Manifesto

Most therapists see a therapist.

The Seattle Seahawks have almost as many coaches as players.

And even the most seasoned climber doesn’t summit Everest without a Sherpa.

You know why?

Because having a guide helps.

If you don’t know the way, a guide is indispensable.

But even if you’re an expert or well on your way, a guide can offer assurance, show you a few shortcuts and make sure you don’t stray off course.

We are guides.

And we help people navigate something far more compelling than a trail or path or investment opportunities and the market.

We don’t start a relationship by offering hot stock tips and patent-pending investment strategies.

We sit down and get to know our clients.

Where are they in their lives?

What makes them happy and fulfilled?

What do they want from their future?

Once we know where they are and where they want to go, we can set out on a journey to get there together.

And hey, if we decide we want to change where we’re going or take a different route, that’s okay too.

We’re expert guides, so we can help even the most sophisticated investor, but we pride ourselves on making the complicated easy to understand for everyone.

So we don’t put our arms around a client’s portfolio and drag it over to our side of the table and tell them we’ll take it from here.

We work with our clients to make sure they understand and are invested in the decisions we make.

We don’t sell our clients products; we help them make choices.

About the kind of life they want to live.

About when and how they want to retire.

And what kind of legacy they want to leave behind for their families, their communities, and the world.

We are Summit.

And we know it’s a bit cheesy, but darn it, we believe this to be true.

We guide our clients towards their dreams.

 

Tips for Avoiding Common Holiday Cyberscams

For many of us, the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, it can be especially profitable for cybercriminals. Because of the prevalence of online shopping, we almost always see a significant increase in cyberscams during November and December. To help you avoid becoming a victim of holiday cybercrime, here are some of the top scams to watch out for—and tips for avoiding them.

Shady Shipping Notices

During the holiday season, it’s very likely that you will ship at least a couple of packages directly to your loved ones or have online purchases sent to your home. This makes the shipping notice scam a popular one for cyberscrooges. Here’s how it works: The scammer crafts an email, purportedly coming from UPS or FedEx, notifying you of a problem delivering your package. To resolve the issue, you need only click on a link in the email message or open an attached invoice. Of course, doing so will install malware or ransomware on your computer or device.

Don’t fall for it. Be particularlywary of emails claiming to come from any courier service. If you do receive a message like the one described above—whether you believe it to be legitimate or not—go to the website of the company you may have ordered from. You should be able to track your package from the retailer’s site. Use the tracking number for the courier service that the retailer provides. You can also go directly to UPS.com or FedEx.com and obtain the delivery status there. Whatever you do, don’t click on any links or download any attachments in the original message.

Eyebrow-Raising Refunds

This phishing scam is designed to steal your personal and financial information. Typically, an email claiming to be from an e-commerce company like Amazon, eBay, or Overstock will say that something has gone wrong with your recent order. You will be prompted to click on a link in the message to obtain your refund. Unfortunately, if you do, you will be taken to a dummy website set up to look like a legitimate sender. There, you will be asked to fill out a form with your financial information to let the sender know where it can issue your refund.

Don’t fall for it. Again, to check the status of any order you may have placed, go to the company’s website directly (e.g., Amazon.com, eBay.com). If the company doesn’t offer the ability to check an order’s status, verify the transaction by calling the firm at a phone number that you know is legitimate.

Giveaways Galore

The gift card scam is seen year-round but more often during the holidays. These bogus offers are most commonly delivered by cybercriminals through social media, usually through a friend’s hacked account or a fake company page set up to look as if it’s legitimate. Appearing to originate from an entity like Best Buy, Ikea, or Whole Foods, the offer claims that the company is giving away hundreds or thousands of dollars in gift cards. But if you follow the instructions provided to obtain your gift card, you will likely be led to a phishing form that asks for your personal information.

Don’t fall for it. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is! If the post appears to come from a friend, call or text him or her to ask if it’s legitimate. In addition, be wary if the “official company page” looks a little off. Check how many followers the website has. The retailer’s authentic website may have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. Further, a huge promotion such as the one described in the offer you received would also be listed on the retailer’s website, so check there directly or call the company’s customer service number.

Website Vendors That Don’t Deliver

Many popular and novelty items may be sold out and on backorder until after the holidays. Or they may be hard to find from mainstream merchants altogether. So it’s not uncommon for consumers to search online for a less well-known vendor that may have the items. But beware! Another favorite holiday scam is staged through sketchy websites claiming to have hard-to-find items in stock. These sites trick you into paying for the items with no intention of delivering them. Often, these entities are based overseas.

Don’t fall for it. Search the Better Business Bureau website for customer reviews and the accreditations of merchants that are unfamiliar to you. In addition, because not all businesses are listed with the BBB, you might want to hunt elsewhere on the web for reviews posted by other consumers. If you can’t find much information on the vendor, stay away!

Still nervous? Below are additional tips to protect yourself from holiday scams:

  • If possible, use credit cards for online transactions. If you fall for one of these scams and unknowingly hand over your debit card information, it’s easy for the cybercriminal to drain your bank account quickly. Purchases made with credit cards typically offer more consumer protections.
  • If you’re uncertain about the legitimacy of a website, check its safety rating on Scamadviser.com or URLVoid.com.
  • If searching for an item on a lesser-known merchant’s website, check for spelling and grammatical errors. If found, these mistakes are a red flag that the site is most likely based overseas—indicating a possible scam.
  • Avoid online shopping or conducting any financial transactions over an unsecure Wi-Fi network.

‘Tis the Season

With all the merriment and shopping during the holidays, the risk of inadvertently exposing your credit card or bank account details is very real. It’s important to take a step back and pay attention to the emails you’re receiving and the websites you’re using. By following the suggestions discussed here, you can help protect yourself against cyberscams so you can fully enjoy the holiday season.

© 2019 Commonwealth Financial Network®