Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We hope all of you are enjoying the season and spending quality time with friends and family.

Unfortunately, the holiday season that brings so much joy also brings much fraud. We’ve recently seen it firsthand and want you to be on high alert.

Please consider the following:

1. Treat emergency requests and online pop-ups with great skepticism.

Often used as a first step, pop-ups appear on your computer or cell phone with dire warnings. “Your computer has been hacked … act now … call now … click here.” Don’t do it! A sense of urgency is usually an integral component of the scam – and a major red flag. And we can assure you – the alleged “Microsoft security representative” on the online chat does not know what is happening with your banking and investment accounts.

2. The same goes for telephone numbers you don’t recognize.

“Spoofing” is the process of hiding the true origin of a telephone call. A call appears to originate from your hometown; its true origin might be overseas. If you don’t recognize a telephone number, consider letting the call go to voicemail. Legitimate callers are likely to leave messages; fraudsters are less likely to do so.

3. When in doubt, reach out!

Professional thieves are behind many scams – and they are good at their job. Many are skilled at developing trust over the telephone / online and creating a sense of urgency. Slow down and follow your instincts. Synovus will never direct you to deposit cash in a bitcoin machine or buy Amazon gift cards. Likewise, Synovus will never advise you that “your accounts have been hacked by a source in a local branch – you can’t trust your investment advisor or personal banker.” You can alwayscall us or visit a bank branch. When in doubt, reach out!

Holiday Cheers to All … Merry & Wary at Gracestone –

Natalie, Casey & Shannon