Expert Tips to Avoid Being Fooled by Scammers

By Stephanie Sterling EA, AIF®, ChFC®

A cyber-attack can appear in a variety of different ways. It is hard to stay ahead of the “bad guys,” who seem to be able to work around any security measure put in place. It is a good idea to pause for a few seconds, gather your thoughts, and be cautious about anyone that requests personal information from you, no matter what communication method they choose.

Below are several methods being used to try and gain access to your private information.


This is a type of social engineering scam often used to steal computer passwords, your personal credentials, or credit card numbers. Someone sends you an email stating there was unusual activity on your bank account or similar. The email requests you follow a link to fix the issue. The link takes you to a fake site, where the scammer can steal your personal information.


Once a cyber-criminal gains access to your computer they may “lurk” and wait for you to send an attachment to your bank, accountant, or doctor. Then they strike by sending a file to your computer, installing malware that gives them full access to your information. This scam is often used when files are shared through Microsoft teams, Google Drive or Zoom.

When you receive an email, get in the habit of completing the following steps:

  • Make sure the website address bar starts with https://
  • Check the spelling of each word in the email address
  • Check for poor spelling, punctuation and capitalization in the email, which should raise a red flag
  • If the email is offering something that is too good to be true……delete it
  • Never get caught in a sense of urgency; an email stating something like, “Act immediately” indicates it’s a scam


If an email asks you to log in to an account by clicking on a link, log in to your account through your web browser instead.

Zelle®, PayPal, GCash, etc.

These platforms are popular to transfer money between family and friends.

Never send payments for unsolicited requests to:

  • Any government agency
  • Anyone you don’t know
  • A telemarketer selling something
  • Anyone claiming your account is compromised
  • Anyone asking you to send money to yourself
  • Anyone who wants you to “round up” a payment to the next $10 amount

The IRS will NEVER call and demand payment immediately over the phone, for any reason.

If you are ever in doubt that an email or other form of communication is real, be cautious and don’t provide any personal information. Request another way to provide the information. Additionally, never act out of any sense of urgency.

If you would like more information on this or other related topics, please feel free to contact Stratos Wealth Partners, for a complimentary call or appointment, at 928.460.5507. Visit Stratos at 100 E. Sheldon Street, Suite 105, in Prescott.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered through Stratos Wealth Partners, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial.