Money and Madness

Our 2 Cents – Episode #167

Money and Madness

Spring is in the air, and March Madness is right around the corner! All the upcoming bracket excitement got us thinking about the similarities between picking teams and picking investments. Plus, we’ll share some helpful reminders to protect yourself against financial scams.

  1. Money and Madness:
    • How trying to pick the winning team out of 68 is just like trying to pick winning stocks.
    • How personal bias and emotions can influence your picks.
    • If you could change your picks along the way, would you? And should you?
    • Having a game plan and sticking to it may yield the best results after all.
  2. Safeguard Your Finances Against Scams:
    • Tips to avoid falling victim to phishing, vishing, smishing and more scams.
    • An important lesson from one lady who lost it all.
    • Staying hyper-vigilant in the face of advancing technology and AI scams.

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Podcast Transcript

Announcer: You are listening to Our 2 Cents with the team from SGL Financial, building wealth for life. Steve Lewit is the president of SGL Financial and Gabriel Lewit is the CEO. They’re here to discuss all the latest in financial news, trends, strategies, and more.

Gabriel Lewit: Welcome everybody. Come on down to SGL Financial here today.

Steve Lewit: Wow, that’s great.

Gabriel Lewit: Welcome to the show.

Steve Lewit: We’re having a party.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, it’s Gabriel Lewit, Steve Lewit, producer Katie here on the background. You can’t hear her because she doesn’t have her headphones on or a speaker to talk into, but she’s here.

Steve Lewit: So, you’re inspired this morning with a new beginning.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. You took me for a surprise. I thought that was great.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, we had joked about it, I think, a few months ago about my intro, so I thought I’d start something new here just for today. Come on down to SGL.

Steve Lewit: Come on down. Oh, look, there’s a line of people running through the door.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, there they are. Maybe a little too early in the morning for that here today. We’re doing this early in the morning today, folks. Sometimes we do our recording at lunch. Sometimes we do it early in the morning.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I was running a little late this morning. So folks, I get a call from Gabriel, “Hey dad, we’re supposed to do a podcast this morning.” I said, “Yeah, I’m right out here in the parking lot. Just running a little late, man.”

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, he’s listening to the State of the Union in his car when we got a podcast to do.

Steve Lewit: So, I missed the State of the Union last night. So I’m just listening to the highlights in the car and all the commentary, which was a riot in itself from both sides. So I got stuck there and that’s why I was running a little late.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, well, we have an important show here for our listeners.

Steve Lewit: We do, we do. Let’s get to it.

Gabriel Lewit: And very importantly, we’re going to mix a little bit of money and madness here. And by madness, I mean the March Madness brackets. So we have officially entered into college basketball bonanza time.

Steve Lewit: Well, madness time.

Gabriel Lewit: I didn’t want to say madness too many times. Yep, so it’s that time of the year where probably within a week or so from the time you hear this podcast, the brackets will be opened up for millions of Americans who are interested in college basketball to be able to fill those brackets out and pick their winner.

Steve Lewit: Now, Gabriel, I’ve got to give you credit. You think of these analogies, is that an analogy? Money and March Madness, that would be an analogy.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, we’re going to make some analogies, for sure.

Steve Lewit: Well, you think of these, and I don’t know what… When you go to sleep at night, do you sleep or do you think of stuff like this?

Gabriel Lewit: I think the brain goes in circles even while I’m sleeping. Who knows?

Steve Lewit: You make analogies. If I said, “Let’s do a broadcast on cleaning the rugs in the office,” you’d say, “Yeah, well, that’s like money when you wash money and spend it,” or something like that.

Gabriel Lewit: I’d probably do a better one than that though.

Steve Lewit: Probably yeah, for sure.

Gabriel Lewit: So, two parts here. We’re going to talk about the March Madness Tournament, filling out your bracket, and maybe some financial lessons we could take from that. Who would’ve thunk it, right?

