I learned about a local senior theater group (Sages) at a recent 100-Woman-Who-Care meeting. The WWC organization is a collective philanthropic with local chapters. The concept is 100 women (more or less) get together quarterly to collectively donate money to a local non-profit to make a bigger impact. I joined the local group to learn more about my new area’s volunteer opportunities and to help with my current philanthropic work, which is basically check writing. An added bonus – I find the meetings so positive and uplifting.
Last week I attended a short play about scams that the senior theater group did. They pick topics that are educational and meaningful for a senior population; a senior cast enacts the lighthearted plays. One of the educational elements in this play was to communicate more openly about scams. Too many people are embarrassed about being scammed and so don’t talk about it. But by sharing common scams, you are more likely to catch (and stop) the scam as it’s happening to you, because one will target you at some point.
Scams pray on emotions, both negative (ex. fear) and positive (ex. excitement). You get caught up in the emotion, not stopping to rationalize things. While the scam story is usually more involved (and very legitimate sounding), here are brief synopses of some scams the actors portrayed in the play:
- The grandparent trap. The call comes about a grandchild being in serious trouble and needing money immediately.
- The on-line romance. In this virtual world, we “meet” and get to know people on line. We feel we know them well; they are trusted friends. And then the request for money starts, just a small loan to help them out.
- The call from the sheriff department (or FBI) about a warrant for your arrest because of unpaid fines. Simply pay the fines and everything will be OK.
- The need to refund money you overpaid. Just provide your account information for direct deposit of the refund.
- The unpaid bill; your electric will be shut off immediately if you don’t pay directly right now.
- We don’t take credit cards. Just use a gift cash card to pay for an item to complete your order on line.
- Computer issue and then a number pops up for you to allow access to your computer to fix it.
- You’ve won the big prize! You just need to pay the taxes on it and we’ll then deposit your money directly into your bank account.
I had heard of a few of these. It’s hard to admit I’ve fallen for two scams myself over the years. It’s a good reminder to never give out account information over the phone, to keep access to your computer safe (especially when using on public WiFi), and to not answer the phone unless you know who is calling. Every time you even just answer a scam call, you put yourself open to more calls! On my iPhone I was able to set it so any call that is not in my contact list goes directly to voicemail. That definitely reduces the phone ringing!
So this was my PSA. Maybe it’ll prevent someone else from getting caught up in a scam.
Have you encountered other scams to be aware of?
Picture credit: another craft – recycled glass tower for the yard