Make Sure You’re Accessing Your Accounts Safely

March 7, 2024

A new advisory from our partners at Charles Schwab warns that scammers are using search engine optimization (SEO) to create fake websites that appear in search results for trusted financial institutions.

Here’s how these scams work:

  • Scammers create a bogus website that masquerades as the website for a trusted finance partner like Charles Schwab.
  • They can then buy ads on search engines so that the scam site appears at the top of the page when users search for the financial institution.
  • Users click on the ad and are taken to the fake website. Once they attempt to log in, they receive an urgent error message that directs them to call a hotline for assistance.
  • Scammers answer this hotline and impersonate employees of the institution. They may then ask users to download “security” software to their device, which actually enables the scammers to hack into the user’s device.   

How to Protect Yourself

To keep your accounts safe, avoid accessing your financial institutions from a search engine (e.g., by typing “Charles Schwab” into your browser and then selecting from the search results). Instead, type the actual website address (e.g., into your browser bar, which will take you directly to the site.

You can also save bookmarks in your browser for your financial institutions, and access the sites only via these saved bookmarks. For even greater security, you can use a password manager to both bookmark sites and generate unique passwords for each site.   

If you have any questions about these steps or other security safeguards, please get in touch with your advisor. You can also read more about our cybersecurity practices, tips from the Federal Trade Commission, and steps for responding to a data breach.