Steve Lewit: Who would’ve thunk it?

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Yes, exactly. So first and foremost, how about just the concept here? You’ve got your bracket that you’re filling out.

Steve Lewit: Could you back up one step? Because there might be some folks like me who are not college followers and explain just what the bracket is.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, it’s a tournament with college teams. I don’t know the precise way that they select which teams are in the tournament. I know there’s some details around who gets in, but then there’s this big tournament to determine, essentially, I think the best team in the college world.

Steve Lewit: So, there are two brackets. Are there two brackets?

Gabriel Lewit: Just one. Just one bracket, one tournament.

Steve Lewit: You pick who you think is going to win, and then it goes to the next bracket, and then it goes to the next.

Gabriel Lewit: You’ve got, I think, how many teams? 64 teams? No, 32 teams. Hold on, maybe Katie can look this up. Hold on, folks. We’ll tell you here how many teams in the-

Steve Lewit: This is quite important in your financial plan.

Gabriel Lewit: Hold on, hold on.

Steve Lewit: Because you might not know how to bet on your brackets.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, let’s see here. Hold on.

Steve Lewit: Great way of developing retirement income from bracket picking.

Gabriel Lewit: 68? I think it used to be 64, and then I think they expanded it or something. Yeah, 68 teams.

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay, so you’ve got to pick the one winner out of those 68 teams.

Steve Lewit: But you pick each-

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, they pair off. And then you pick the winner of each pair of games, and then you pick the winner of the next 32 and then the next, and so on and so forth until you have your final two teams, and then you have to pick the winner of the final two teams.

Steve Lewit: And that’s pretty hard to do.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, yeah. Usually there’s million dollar prizes for anybody that can pick the winner or have perfect brackets, I think it is, which is almost impossible. You’d have to guess every single game correctly. And nobody ever can do that. I think one person won it maybe once or something like that. I don’t have all the stats there, but it’s very hard to do. And right from the outset, what that reminds me is imagine you had 64 stocks, or 68 stocks. Naturally, you’d probably want to pick the best one, right?

Steve Lewit: For sure.

Gabriel Lewit: Right?

Steve Lewit: For sure.

Gabriel Lewit: So, you think that’s easy to do?

Steve Lewit: Well, what if you had 4,000 stocks? How about picking the winners out of that?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, we’ll just start with 64.

Steve Lewit: How about picking the winners? Well, let’s jump to the big leagues, 4,000 stocks. How do you pick the winners out of that?

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, well, as I know you know, picking stock winners is very hard.

Steve Lewit: You bet.

Gabriel Lewit: And just like it’s very hard to pick the winner of the NCAA March Madness tournament.

Steve Lewit: I see where this is going.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s very difficult to pick the winner of individual stocks.

Steve Lewit: It is.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, how do people attempt to pick the winner here? Well, they do a couple of things which we can learn from. Some people look at their, “Oh, this was my alma mater, so I’m biased towards them, and I’m going to have them win no matter what, even if they’re not even rated very highly.”

Steve Lewit: That would be alma mater, by the way.

Gabriel Lewit: Mater, mater, tomater, tomater.

Steve Lewit: Alma mater, not an alma mater.

Gabriel Lewit: Alma mater.

Steve Lewit: Alma mater, yeah, it’s your alma mater folks.

Gabriel Lewit: Maybe that’s my mutt accent.

Steve Lewit: Your Vermont accent.

Gabriel Lewit: My blend between Vermont, New York and Chicago accent.

Steve Lewit: All right, so we look for our alma mater.

Gabriel Lewit: Now you’re getting me confused.

Steve Lewit: Alma mater.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Okay. Some people, so they have what’s called a personal bias. And I have heard this interestingly enough for many people investing in stock. “Well, I work for the company, so I’m going to buy their stock.”

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I’m going to be… “Oh, what a terrific company.”

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, gosh, we’re doing so great. So many good things, right? So I got to have my company stock, right, Gabe?

