Thrive Newsletter- Q3 2024

Beware of Phishing Scams: Protect Yourself from Deceptive Pop-Ups

Trusts as Beneficiaries of an IRA: What You Need to Know

Beware of Phishing Scams: Protect Yourself from Deceptive Pop-Ups

In today's digital age, cyber threats are ever-present, and phishing scams remain one of the most common and dangerous forms of online fraud. A particularly sinister tactic used by cybercriminals involves the use of deceptive pop-up windows that appear on your computer screen. These pop-ups often mimic legitimate notifications from trusted organizations, making them difficult to spot. Understanding how these scams work and knowing how to protect yourself is crucial to safeguarding your personal information.

What is a Phishing Scam?

Phishing is a cybercrime where scammers attempt to trick individuals into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal data. This is usually done through emails, text messages, or malicious websites that appear to be from trustworthy entities.

The Rise of Pop-Up Phishing Scams

Pop-up phishing scams exploit the trust users have in their computers and browsers. These scams often manifest as pop-up windows that can appear during web browsing or even when no browser is open. They may:

  1. Mimic Security Alerts: Fake antivirus or firewall alerts claiming your computer is infected with a virus or malware.
  2. Imitate Software Updates: Bogus notifications prompting you to download the latest software update.
  3. Pose as Tech Support: False messages suggesting you contact a helpdesk to resolve urgent issues.

These pop-ups are designed to look authentic, using logos and branding from reputable companies like Microsoft, Apple, or your antivirus provider. The goal is to create a sense of urgency, prompting you to act quickly without questioning the legitimacy of the message.

How to Spot a Phishing Pop-Up

  1. Unexpected Messages: Be wary of pop-ups that appear out of nowhere, especially if they claim there’s an urgent problem with your device.
  2. Check the Source: Look at the URL or the source of the pop-up. Legitimate notifications usually come from official websites or software.
  3. Poor Grammar and Spelling: Many phishing attempts contain spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. Requests for Personal Information: Legitimate companies will never ask for sensitive information through pop-up windows.

Protecting Yourself from Phishing Scams

  1. Keep Software Updated: Ensure your operating system, browsers, and antivirus software are up to date.
  2. Use Pop-Up Blockers: Enable pop-up blockers on your web browsers to prevent unwanted pop-ups.
  3. Verify Before Acting: If you receive a pop-up asking for personal information or to download software, verify its legitimacy by contacting the company directly using official contact information.
  4. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest phishing tactics and how to recognize them.

What to Do If You Fall Victim

If you suspect you’ve been targeted by a phishing pop-up and have provided personal information, take immediate action:

  • Change Your Passwords: Update passwords for your accounts, prioritizing the most sensitive ones first.
  • Notify Relevant Authorities: Report the scam to your bank, credit card company, and any other relevant institutions.
  • Monitor Your Accounts: Keep an eye on your financial statements and credit reports for any unusual activity.
  • Contact an IT Professional: They will scan for malware and viruses.

Phishing scams with pop-up windows are a growing threat, but by staying vigilant and informed, you can protect yourself from falling victim. Always question unexpected pop-ups and take proactive measures to secure your digital life. Remember, when it comes to online safety, a little caution goes a long way.

Trusts as Beneficiaries of an IRA: What You Need to Know

When it comes to estate planning, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) play a crucial role in ensuring financial security for your loved ones. An important decision for all IRA owners is who to name and their beneficiary. While individuals are commonly named as beneficiaries, naming a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA can offer unique advantages. This approach can provide greater control over the distribution of assets, offer protection from creditors, and ensure your wishes are carried out precisely. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and considerations of naming a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA.

Benefits of Naming a Trust as an IRA Beneficiary

  1. Control Over Distributions: By designating a trust as the beneficiary, you can specify how and when the assets are distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries. This is particularly useful if you want to provide for minors, individuals with special needs, or beneficiaries who may not be financially responsible.
  2. Creditor Protection: Assets held in a trust are generally protected from creditors. This means that the IRA funds can be safeguarded from the beneficiaries’ potential creditors, including lawsuits and divorces.
  3. Preservation of Tax-Deferred Growth: A properly structured trust can allow for the “stretch” of IRA distributions over the lifetime of the trust beneficiaries, preserving the tax-deferred growth of the IRA assets for a longer period.
  4. Special Needs Planning: If you have a beneficiary with special needs, a trust can ensure that the IRA distributions do not disqualify them from receiving government benefits, providing financial support without jeopardizing their eligibility.

Key Considerations

  1. Trust Structure: The trust must be carefully structured to qualify as a “see-through” trust, allowing it to use the beneficiaries’ life expectancies for RMD calculations. This requires the trust to be valid under state law, irrevocable upon the IRA owner’s death, and meet specific documentation requirements.
  2. Tax Implications: While naming a trust as the IRA beneficiary can offer significant benefits, it can also complicate tax matters. Trusts are subject to higher income tax rates, which may impact the overall tax efficiency of the IRA distributions. It’s essential to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney and tax advisor to navigate these complexities.
  3. Beneficiary Designations: Ensure that the trust is correctly named as the beneficiary on the IRA beneficiary designation form. Failure to properly designate the trust can result in unintended consequences and disrupt your estate planning goals.
  4. Regular Reviews: Estate planning is not a one-time event. Regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in tax laws, personal circumstances, and the needs of your beneficiaries. This ensures that your plan remains effective and aligned with your wishes.


Naming a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA can offer numerous advantages, from protecting assets to controlling distributions. However, it also requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including tax implications and trust structure. If you have any questions on this or any other part of your plan, do not hesitate to contact our office.