're gonna want to look to do. Number one you know, call the business where the fraud took place. Uh, talk to this fraud department there. Say your identity was stolen. Ask for your account to be frozen. Ask for the damage to stop at that point. So that could be a bank, could be a department store. You're gonna wanna place a, a fraud alert on your file. So what that means is, is you can contact one of those credit reporting agencies, uh, Equifax, TransUnion you can call them and say, hey, I've been the victim of fraud. Put a fraud alert on my, my, my files. They are required to report and, and pass that information on to the other two. Credit reporting agencies. 

Bill: Hmm.  

Royal: Um, that get, that's, that lasts for 90 days, but that should slow down any other attempts to open up accounts in your name. Next order a credit report look to see what's already on there. And maybe you're gonna have to probably look at that a few times to see, uh, if things have popped on there. And then from there you can dispute those things with each of the, um, uh, the crediting, crediting reporting bureaus. 

Bill: Okay,  

Royal: Uh, next file a complaint with the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission. You can just Google FTC and report fraud. That'll pull up a website and that allows you to basically let the FTC know you've been the victim of fraud and their website really has a lot of good information on what you need to do as a victim of fraud. 

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: And identity theft.  

Bill: Mm-Hmm.  

Royal: Uh, next file, a police report if there's, there's damages there. Filing a police report is, is oftentimes what you'll need to do, uh, to start going after recovering somebody, especially if there's been, been theft there. So the other thing you need to do is, God forbid, you're the victim of identity theft, is you have to record all the steps you're taking. Who you're talking to. So you want to be organized, you wanna be writing down, what numbers am I calling? What's the name of the agent or customer service representative. I'm talking, talking to on what dates and what times. And really start putting together a timeline of everything you're doing, because you're probably gonna be talking to a lot of people over and over again. And it's good to have that, uh, contemporary record with your notes of who you're talking to and, what steps you took to alleviate the fraud.  

Bill: Yeah, it's funny that you have to put yourself in the position of being defensive because you think I didn't do anything wrong. I, I was fine. But, you know, it, it does become, uh, a big problem. And I, you know, and I, and, and when I was working as a re- reporter. I did plenty of stories about people who were victims of, uh, identity theft and the major headache, the major headache. Not just, not just, not just a financial heartbreak and, and you know, but the headache and the problems that it caused. It's like just insurmountable. 

Royal: It's, it's a, it's a major undertaking to work through these things when they happen. You, you do need to be vigilant with it. And like I said, prevention is the best medicine here. So the, the, the, the more vigilant you can be using, you know, credit monitoring softwares and services. 

Bill: Mm-hmm.  

Royal: Not taking silly risks, like throwing out mail, uh, with, you know, bank, bank statements, that sort of thing, using a shred service. You know, using, using things to limit your, your exposure online. Making sure your computer has anti-virus software.  

Bill: Yeah.  

Royal: You know, those, those easy things that we think about that we may not be doing. Uh, all of those things put you in a better position, to not be the victim of, of identity theft and, and scams like this.  

Bill: So the book that you're offering, uh, if anybody's listening, they can, uh, contact you or how do they get ahold of the book?  

Royal: Yeah, you can visit our website at www.opfa.com. You can, uh, leave a comment on our website just requesting the book with your name and address. You can call our office and we're happy to send that out to you as well. You can reach our office at (541) 772-1116 or our web address is opfa.com.  

Bill: Thank you Royal. Really appreciate your time. And listeners, thank you for taking the time to listen today. Uh, we urge you if you are not a subscriber already. Become a subscriber. It's easy. Hit the subscribe button, that way you won't miss another episode of this podcast. And we would ask that, you know, if you like it, tell others, others about it. Spread the word about the podcast. Get the word out there about Royal is doing and how much you enjoy what he has to say. I'm Bill Tucker on behalf of Royal and everybody at or Pacific Financial Advisors. I'm thanking you for listening and reminding you to go out and live your best life today.  

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Please note that discussions in these shows are for educational purposes only. Information presented should not be considered specific investment advice or a recommendation to take any particular course of action. Always consult with a financial professional regarding your personal situation before making financial decisions. The views and opinions expressed are based on current economic and market conditions and are subject to change. All investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. Securities offered through United Planners Financial Services (UP), Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through Oregon Pacific Financial Advisors, Inc. (OPFA). OPFA & UP are independent companies. Neither OPFA nor UP offer tax or legal advice.