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: I am not joking when I say I’ve heard this one. Well, I really like shopping at Whole Foods or Amazon or XYZ, so I am buying their stock.

Steve Lewit: It must be a good company.

Gabriel Lewit: Because you personally, one out of six billion people on the planet or more enjoy shopping there, so it’s going to make money, right?

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: So, what happens is we get these personal biases, and we have to be careful how they impact us investing, just as we have to be careful how they impact our bracket selections, if you are inclined to play the March Madness Tournament.

Steve Lewit: And right now, people have a lot of bias towards technology because of the magnificent seven that we talked about, I think last week. It’s like, “Wow, those are great.” And we become technology is all there is.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes.

Steve Lewit: So, if you’re a basketball fan, your team… Look, when Ayesha, your sister, went to Iowa, I was a big follower of Iowa basketball and I kept rooting for them.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, so what I would suggest is if you’re picking winners for these tournament brackets, one might argue a more data-oriented approach would yield better outcomes. And one where you just pick your favorite team regardless of their ranking, statistics, competitive lineup, or any other data points that you’re just ignoring because you have a personal preference towards it.

Steve Lewit: So how do you get past that?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, you first have to recognize, I think, that you have that personal bias, and this could be anything in investing, right? Oh, I love my CDs.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, we hear that a lot.

Gabriel Lewit: I just love my CDs.

Steve Lewit: Oh, I love my cash in the bank.

Gabriel Lewit: I love my cash, I love my Apple, and I love my Tesla and I think Elon’s going to be the next quadrillionaire, and every one of his companies that he touches is gold. So we all, y’all, have our personal biases… Getting into accents here today, I guess.

Steve Lewit: I love it.

Gabriel Lewit: We have our personal biases and opinions, and that can oftentimes creep into our investments likeness.

Steve Lewit: So as soon as you put an emotion into the decision, like I love or I feel, that is an emotional decision about an investment and emotional decisions about investments usually are…

Gabriel Lewit: Well, they’re very speculative.

Steve Lewit: They’re not logical, that’s for sure.

Gabriel Lewit: They’re not rooted in data. And so I would suggest, and first of all, this doesn’t guarantee you do any better, but it’s a good start, more of a data oriented approach when you’re filling out your March Madness brackets. Actually, if you’re really into it, when you go to the sites, you can click on the little I information icon next to the teams. It’ll tell you their scoring percentages. It’ll tell you their competition level, how many they won games against higher competition, lower competition.

Steve Lewit: Who did they play well against, the kind of defenses they have.

Gabriel Lewit: You could get so much data on every team, and you’d have to spend a lot of time doing the research on here. And some people do.

Steve Lewit: People do that, yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: And they do substantially better on their brackets.

Steve Lewit: Definitely.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, I will be the first to admit, I do not spend that much time on my March Madness brackets. In fact, I just randomly pick ones. And can I tell you how well I normally do?

Steve Lewit: Yes, you can tell us. I think we know, but you could tell us.

Gabriel Lewit: I win every single time. No, just kidding, just kidding. No, I do very poorly. I bust out of-

Steve Lewit: How did you do?

Gabriel Lewit: My bracket is done by the first round of games.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, so are mine. And we do them in the office here.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, gosh.

Steve Lewit: We should have the office one going around pretty soon.

Gabriel Lewit: I think we’re going to. Yeah, I think we’re going to put that out soon.

Steve Lewit: I do terrible, just awful, just awful.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Now related to this is the phenomenon, especially in the March Madness world, of picking upsets. Okay, well, gosh, this guy’s the last rated team, I think they’re going to win it all.

Steve Lewit: We’re going to find the Cinderella team.

Gabriel Lewit: Find the Cinderella story.

Steve Lewit: Like betting on penny stock.

Gabriel Lewit: They do. People also do this with their money. You find some beaten down stock. I think Fisker, the car company, they went out of business once. They’re back alive again. I think their stock is down. Can you check, Katie? Let’s see. Fisker stock, let’s see here. Hold on. Hold on one second, folks. F-I-S-K-E-R, Fisker stock.

Steve Lewit: Can’t be worth much.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay, okay. Click the five-year mark. Okay, hold on one second.

Steve Lewit: 41 cents.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, so it’s down 90 cents. Its peak was $30 a share, and it’s at 41 cents a share.

Steve Lewit: Got to go run out and buy some.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay.

Steve Lewit: It’s the upset of the year.

Gabriel Lewit: Is it the Cinderella story? It’s an electronic car, It’s very sharp looking, actually, very pretty.

Steve Lewit: They just can’t make them.

Gabriel Lewit: Maybe it’ll turn around. You could buy it at cheap, cheap, 41 cents per share, right?

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: Maybe it’ll go to 21 cents a share. You’ll lose even half of that. So these are those Cinderella stories. People like to bet on these. You just got to be careful with this stuff. You might even bet on a Cinderella story to win one or two rounds. But are they really going to go and win it all? And how much of your own money should you bet on a Cinderella stock?

Steve Lewit: Yeah, so you have to know the difference between investing and gambling, because picking the brackets is a gamble. It’s not an investment. And buying Fisker, by definition it’s an investment, but it’s a gambling investment.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, here’s the last thing I want to say about the March Madness brackets. Imagine for a moment, now, I’ll give you a little backstory context here, when you fill out your bracket, you cannot change it along the way.

Steve Lewit: It’s blockchain. That’s technology.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s locked in. Now imagine for a second every round, you could reassess or re-change your picks with who is left?

Steve Lewit: Oh, I know where this is going. Yeah, that’d be great.

Gabriel Lewit: How many people do you think would stick to their original picks?

Steve Lewit: Not many.

Gabriel Lewit: Or would they just start shuffling things around?

Steve Lewit: Well, the original picks might not be pickable anymore because they’ve been knocked out. So what do they do?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, I think everybody would start randomly picking new ones.

Steve Lewit: Sure. And they would all do better because they’re still in the game.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, you’re going a different direction than I was headed.

Steve Lewit: Oh, darn. Okay, well, let’s go your direction.

Gabriel Lewit: Which is, as things shift and change, people think they need to make big changes.

Steve Lewit: Oh, I see. Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: So maybe the first time you picked, I’ll use an example, Kansas, they’re usually pretty good. I don’t know how well they are this year or not. Let’s say you picked them and they won the first round, and then in your original bracket you had them going all the way to the final four. But on their first game, they barely scraped out against the 16th seed by one point.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I’m not going to ride that horse.

Gabriel Lewit: You might say, “Hmm, no, no, I’m going to change that. I’m going to pick somebody else.” So what we start to do is when we see short-term results, we tend to reassess things based on whatever our brains are now reanalyzing and possibly we make changes.

Steve Lewit: We all do that. It’s so obvious, though, investing is a long-term investment. Long-term means how many years in your mind,, Gabriel?

Gabriel Lewit: Long-term in the market?

Steve Lewit: In the market.

Gabriel Lewit: 15 to 20 years.

Steve Lewit: 15 to 20 years. But what happens to a lot of people, they emotionally react. The market goes down, it’s like, “I got to do something. Oh, I got to do something,” even though their portfolio is built. Our portfolios are all weather portfolios. So it’s built to sustain these things, yet even our clients, we have some that come in and say, “Hey, why didn’t you make any changes here? Why didn’t you sell the bonds in 2022, and go into tech? Why do you have international when it’s underperforming US?” And the answer is it’s because it’s a long-term investment. And you never know who is going to end up number one. Just like in the brackets, you never know year to year to year, there’s always, usually, a different winner.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, and I would argue too, if you had done research on that pick the first time around, extensive research, really vetted everybody out, pick that company, or in this case, that team, they won the first round, you should stick with that. Maybe they just had a bad game, maybe they’ll continue to go on, but when you just randomly start picking things, and what happens is that’s what people do with investments, they think it’s based on data, but they just start to get emotional. And they say, “Well, this thing lost last year, so I should change my pick now.”

