Michael's Message - Resolved: NO RIPOFFS in 2020
Whether you are rich or poor, it really hurts to be scammed out of your hard-earned money! The deceit, manipulation, and loss can devastate you financially, and even emotionally. It is especially irritating to know that scammers see seniors as “easy marks”. Let’s all make a resolution for 2020 that we are NOT going to be victims!
- First of all: Hang up the Phone! … or don’t answer calls from unknown numbers at all. If you have caller ID, they can now “spoof” the call to make it look like it is coming from a number or company you trust or recognize (like Apple, or your bank), which is just a trick to get you to answer. These scammers claim to be from places that do not call people, like the IRS, Social Security Administration, Sheriff’s office for Jury Duty, your credit card company, from Microsoft about “viruses” or “updates”, wanting you to turn over control of your computer … even from a fake “grandchild” in trouble somewhere needing money.
These calls can sound very important and the caller may threaten you with dire consequences of various types. The caller has no real power over you; the scammer’s goal is to get their hands on your money one way or another. They will want your credit card information or urge you to send money or even gift cards to them to solve the issue. Don’t!
If you do get drawn into a conversation, get a phone number and name to call back, and then hang up and go to Step #2 below. They know that seniors do not want to appear rude and are more likely to stay on the phone. If in doubt, hang up. Who cares what a scammer thinks about your manners?
- Seek out a savvy person — or ANY other human being — to get advice… Describe the phone call, or show someone else the letter or email you have received asking for money or for you to take some other action. This simple step of getting a second opinion, from an adult child, a sharp teenager, or college-aged grandchild, or a neighbor or friend, or even from someone you know at Shipley Center, could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars and/or keep your identity from being stolen. The scammer is counting on seniors being alone and isolated and will push you to make decisions without consulting anyone else.
- Don’t fall for computer or internet scams… Delete anything suspicious and be suspicious even of those that look legit! Some examples: If a box pops up on your computer, saying that you have a virus and need to call them right away, don’t. They will remotely take over your computer, taking it hostage for ransom, charging you money to get control back. If an email claims to be from “your bank”, walk into your bank to ask them if the email was legit. Don’t click on any links! Don’t answer emails asking you to “update your information on file”, or “verify” your password or credit card number or social security number. Don’t accept free offers to “check your credit score”, as it may be a ploy to get your social security number and steal your identity. Don’t make urgent calls to their number! That just turns an internet rip-off into a phone rip-off!
Another scam to get you to “click” on harmful links in an email is the claim that “your order” or “your delivery” from FedEx or Amazon or Ebay needs your attention. If it says “click here”, you probably shouldn’t, especially if you did not order anything. And, finally, NO, you did not inherit millions from England or Nigeria or any other unknown aunt or uncle or royalty. If it is too good to be true, it is false! I personally know an intelligent senior who lost $75,000 on that scheme!
Let’s all resolve to not be ripped off ever again. This will leave us all with more funds to support ourselves and our families and the legitimate causes we care about in 2020!