Scams!

Of all sizes and shapes –BEWARE!

Like all of you –my regular readers –I have been getting scam phone calls and emails for many years. So far, I have not been bitten, but news reports and personal experience indicate that the pandemic has unleashed a new wave of fraudsters seeking your money!

Today I got a new one, which I am sharing with you for your protection [like your mask]..

The caller – a young, male voice somewhat similar to one grandson- said, “Hello, Grandfa” (my regular name to my grands). “I have a problem – I was in a car accident and broke my nose, which is why you are having a hard time understanding me. I was in the East at a school reunion and I need help…”

I broke in and asked what he had been doing in the East amid stay-at-home orders. Then, I asked him what my mother’s nickname was. He abruptly hung up.

This was a first-time experience for ME, but the scam is sufficiently widespread that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau includes it in a list of coronavirus-related scams making the rounds.  Others include thieves pitching cures, treatments, air filters and other non-defenses against Covid-19; fake charities claiming to be helping respond to the crisis; infinite varieties of the ‘person-in-need’ story I encountered; and various pitches around supposed problems with your Social Security or Medicare benefits. For those of you who are more experienced (since I’m 89, relatively few of you can make this claim) and quicker witted (possibly all of you!), this might be old stuff. For me it was one newer trick in the bags of scammers. They must have a miniscule success rate (a fraction of a percent, I’d imagine) but the cost of trying is negligible, and, as my experience shows, they’ve learned to bail quickly and move on to the next mark.

Pandemics, it turns out, are well-suited to the aims of people trying to unscrupulously separate you from your money. We’re all on edge to begin with, and out-of-sorts from months of disrupted routines. With most offices closed, we’re all too familiar with hours-long waits on hold, and therefore more inclined to take things we’re told by strangers at face value (since the burden of verifying is high).

I might have written down the calling number, but it’s one of the great shortcomings of our connected world that, in 2020, our telephone network can’t guarantee the most basic of things – that the number displayed by Caller ID is, in fact, the number that is calling you.

So, I’m left to shrug my shoulders, be thankful I didn’t fall for this latest scam, and, share it with you in the hope of sparing others from the risk!

 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created under the Obama administration in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, has a summary of common scam techniques and ways to protect yourself. Visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/beware-coronavirus-related-scams/

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