Steve Lewit: Let’s get rid of it. It must be bad.

Gabriel Lewit: It must be bad. They’re very short-term focused. And any good team in basketball could lose one game. And I’ve seen this before, where a number one seed has had a very bad first game in a first round, and then they just come storming back and just smoke every other team and win the NCAA Tournament.

Steve Lewit: You bet.

Gabriel Lewit: So, it’s important, I think, honestly, with your March Madness bracket to have a philosophy, a game plan, unless you’re just randomly picking stuff like me. If you’re trying to do better, you should be more analytical about it and the same goes for your investments.

Steve Lewit: Well, you’re a little bit more serious about your investments than you are about picking brackets for March Madness.

Gabriel Lewit: Certainly, yes, because I pay nothing for the March Madness bracket and not planning on winning anything. But yes, your retirement, your financial future, much more important. Certainly should weather warrant to a more data oriented approach and then one that you stick with versus being more emotionally driven.

Steve Lewit: Right, so if you find yourself emotionally rollercoaster about your investments, time for a commercial.

Gabriel Lewit: Then give us a call.

Steve Lewit: Good job.

Gabriel Lewit: There you go.

Steve Lewit: Good job.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay. (847) 499-3330 or email us at

Steve Lewit: Perfect timing.

Gabriel Lewit: Thank you. That was a great kick under the table there. All right.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, so what do you want to do now?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, Mr. Lewit, I will give you a choice.

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: We’ve got two things to talk about here, one is the importance of protecting yourself against financial scams.

Steve Lewit: I get so much C-R-, I won’t finish the word, but on my phone and in my email. In fact, my phone is ringing now with a spam call because I forgot to turn it off.

Gabriel Lewit: You sure did.

Steve Lewit: I’m just going to turn it off.

Gabriel Lewit: Now I get to kick you under the table.

Steve Lewit: You do. I get these spam calls and now, I think we’re going down this road. So on the internet it’s called phishing, right?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, there’s a lot of different types and we want to keep you safe.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Well, here’s the problem-

Gabriel Lewit: Help keep you safe.

Steve Lewit: People are losing money like crazy. These scams are so slick. It’s hard to tell if they’re real or not real. I think you have some data on this that people are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars at times.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, I’ll start with the story. There’s a story of a lady named Marjorie Bloom. She was a 77-year-old widow.

Steve Lewit: By the way, I don’t know what the other choice was, but we’re going down this one.

Gabriel Lewit: It seems like it, yes. And she lost her life savings of $661,000.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, yeah. I read about that.

Gabriel Lewit: To a tech support scam. And here’s what happened. Fraudsters posed as bank officials, they called her and they convinced her to wire her funds into cryptocurrency to protect it from supposed theft at her bank. And she believed them and she did it. And she lost all of her life savings of $661,000.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, in hindsight, it sounds crazy, but when it’s happening, it doesn’t feel crazy. It’s scary. It’s like, “Oh, really? I need to do that now?” Oh, yeah. And they do it.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Well, you, I know, almost fell victim to not as serious of one, but one with a piano you were going to buy at one point.

Steve Lewit: Incredible.

Gabriel Lewit: I think we might have even talked about this a couple of years ago, but it’s been a while and it’s worth revisiting. But you had been interested, I think, in buying a piano.

Steve Lewit: A baby grand piano, which I never bought, by the way.

Gabriel Lewit: And you had found somebody advertising one that seemed to be a great deal.

Steve Lewit: No, it was worse than that. A friend said, “Hey, I know this person that’s giving away a piano.”

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, that’s right, giving away a piano.

