In 2023, Americans reported they were the victims of more nearly $10 billion in financial fraud1. With fraud increasing in frequency and intricacy, investors must stay vigilant about protecting their financial security. Here are six steps you can take to help protect yourself:

  1. Actively avoid scams. The best advice for bypassing fraud involves a series of don’ts. Don’t pick up calls or respond to texts from numbers you don’t recognize. If your bank leaves a message, return the call only after double-checking you have the correct number for your financial institution. Don’t click on links or download documents unless you are certain of the source. Don’t provide account information over the phone, email or social media.
  2. Look for red flags. Typos, grammatical errors and unusual return email addresses are giveaways of phishing emails. Scammers often use a fake address that mimics the address of a trusted source. To “unmask” the sender, hover over the visible address to reveal the real source. Additionally, be wary of investment scams that promise sky-high returns. If your gut is telling you it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
  3. Monitor your accounts. Check account transactions and balances frequently to keep an eye out for suspicious or unauthorized charges. If you do not recognize an expenditure or suspect fraud, contact your financial institution immediately. If available, activate alerts to receive immediate notification of suspicious activity on all bank accounts and credit cards. As an added precaution, request a free credit report annually from the three major credit bureaus. Review your report to spot any changes in your credit rating or unauthorized applications for credit.
  4. Manage your passwords. The security of your accounts is only as good as the privacy of your passwords. Security experts recommend updating important passwords regularly (every three to six months) or sooner, in case of a data leak. A strong password is long, randomized and unique. Consider using a password manager, which securely stores and completes login fields.
  5. Take advantage of two-step verification. With two-factor authentication (2FA) activated, your user ID and password will prompt a request for your phone number or email. You’ll receive a unique passcode to complete the login process. This extra layer of security makes it much more challenging for bad actors to hack into your secure accounts. If your password is compromised, 2FA creates one more barrier to entry.
  6. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Most public Wi-Fi sources are insufficiently secure. As a result, cyber criminals often hack into public Wi-Fi in search of financial information to exploit, such as passwords, account numbers or personal data. If you must rely on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual public network (VPN) to protect your connection. If you don’t have access to a VPN through an employer, download and subscribe to a reputable network so you can safely access Wi-Fi when away from home.

It is important to remain vigilant. Pay attention to reports of fraud in the news and take note of new ploys to avoid becoming a victim. Know that there are many resources available to protect your financial accounts and security. A financial advisor can help you understand the best measures to put in place to protect your financial information.

Daniel P. Morrissey, CFP®, CFS®, CRPCTM, is a Private Wealth Advisor with Heartland Wealth Advisors a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 40. To contact him, go to or call (717) 270-6937 at 1536 Cornwall Road, Lebanon, PA 17042.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.   

Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.     

Investment products are not insured by the FDIC, NCUA or any federal agency, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.      

Securities offered by Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Member FINRA and SIPC.    

© 2024 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.  

  1. Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book ↩︎

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