Fraud Prevention & Schwab Document Delivery
In the past month we have had several clients experience fraud personally. These experiences were time consuming and emotionally draining for them to address. In an effort to help you avoid these perils here are some recommendations to help you prevent fraud:
Do not mail checks. The USPS has advised citizens not to mail checks if they don’t have to. If needed, they recommend they be hand delivered to the post office.
Thieves are using a technique called check washing which uses a solvent to remove ink on a check and then the person rewrites the check to the place they would like and for the amount they wish. Since the check still has your signature it is honored by the bank.
Many of you may be processing rollover checks where the check comes directly to you rather than going to the financial institution. Schwab offers us the ability to deposit the checks by scanning them in. If you would like to bring your check to the office, we would scan the check and deposit it directly into your account so you do not have to mail it.
Set up direct deposit or withdrawal where possible. This helps to avoid sending any checks in the mail. Most businesses offer this option. We recommend setting it up whenever possible.
Review your credit report on a regular basis. Many credit card companies offer credit report monitoring with your credit card. We know that Chase bank offers this. You are also able to check your credit free with multiple credit reporting agencies annually at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review the report to make sure that you recognize each account that is listed on your report. If you do not recognize it, report it.
Use your credit card vs. your debit card for daily spending. When your credit card gets breached and is reported there is no cash out of your pocket, the thief stole funds from the credit card company. When your debit card gets breached, that is money directly out of your checking account that you will have to wait to get reimbursed.
Review your credit card and bank account transactions on a regular basis. Many banks and credit card companies have an option right within their bank application to contest a fraudulent transaction. The sooner these are identified, the sooner the bank will shut down that account and provide you with a new card.
Do not click on links that are emailed to you. This is a scam that has been repeated over the years. By clicking on links you can potentially download viruses to your computer which can make your information susceptible to predators. Always confirm that you know the sender’s email address, not just the display name. Information and paperwork from NorthAvenue will come from an @northavenuefa.com or @docusign.net email address. Kristen received this very convincing scam this week, which is only easily discernable by looking at the email (highlighted) that it came from.
Compare with this legitimate email:
Emails from NorthAvenue will also come with a detailed explanation and/or we will have notified you in advance. If you ever have any questions at all, or are unsure if an email is legitimate, ask us.
Do not provide personal information in emails. Legitimate institutions, including NorthAvenue, will NEVER request you to verify your personal information via email. Avoid giving out bank information, driver’s license information, and social security numbers. If you receive what appears to be a legitimate email from one of your banking institutions asking you to select a link, we recommend signing directly into your bank’s website and then confirm if that information is required.
Following these steps will help to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of fraud. If you do have any questions on if documentation you receive is genuine, please upload it to your portal or forward us the email. We are happy to review it for you.
Schwab Document Delivery
We are now over two months into the transition to Charles Schwab. While there have been many positive updates with Schwab we have also had a few struggles along the way. Schwab has different processes than TD Ameritrade which have made us adjust how we communicate timelines and processes with you. Here are a few items that you can expect to be different at Schwab for the time being:
Longer processing times: Due to the increased number of clients, it is taking Schwab longer to process paperwork than it took TD Ameritrade. We have been following up with them on a regular basis to make sure that your documents are being processed correctly.
Documents needed for connecting banks: Schwab requires a voided check or a copy of a statement that shows the full account number and all owners on the account to connect a bank account. These connections have been taking 2-4 weeks to process.
Tax withholding: If NorthAvenue would like to process an IRA distribution without any tax withholdings, we are able to do so IF the client has elected to withhold 0%. Schwab requires the client to make the initial election and then we can adjust it above that election but we cannot reduce it. If this applies to you, we will do a screen share or send you paperwork to adjust your tax withholding elections.
Schwab Alliance: Schwab utilizes their client website much more than TD Ameritrade did. Having a client login set up is very important. If you need help starting to set up a Schwab Alliance account we can send you an email invitation or you can schedule a screen share with us to walk you through the process.
Sending documents for e-signature: There are two ways you can e-sign documents with Schwab: Schwab Alliance or DocuSign. The following processes require you to login to your Schwab Alliance account and approve documents: updating beneficiaries, opening an account, adding a bank account, giving access for someone to view your account and account transfers.
Notifications from Schwab: Schwab will send you an email every time there is a transaction in your account. You may notice at the end/beginning of each quarter you get an email from Schwab as that is when we are typically investing any quarterly dividends or capital gains that pay out. This is for your information only and can be archived after you have reviewed the email.
While there are other institutions we could work with to house your accounts, it is our understanding that all companies are having issues hiring and training personnel. These issues lead to longer processing times and difficulties getting consistent, accurate answers to problems. We are committed to following up with Schwab to make sure that your documents are processed accurately. We appreciate your patience as we navigate these new waters and build our processes to be as concise as possible for you.
As always, thank you for your trust and confidence in us. We are grateful for the opportunity to support you!
Your NorthAvenue Team