My nephew and I frequently say, “In our day . . .” when we compare today with yesteryear. Here’s one thing that’s different: We certainly had con artists who’d sell people bad real estate deals or fake fur coats. However, the art of the scam has reached a whole new level. I don’t think the word existed back then. Nowadays our vocabulary includes “scam, scammer, and scammed.”
In our day, today’s telemarketing and voice mail didn’t exist. Long distance calls were expensive and billed by the minute. My frugal mother watched the clock and would say, “Well, this is costing me money, and I’d better get off the phone.” Those irritating “robocalls” didn’t exist back then, thank God.
The Internet and e-mail didn’t exist even twenty years ago. Nowadays you can bank online, register your credit card number at Amazon and other organizations and pay bills via Internet banking.
This is all fertile territory for crooks. I’m repeating personal stories about scams and adding new ones because I hope that people will take warning. When I was having a problem with my Amazon Kindle I asked the Internet for something like “Amazon Kindle support telephone #.” An ever-so-polite man with a slight foreign accent answered. “How can I help you, ma’am?” I explained my problem, saying that I was just an old lady who didn’t always understand technology. (Duh, duh, duh! — Stupid, stupid, stupid Rose Mary!)
“No problem, Ma’am. Just turn on your computer.” Suddenly he was going through lists of files. “Oh ma’am, this is serious! You’re infected with the Trojan virus. We can fix that at a moderate cost.” Wisely, I said, “Give me your number and I’ll call you back.” Bill said, “You’d better call Key Computers.” I gave technician Russ the number. He said, “This is a scam. In fact, I was in a client’s home recently when they tried it on him.” That experience taught me always to type the official name for an organization — such as “Amazon.com” — so that you get the authentic website rather than a scammer.
Shortly before Christmas, a fellow called. “Grandma, “I need help. I was in a wreck. It was a DUI, and I need to post bond.” “I’m having a hard time understanding you.” “That’s because my mouth was messed up.” “Which grandson are you?” “Grandma!” he replied in a stricken voice as if saying, “How could you?” “What is your name?” . . . “I have no grandson by that name. How dare you be so dishonest and frighten me so at Christmastime?” I was saying, “You’d better get right with Jesus,” when he hung up on me. Actually, the same guy called me last year with a different story.
I ain’t that dumb!
In any case, I absolutely wouldn’t post bond even for my husband or real grandsons if they were involved in drunk driving. Let ‘em sit in jail! One of the acquaintances of a Knightstown friend prided herself on being “sharp,” but was hit by the same scam and sent several thousand dollars.
A gruff-sounding man calls from the IRS. “You owe taxes and will be fined or arrested if you don’t pay immediately.” An IRS official said on the news, “We never telephone people. We send mail.” They also warned on the news to hang up if someone calls and says, “Can you hear me?” To give even a little information helps scammers.
This week XFINITY sent an e-mail: “. . . You must renew your Comcast Ecobill or it will be cancelled. Sign in using the link below . . . .” Comcast sends us paper bills. I talked with someone in security. Saying that this was an improper e-mail, she asked for the address upon which I was to click, said that security would investigate, and advised me to delete the message.
Folks, don’t go clicking around on unknown links or talk to strangers without authenticating them. firstname.lastname@example.org
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