Steve Lewit: They’re giving a piano away. Why don’t you give them a call? So I gave them a call and oh, yeah. Are you a musician? Very nice people. Yeah, I’d love for you to have the piano. I said, “Great. Can you send me a picture?” “Oh, yeah.” And they sent me a picture and it’s got the ID number on it, and it’s beautiful and everything. And I said, “I’d like to have it.” She says, “Well, great. Let’s arrange for you to ship it.” Okay, so where’s the piano? It’s in a warehouse.

Gabriel Lewit: Up to this point, this sounds fine on the up-and-up.

Steve Lewit: She says, “My husband or somebody died and said, give this piano away.” It was a great story. And so I get an invoice from the shipping company for $1,400. They say, “Pay us the $1,400 and we’ll ship the piano.” And I said, “Wait a minute. Why am I paying you before I get the piano?” And then I found out it was a scam. There is no piano. The shipping company was in cahoots with-

Gabriel Lewit: Cahoots.

Steve Lewit: Something like that. Cahoots with this woman. But I’m telling you, I was ready-

Gabriel Lewit: Was it even a real shipping company? I don’t think so.

Steve Lewit: It did have a listing.

Gabriel Lewit: So, the scam, folks, is that you send your money and then no piano gets shipped to you. And then these people disappear because they weren’t real in the first place.

Steve Lewit: That’s exactly right.

Gabriel Lewit: And you are out $1,400 and it’s low enough that probably no policeman is ever going to go after it.

Steve Lewit: No, it’s gone.

Gabriel Lewit: You didn’t even call, you don’t even know where they are, so it’s gone. And you are out $1,400. Well, that’s bad enough. But imagine it was 600,000, your life savings for retirement.

Steve Lewit: It just sounded so real. And you can’t tell the difference unless the little red flag goes up in your head and says, “Wait a second.” And that’s your meter. When you feel that meter go off, listen to it. If it sounds strange or too good to be true, someone’s giving me a grand piano worth 16,000 bucks. That meters got to go off and say, “Wait a second, let me check in on this and make sure that I’m doing the right thing.”

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Now, let’s go back to Marjorie here. As we talk about this because it’s so important to keep your money safe. You’ve worked your whole life for this money, the last thing you want to do is lose any nickel or dime of it to a scam. And Marjorie, what could she have done? Well, here’s an example. If anybody from a bank calls you, you don’t give them any info. You do nothing. You hang up and you go to the actual bank or go to their actual website, make sure it’s their actual website, find the number you should be calling, and then you call them on a number that’s legitimate to them, that is their correct phone number.

Steve Lewit: So, the rule is never ever give out your personal information on the phone. Now, if you call them and they ask for your personal information, that’s a bit different.

Gabriel Lewit: And they’ll typically only ask because they have your information already. They’ll only ask for the last four. There’s going to be flags. You should never have to give out your full number to somebody that should already have your full information. But the most important thing is making sure you’re starting by always calling the correct source.

Steve Lewit: So, you know who you’re talking to.

Gabriel Lewit: Scammers are very tricky. They will try to get you, they will send you an email saying, “Click here to call the support number on our website.” And you click a website. And the link in the email takes you to a website that looks just like your bank’s website.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, that’s incredible.

Gabriel Lewit: Except for it’s not your bank’s website. And the phone number on the fake website is not the real support phone number. And they do ask for your full social and information. You give it, thinking you’re calling the actual company. So you never click email links in emails. You just go to your Google browser, and you type in your bank, So you’re going to the actual bank website, never clicking on an email, going to a website from an email.

Steve Lewit: So, if you’re getting a scam call, what is that called?

Gabriel Lewit: So, a scam call is called vishing.

Steve Lewit: Vishing, and if I get it on my computer?

Gabriel Lewit: Email is called Phishing.

Steve Lewit: Phishing.

Gabriel Lewit: And if they text you, it’s called smishing, SMS, smishing.

Steve Lewit: Is there a pishing? I don’t know.

