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Fraud … Watch Out! – By Kelly Bullis, CPA

It has become more obvious as I get older that not everybody is honest and trustworthy!

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a small business owner say about their employee that just got caught embezzling from them, “I don’t understand!  I trusted this person, why did they steal from me?” I might be rich enough to retire.

Do you have any idea how many times a year we get contacted by our clients asking us if the phone call they just got from the IRS was real or not?  (PS see a previous column entitled “The IRS is NOT calling”)

My dad and I just finished spending all day with one of the smartest folks I’ve ever met on Fraud.  About half-way into the 8 hour class, I raised my hand and asked (tongue in cheek), “Sir, from what you’ve been showing us, it appears the only safe way to live today is to unplug from everything electronic and live in a cinderblock home out in the middle of the desert.”

Now why would I blurt out such a silly statement?  Well, we had just finished going through a BUNCH of websites dedicated to helping criminals steal!!!  Legitimate websites selling products on how to counterfeit money, how to counterfeit receipts, how to put fake card readers on all sorts of payment devices, how to create fake drivers licenses, how to modify any legal document, etc.  Books and books on how to hack computers, how to skim funds, how to steal business inventory, how to falsify expense reports, how to wire money out of somebody else’s bank accounts.  Etc.  It’s enough to send any trusting person into the funny farm as they melt in absolute terror and fear over all the ways folks are trying to steal their stuff.

It suddenly hit me.  If I live my life in fear of what might happen, I will miss all the joy and special memories with my family and friends.  I think somebody once said, “90% of the things you worry about don’t happen and the 10% that do turn out not to be as bad as you thought they would.”

So, what are some of the reasonable, common sense precautions that we can take to minimize the chances of becoming a victim of a crime and yet still enjoy our lives?

Make your passwords really hard to crack.  (Test them at “howsecureismypassword.net”) ^Change your passwords often.  (At least every 6 months)  ^Put a REALLY difficult password on your home WiFi.  (mine shows up as taking 3 billion years to crack)  ^Work with your bank/broker to limit how much can be wired or ACH’d out in a single transaction without some special secret code.  ^Put a security code or fingerprint access on your phone.  ^Shred anything with your name on it before throwing it away.  ^Lock up sensitive documents in your house.  ^Don’t open any unsolicited emails.  ^Browse the internet in “Ingognito Mode” to prevent permanent cookies, etc. from being installed on your computer.  ^Never respond to any unsolicited emails or phone calls.  (Instead, call the phone number on the last statement or other document to verify the legitimacy of the contact and resolve any issues.)

Did you know that Prov 9:5 says, “Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.”
Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant with offices in Carson City and Ely NV.
Contact him at 882-4459.  On the web at BullisAndCo.com  Also on Facebook.

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