Last week my wife and I had the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving with our son and his family in Salt Lake City. I had expected that with less attention and trading, the stock indexes would fall back a bit. But it was full speed ahead for stocks and lower prices for bonds.
In a strong bullish market trend, it is not unusual to see the indexes hardly able to take a downward breath. We expect this uptrend to continue. But as is the new Trumpian joke, the change might be just a tweet away.
Just as important as making money is to not lose what you have through fraud and deception. Even my co-workers and I have been getting calls from the IRS scammers. They threaten to take expensive action unless we instantly call back to such and such number. Sometimes it has been several calls in a short time period, all from different U.S. area codes. How can this ruse be effective?
Obviously the letters IRS generally strike fear and trembling into Americans’ hearts. People overreact to the call and jump into panic mode. So, let’s look at some ways to make sure you do not fall into the clutches of these rascals behind the next method of deception.
First and foremost, the IRS never, ever begins an enforcement action by telephone call. They send notices to you by official U.S. Postal Service mail service. They tell you what kind of error is alleged for your situation and give you so many days to reply. They also will not show up at your door to initiate any collection.
IRS agents do not send you an email either. They request that you forward any such emails to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call the treasury inspector general at 1-800-366-4484 to report telephone calls or any other suspected impersonation of IRS personnel. Other information is available at www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection-tips.
Do not talk with or provide any details to anyone who calls you and claims to be with your bank. If it is the bank folks, they have your information. If you get an email that seems to be from your bank or financial institution, but is at all suspicious in tone or format, make the phone call to them and check it out.
If we or other financial services providers receive emails from clients requesting money be withdrawn from accounts it is prudent to not act on them. Our practice is to call the client at a known number to confirm that it is actually them making the request. I recall one time a client was physically in our office discussing the hacking of their email account while we were receiving a fraudulent email requesting a withdrawal!
Concerning a different kind of scam, do not fall for the pitch that I just happened to be in your neighborhood and have some extra asphalt, concrete, or whatever else might be the stuff du jour. The last time I mentioned this, I got a call the very day the column appeared from a reader telling me about his neighbor who had just been frightened into paying a lot of money for a little asphalt. Even if you actually need something, take the time to check out the company. A reputable company will come back after you do.
(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.)
Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at email@example.com.