Being Open about Scams

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

23 thoughts on “Being Open about Scams

  1. I’m embarrassed to say I fell for a scam, but I’ve avoided many more. I actually wrote a post about my experience, hoping others might benefit from it. But it’s still so embarrassing since I should have known better. I panicked and just responded.

    I can’t believe they’ve started using text messages to try to get information from you. Wish they’d use their talents in more constructive ways!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it is embarrassing; I almost deleted the line about having fallen for 2 scams myself. But sharing them I think helps others to not be taken in… to catch it before the panic response. Emails, phone calls, text messages…. it’s almost more contact than real people!

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  2. I can understand getting taken by a scam once or twice in your life. Recently we began talking to a nice and talkative lady working at a local hamburger restaurant. She has told us about being scammed numerous times with romance scams. She would tell us about paying payments to her bank for loans she made to pay off scams. Then, in the next breath she would tell us about her latest boyfriend she met on the internet that is building her a new house two states away and that it is hers as soon as she finishes paying him $5,000 to help with costs. She won’t listen to any warnings. “It’s real this time!” she will say. She is a lifetime sucker.
    I got ripped off once by an auto body man who requested money up front to pay for parts. In the end, I got a poorly repaired car that took forever to get it back from him. I constantly get texts and phone calls that are scam related. One must be fully alert and very careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your story about that woman is so sad. But you are correct, it’s important to be alert. So many scams sound legit, and I want to think people are trustworthy. I do believe that talking about them helps so more people become aware. And maybe, just maybe, it is “real this time” for her.

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  3. The scams I’ve seen have to do with home repairs. For instance, we had a hail storm, a fly-by-night roofing company shows up, climbs on the roof to get a pic of the damage, then shows you how awful it is up there– if it even is your roof, of course. A few neighbors took the bait, picked out new snazzy shingles, and got new roofs BUT after the company was long gone the neighbors realized that they all had the same shingles, ones that were of lesser value than what they’d paid for. You can look down the street now and see all the same dull shingles on certain houses. It’s sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This morning I got a text from my bank stating they suspended my debit card. Click on the link and confirm my last five purchases. I didn’t click on the link, but I copied the web address and called it up on my PC. It looked a little odd, like not my normal bank site, and there was some sort of flag that said “not secure.” Still, I started to type in my card number. Then I saw they wanted my SSN. I closed the window and called my bank. It was a scam. The bank said their texts will always include the last four numbers of my card.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, isn’t it scary how real they can look? Someone mentioned looking at the email address the message comes from – I know I’ve done that on a couple of things that ended up being scams. My hubby just got phone call yesterday claiming Amazon order needed to be confirmed and to call them. Hah – Amazon never calls! I guess I need to remember, anything with credit card or bank, call them direct, with number you know.

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  5. I see more and more scam attempts in my email inbox (it seems like my email provider used to do a much better job sequestering them). I am currently able to see these for what they are but wonder about future me – which, of course, is what they are hoping for. I never answer my cell phone unless I know the caller. Sometimes I miss legitimate calls but if they are legitimate, they will always leave a message. It’s sad that we have to protect ourselves from scammers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I’m exactly like you. If it’s a legitimate call, they will leave a message. However, I have had scammers leave messages too! (I don’t call back.) And yeah, I do wonder about the future if my cognition begins to shift. My mom has decline there and I worry about her on scams a lot!

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  6. Great post! I was almost scammed twice – the first was for a stay-at-home part-time job and the other was when I tried to sell some furniture online. Fortunately, I caught on pretty quickly both times and nothing was compromised. Thanks for spreading the word about these awful scams. The people behind them should be ashamed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you caught them in time. The intent of the play, and my post, is to raise awareness so they are caught before any damage is done. Because I don’t think they will stop. I get 5+ calls a day at least (direct to my voicemail) and no idea how many emails (my system sends them to trash automatically).

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  7. This was a well-constructed scam. My 80+ year old aunt got a very friendly call on her landline from a local brand-name bank officer to correct a deposit on her account. It was her bank’s name, but as it turned out, no one by that name worked there.

    She got scammed out of some money, but had told her financial PoA before he called back the second time. Future disasters averted.

    However, she had to change her essentially life-long phone number which caused her some emotional distress and many phone calls to various friends/businesses to update her number.

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  8. Interesting they put on a play about it. It’s so important thst people are made aware of these things. In Canada they always say it’s Revenue Canada and we owe them money. Revenue Canada never ever phones people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The revenue service here also… and the electric company and the sheriff office and the list goes on! I’m really glad I’ve been able to set up my phone to send any calls not in my contacts direct to voicemail. I wish I could do the same for my mom’s phone… but her’s is a much more basic model.

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  9. I’ve come close once, but woke up to it before it went too far and cost me any money. My mum has been scammed twice – both times for several thousand dollars. She laughs it off because she’s embarassed to have been duped (and that makes it harder to have a serious conversation about it). I’ve told her NOT to send money to anyone without checking with me first – hopefully that’s sunk in now. I was particularly cross because the first time she went into the bank to t/fr the money and one simple question from the teller about whether she knew the person could have saved a lot of heartache.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great topic to raise awareness of the multitude of scam scenarios around. Thankfully I haven’t been scammed yet but I can fully appreciate how easily it can happen. When others are brave enough to tell their stories about the scams that have tricked them, it helps us all to be more vigilant. No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed. Scams can happen to absolutely anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I get calls all the time about my electricity bill (I’m off grid) my internet, etc. The giveaway is usually a pause, a click, then a foreign voice saying, hello ma’am… As my phone is extremely basic I can’t block or identify so I just put the phone down straight away. The funniest scam emails I got, and still get, are from people who say they hacked my web cam, recorded my pornographic doings, and will tell all my friends if I don’t pay them. I have no webcam, never watch pornography, and my friends would just laugh…besides which I know perfectly well they haven’t hacked anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I got that pornography scam once too… forgot about that one! I do think it’s helpful to hear about the range of scams so if you get targeted you’re more likely to catch it quickly and shut it down Thanks for sharing your expereinces.

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