No one wants to be targeted by cybercriminals or be the recipient of a negative health diagnosis so, in this issue, we tackle these tough topics as well as the value of investing in experiences.
Steering Clear of Phishing Bait
Today let’s discuss phishing: the fraudulent emails, text messages, phone calls and websites that are designed to expose persons and organizations to cybercrime.
Cybercriminals can have various goals. When they target individuals, they’re typically looking to steal an identity and / or commit credit card fraud. When an organization is the target, they want access to sensitive data such as social security or bank account numbers, healthcare data, intellectual property, or financial information. Criminals often lock up the data they access and hold it for ransom.
Know The Signs.
The best way to protect yourself from email or text scammers is to know the signs. Phishing messages:
- Look like they come from an organization you know and trust, such as your bank or utility company or an online payment or app you’ve used in the past.
- Claim that there’s an issue with your account, payment activity or strange log-in attempts.
- Include an invoice that you don’t recognize of offer a coupon for something free.
- May have a generic greeting (“Dear customer,”).
- Always want you to click on a link to solve an issue or access something free or that you are “entitled” to.
Put on Your Armor.
You can help protect your phone by installing updates that often contain the latest security fixes, and your computer by using security software. You may have noticed that more and more vendors are requesting or requiring two- (or more) step authentication. Use it! Consider purchasing a hard drive to back up data from your computer and phone. If you aren’t sure whether a message comes from an organization you trust, contact them using contact information you have, not provided in the message.
There’s Only So Much You Can Do.
Even if you never take the phishing bait, your personal data is not immune to theft. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of Data Breach Report:
- The U.S. leads all other countries and regions in data breach costs.
- The top five sectors for data breaches in the US are: healthcare, financial, pharmaceuticals, energy, and industrial.
- The most common type of record compromised is customer personal identifiable information.
If you suspect that a message is phishing, you can forward texts to SPAM (7726) and report emails to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a non-profit coalition of counter-cybercrime responders, government agencies, tech companies, financial services firms, university researchers, NGOs and multilateral treaty organizations. If you suspect that a scammer has collected personal information from you, report it to IdentityTheft.gov, a division of the Federal Trade Commission and give us a call. We’re happy to help you sort through the consequences of compromised personal data.
We’re Investing . . . in Experiences.
A 2020 survey conducted by the McCombs School of Business examined whether people are happier spending money on an experience or a material item. Results indicated that people “derive more happiness from their experiences than their possessions.” What’s interesting is that people experience more happiness before, during and after an experience than they do before, during and after consuming a material possession.
We’d have to agree. When we circulated a list of 50 questions among our staff, almost everyone chose to answer questions related to experiences; a favorite vacation, a funny or weird incident in their lives, who, alive or dead, they’d like to have dinner with, or what they’d do if they didn’t have to work.
How We Help
Managing Bad News
When it comes to your health, we want only the best for you, but it’s not unusual for people who receive an unfortunate diagnosis to contact us.
Not surprisingly, individuals take a renewed interest in estate plans and insurance policies they may have written or purchased years before. We can walk through the choices they made and assess whether any changes are necessary or desired.
Often, however, our meetings focus on the goals that they set and updated periodically during The Lifestyle Protector Process™. We look at which goals they’ve met, and which are most important to meet going forward. Our conversations about how they want to spend their time and with whom often give people the clarity they need to have the hard conversations with those closest to them.
If you or someone you know is dealing with terminal diagnosis, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Advisory Services offered through Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC. Securities are offered through Triad Advisors, member FINRA/SIPC. Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC, and Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, Inc, are not affiliated with Triad Advisors.