If It Sounds Too Good to be True…

I am constantly amazed at the various techniques created to target vulnerable people out of their money or identities.  Yet, we are all susceptible to these destructive activities.
In the world of big data, we can be easy targets.  Consider this, on Facebook you can purchase targeted ads called sponsored posts.  For example, you can target your post to homeowners, over 50, within a specific geographical area.  Targeting allows you to market directly to a specific audience.
Someone who I trust and respect recently shared a “sponsored” Facebook post about discounted sunglasses being offered by a famous eyewear designer for one day only, as a fundraiser.  The post claimed that this is the year-end clear out and that all glasses normally priced over $100.00 would be $25.00 for one day only, and all sales would go to charity.  I was fascinated and decided to dig in and see if this offer could possibly be true.
I clicked through to the web site and it all looked to be in order, the logo looked legitimate, the site functioned well, the designs and names of the sunglasses were familiar.  The web site looked genuine to me yet there was something about it all that just felt off to me.  So I decided to invest the $25.00 to get to the truth.
Three weeks later my husband asked me what I ordered from over-seas, confused I found the box and remembered my sunglasses.  They looked like the ones on the site but they were definitely a counterfeit product.  I know because I actually own the same pair that I ordered, you can tell simply by the weight, quality of the materials and the slightly blurry logo on the frame!
Mystery solved, yes it was fraudulent, I think just to sell fake sunglasses, but I am keeping an eye on the credit card statement as well to be sure that there isn’t anything more nefarious going on!
As part of the banking industry we are required to take multiple, annual training classes on many subjects and one of those is social engineering or the types of attacks that can hit you through email, fake phone calls or other communication that comes with a request for a password, or other identifiers.  I am pretty good at spotting a fake, it has become a bit of a game for me.
How do you know when you are looking at the real deal as opposed to a decoy designed to cheat you in some way?
In today’s world of constant non-verbal communication, we think that we are talking with our friends and family when we are posting on social media, and we are.  But when it comes to sourcing a reference for an important transaction, do not believe what you read, even if posted by a trusted friend.  Pick up the phone and have a conversation.  In the end human connection is fulfilling and you can cover more ground and gather more information when talking through a situation with your friends, rather than relying on a social media post for your solution.

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About Wintrust Mortgage: Wintrust Mortgage was created to assist in the realization of the American dream of home ownership. Our large volume and the ability to lend in all 50 states make us one of the largest mortgage bankers in the country. In 2015 alone, we originated $4.3 billion in loans. Wintrust Mortgage hosts over 190 retail, operations and bank locations across the country. Wintrust Mortgage is a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A., a Wintrust Community Bank, NMLS# 449042. Equal Housing Lender. For more information visit the company website at www.WintrustMortgage.com, “Like” us on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/WintrustMortgage and follow us on Twitter @WinMortgage.

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