Gabriel Lewit: Phishing, vishing and smishing, but they do. So you’ll get a text saying, “Hey, this is Chase, click here to call us.” And you click here and it takes you to a fake Chase site that has a phone number and you think you’re calling it. No, you don’t do that. You never click. If you get anything that says, “Call us, we’re your bank-”

Steve Lewit: Don’t call.

Gabriel Lewit: You call.

Steve Lewit: The bank, but you go on the bank website and call.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, I’ll give an example when something is probably legitimate, you just got to use common sense. I was at Nordstrom the other day. I bought a new pair of shoes.

Steve Lewit: It’s about time. You needed new shoes.

Gabriel Lewit: Thank you, thank you.

Steve Lewit: No, actually, I’m kidding. I’m teasing you.

Gabriel Lewit: So, I swiped my Nordstrom card, and I haven’t shopped there in, I don’t know, 10 months. Well, I then went to another department and I tried to buy a pair of socks.

Steve Lewit: You need socks too.

Gabriel Lewit: And it got declined. And within 20 seconds, I got a call saying, “This is Nordstrom Fraud Services, please give us a call back. We think there’s fraudulent activity on your card.” So what did I do? I called them. Now, why did this make sense? Well, because I was just there and I had just swiped it. It worked for one transaction, then it didn’t work on the other. So clearly they flagged it and it was obviously very timely. Now, here’s one of the other scams that are out there. You could get a random call just out of the blue saying, “This is Joe with Chase Bank,” I’m just using Chase just for simplicity here, it could be any bank, “We’ve identified your card is at risk of fraud, please call us back.” And you call them back, and it’s not Chase, it’s a scam. And they’re saying, “Please confirm your account number.”

Steve Lewit: But they sound like Chase.

Gabriel Lewit: “Please confirm your account number, your credit card number so we can check our database.” And so you’re literally giving them your credit card number and then they go and they actually use it for fraudulent purposes.

Steve Lewit: That’s right, yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: So, you got to use common sense. You never call people back that randomly leave you voicemails. You never click links in emails. You never click links in SMSs. You go to actual websites directly through Google. These are some of the steps you’ve got to take to protect yourself. Now, we’re also living in a world of AI now. You have to be even more careful. There’s more scams coming. AI can impersonate voices. You can get a call from someone that sounds like your son or daughter saying, “I’m having a little trouble. I just need $1,500 to help me through. Can you just wire it or send me a Venmo,” or whatever?

Steve Lewit: Well, when you called me last night to send you the $1,500, I sent it.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, he’s joking, folks.

Steve Lewit: I am joking.

Gabriel Lewit: So, what do you do there? Same thing. I hate to say, you don’t assume it’s your kid. Say, “Okay, guess what? I’m going to just call you back on your cell phone real quick and confirm.”

Steve Lewit: You can’t be passive.

Gabriel Lewit: You got to be proactive here.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, you got to be proactive. And the operative word that you keep saying, Gabriel, is never give out your information unless you call on the right number or you know who that person is. I get these emails, they say, “You have won something valuable, a backpack.” And it’s like, “Really?” And it looks like a great email until you look at the return address on the email and it’s XG-4XYZ.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, if you hover with your mouse on links on emails, don’t ever click them. Hover with your mouse, you’ll see an email address that looks like gobbledygook, or it says it’s coming from Chase, but then you hover over and it says, “ and it’s like, “Okay, it’s not from Chase.” It’s a spoofed email. Your friend sends you an email that looks kind of like something they would send, except for someone hacked their email and they’re sending it out and they say, “Click here.”

Steve Lewit: Yeah, we’ve gotten a few of those with client names on it that we think is coming from a client, but it’s not coming from a client.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, one that I just saw on a TV show lately, actually, which happens in real life, which unfortunately is preying against people that are lonely and vulnerable are romance scams.

Steve Lewit: Oh, yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: So, you’re out there, you’re single, you’re trying to connect with somebody.

