Why are Wealthy Families targeted?
- Higher visibility through the media, social media, broader group of contacts and/or increased accessibility to family and personal information online.
- The likelihood that they often deal in larger amounts of money and frequently wire funds of large amounts
- more accounts and credit cards that extend beyond family to often times include personal staff, allowing for increased areas of entry for fraud
Main Areas of Vulnerability for Wealthy Families and Individuals
- Identity theft including form jacking, in which cybercriminals steal sensitive information from online payment forms, account takeovers through data breaches, and new account fraud in the form of credit cards, mortgages, student loans or car loans.
- Credit card fraud is extremely prevalent amongst the wealthy. A recent study published by Wealth & Estate Planning stated that more than half of high net-worth clients reported they were victimized by credit card fraud.
- Real estate transaction fraud is another area of risk for the affluent, given large sums of money in the six to seven figures may be transferred during a transaction. A 2018 FBI Public Service Alert reported that [bad actors]… “have heavily targeted the real estate sector in recent years. Victims participating at all levels of a real estate transaction have reported incidents, [such as]… title companies, law firms, real estate agents, buyers and sellers. Victims most often report a spoofed e-mail being sent or received on behalf of one of these real estate transaction participants with instructions to change the payment type and/or payment location to a fraudulent account.”
Steps to Take to Help Prevent Fraud
- Maximize account protection by changing and strengthening passwords on a regular basis, use anti-malware programs and multifactor authentication, along with taking all necessary precautions to properly secure your home network and all business/personal accounts
- Create processes to ensure that you and your financial contacts develop a framework for respond to urgent requests. Cybercriminals tend to create a false sense of urgency in an attempt to get individuals to skip fraud prevention measures. Insist that all financial contacts verify every transaction request, to confirm legitimacy.
- Educate yourself and family members to ensure that you and your children understand that sharing too much personal information can have lasting negative consequences. Social media has infiltrated many aspects of our daily lives and minors in particular are often far more susceptible to sharing sensitive information that may be used to victimize a family. Talk to your children to encourage them to always verify a friend request prior to accepting and making sure not to tag locations or notify their followers that the family is traveling, etc.
- Segregate family and business accounts and be mindful on not compromising the separation via online communications. Targeting and hacking family members’ personal accounts in an attempt to add malicious code and gain control of a business account is becoming a more popular method by cybercriminals. With access to the business account, cybercriminals are able to send messages requesting payments, wire transfers, opening of new accounts and much more.
- Consider digital tools such as password manager services that provide a secure way to store security data in an encrypted database. This allows users to create stronger and more complicated passcodes to further protect accounts. Another advantage to using a digital wallet is that cybercriminals are not even able to use it even if is somehow stolen.
- Consider hiring a security consultant to assist with creating a customized fraud prevention strategy that integrates cybersecurity into wealthy client lifestyles. These professionals are some of the most skilled at preventing and effectively managing any security breach that you and your family may be susceptible to.
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