In this crazy world of school shootings, horrific cases of animal abuse, and other nasty happenings, the phone scammers are also in full force.
Just over the past month my brother (in Kingman) has received four phone calls from crack pots. No matter how many times people are warned, they still remain vulnerable. The classic, and one of the most popular, is the grandson who is either in jail, or who has been involved in a serious accident. It may start out with, "Grandpa, is that you?" Grandpa may unknowingly respond with, "Yes, it is me, is that you Kevin?" To which the caller will respond, "Yes, I am in big trouble Grandpa, and I really need your help."
From there it can money for bail, medical help, or to get the car out of impound. Whatever scam they are using, it may be late at night and Grandpa or Grandma is taken completely off guard. How could they NOT help their grandson who they dearly love?
Even though it may not sound like anyone they know, they still believe they need to send money. Once you have been snookered, you will be told just how the money should be sent.
Moving right along, the IRS scam is another popular one. You will get a call from someone with a private phone number who is claiming to be from the IRS.
"After reviewing your tax return from LAST year, we find that you were overpaid and now have a balance that must be paid back immediately, or you will face a heavy fine." No matter how many people may tell you the IRS does not make personal calls, what if they are wrong?
Another dandy is the call from your local sheriff or courthouse regarding some unpaid fines you have. This one usually works for anyone who has EVER been involved with the court system. They may even offer to send someone to your house to pick up the debt so you can avoid jail.
One that I get pretty regular is the "I am calling from Microsoft and we need you to go to your computer as we have found some problems." This one can be pretty funny if you don't have a computer. I told one of them once, "I no longer have a computer, so you are full of crap!" That may have been a bit too harsh, as they called me every day for weeks just to hang up. I can only assume they thought I had a cellphone and were trying to blow it up somehow.
These scammers will often call you by your name right away. That way you know they must have some information about you. They also use a "burner" phone and even if you write down the number, it becomes useless. The elderly are the best targets for these scams, especially the ones that involve grandchildren in trouble. At the very least, it is YOU that needs to question these calls. Once you provide them with any further information about yourself, they will often sell it to other scammers. If you have caller I.D. you may just not want to answer a number you do not recognize. Sometimes, after several of these calls, you may want to just say, "I am not interested." I sometimes will say, "I am just house sitting, and the people you are asking for are on vacation in Guam. Would you like that number?" That can sometimes get you off their call list for a while.
I have always been a suspicious person by nature. I question a whole lot of things. Maybe I have trust issues. Who knows? In any case, keep your guard up! You need to be the one asking all the questions when these calls come.
Here’s a link to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s website for more information on how to protect yourself from scammers. (https://www.azag.gov/seniors/consumer-scams)
Be smart about your information and your money!