Steve Lewit: Fall in love.

Gabriel Lewit: Literally, you have six, seven, eight weeklong texts, phone calls even. And then here’s the catch, “Oh, I’m having a little trouble. Can you please send me some money?”

Steve Lewit: Oh, one of my clients went through that. Well here’s what happened, my client, this was a romance made in heaven for about eight weeks and this woman said, “Hey, I want to meet you, but I’m going to Europe. I travel, I investigate-”

Gabriel Lewit: Travel for work, whatever. It doesn’t matter.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Well, she investigates soil. She’s like a scientist. And then he gets a call from her, “Hey, I’m stuck here. I’ve got this big buy that I can make on gold that I just discovered. I can’t get through. Can you send me 50 grand to buy this gold? And then when I get back, we’ll get together and I’ll split it with you.”

Gabriel Lewit: And that’s obviously a red flag, but a slightly more subtle version, a smarter version if one were a scammer were to say, “I’m in Alabama. You’re in Illinois. I’d love to come visit you this weekend. My credit card’s a little tight. I just need a few hundred dollars to be able to afford the ticket. Can you just send me a couple hundred bucks? That’s all I need. I’ll be able to pay for the rest.” You’re like, “Oh, sure. I really want to see this person, here’s 500 bucks.”

Steve Lewit: I’m in love.

Gabriel Lewit: And there you go, you’re out 500 bucks. So you just got to be careful. I know we’re running up against our time here. I hate scammers, my gosh. It’s like put your talent to something productive folks, but it’s multi-billions and billions and billions and billions lost to scams and you just have to protect yourself. You have to be cautious. You have to be careful. Never fall for these things by being overly protective and going back to the original source, never clicking emails, texts. If your son or daughter calls you for money, you call them back on a number you know is theirs. Just all these things you can do. And that’s not guaranteed 100%, but it’ll get you pretty darn close.

Steve Lewit: And especially if you’re a very trusting kind of person, this is a time to develop your mistrust meter and fire it up and get it working. And don’t give your money away.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes, yes. And I’m just trying to see my notes here if there’s anything else really important here. Well, this is also part of why, if you want to get a withdrawal from your investment account here, you email us. We call you on a number we know is yours on a voice that we recognize to verify. We verify the last four of your… Stuff that most scammers wouldn’t have. And obviously when we’re talking to someone that’s in your voice on a phone number that we have on file, there we go. We’re looking to protect you as much as we can, and we want you to protect yourselves.

Steve Lewit: This AI thing, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a big deal.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, it’s a very big deal.

Steve Lewit: Hey, good job, Gabriel. What was the other topic? I’m just curious.

Gabriel Lewit: We’ll have to save it for next time.

Steve Lewit: Come on, tell us.

Gabriel Lewit: It was 12 Caribbean Islands that you might want to go visit.

Steve Lewit: Darn. That sounds great.

Gabriel Lewit: Next time.

Steve Lewit: Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: Next time.

Steve Lewit: Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, our friends, thank you for tuning in. If you’ve got any experiences, actually, or stories to share of phishing that we could share with other people or phishing, vishing, smishing to share with our listeners on the next show, we would be interested in hearing any experiences that you had. It’d be interesting to share some of those. You could email us Hopefully you didn’t get taken, but you might have recognized a phishing scam midway through.

Steve Lewit: The more we share, the more aware everyone will be.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes, exactly. But otherwise, call us for anything that we can help you with. If you’d like to set up a time to talk for a financial review or a strategy session, a second opinion, call us (847) 499-3330. Otherwise, have a wonderful day. We will talk to you on the next show.

Steve Lewit: Stay well everybody. See you.

Gabriel Lewit: Bye-Bye.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Our 2 Cents with Steve and Gabriel Lewit. For any questions about your finances, give SGL a call at (847) 499-3330 or visit us on the web at and be sure to subscribe to join us on next week’s episode.

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