How to Avoid Scams
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How to Avoid the Many Kinds of Scams

Prime women defy the usual stereotypes of females in the second half of life. We don’t want to be thought of as people who sit in rocking chairs. Nor do we want to be considered dumb little old ladies who are easy to take advantage of. Nevertheless, far too many older women (and men) become victims of scams, perhaps because older people are more likely to have some money to steal.

Scams Require Clever Perpetrators

Scammers are usually very clever people who would rather trick the rest of us out of our hard-earned and carefully saved money than work for an honest living. But, to better fool us, they do put a lot of time, effort, creativity and technology into their scams. You don’t have to be dumb to be scammed.

Below are some true stories of actual people who became involved in scams. The details have been changed to protect the vulnerable. Remember that these are only examples and today’s or tomorrow’s scams may contain new and interesting twists.

True Stories About Scams

Ransoms

The first example occurred in Canada. A woman received a call saying that her husband was being held by police and that she would never see him again unless she immediately sent $30,000. She was not to call the police since they were the ones holding her spouse. She panicked. Otherwise, she would have realized that Canada operates under the rule of law. The police are on our side and do not kidnap people.

She immediately sent the $30,000. The fund transfer was successful, but the scammers told her that it had not gone through and that she should resend. So she sent another $30,000. She was in the middle of sending $30,000 for the third time when her husband walked in the door.

Phishing

The second example involves a phishing expedition when messages are sent out from a supposedly legitimate source to extract useful data like banking information or credit card numbers. In this case, the message appeared to come from a major phone company. The woman who bit was not your usual victim. She was the recently retired head of a very large, respected organization. However, she had just spent a lot of time and effort installing services from that same phone company and the scam email appeared legitimate. It was only after she had input far too many personal details that she realized this was a scam and stopped, but by then she was already faced with changing all the card numbers, etc. that she had already sent to the scammer.

Pre-Payment for Services Scams

Writing a CheckThe third is a lovely example of a very specialized scam. It is aimed at marriage commissioners, (MC) the officials who perform civil weddings. An MC was booked for a wedding as usual. She requested her normal small fee. The scammer then told a good story about how a rich friend was paying for a good chunk of the wedding, but only wished to write one check. Would the MC take and deposit this large check and give the wedding planner a check for the balance after deducting her fee?

In this case the MC would not, so the only thing she lost was a booking for an actual wedding in the time slot she had held for the scammer. Others, wishing to be nicer to the scammer and do him a favor, lost thousands when their own check to the scammer was cashed and the check they had received bounced.

False Inheritances

Then there are all the old tried and true scams that are still out there because they still work. You have just won/inherited a lot of money and we just need a few dollars and your banking information to send it you. Your grandchild is in jail and needs bail or your mother is in the hospital and needs medical care. Maybe it is something as minor as a not quite legitimate e-tailer who takes your money and never sends what you thought you had ordered.

Some rules to avoid being the next patsy:

  • Never get involved in a transaction that you did not initiate. This is the first and most important rule and could well save your family fortune.
  • If it sounds too good or too awful to be true, hang up or delete. In the very remote case that it is legitimate, someone will get back to you.
  • Detach if you are asked for money or personal information.
  • If in doubt, verify. The victim in our first example could have saved a lot of money simply by dialing her husband’s phone. Do not believe that you have to act this instant. Even if a person is in jail or the hospital, an hour will not make a difference and you can check things out in a few minutes.
  • Ask for information the caller should have. Your bank will have your account number. If they ask you for it for verification, ask them to tell you and you will advise them if it is correct. Anyone who has seen your grandchild will know how old and how tall he or she is.
  • Do not use any links or phone numbers that a possible scammer might give you. They will be set ups. Instead, call your bank using the emergency number on the back of your credit card or question a search engine to get you to the official website of an organization for contact info.
  • To verify, use a different phone or other mode. Clever phone scammers might ask you to call the police. You hang up, but they do not so your call to them is not disconnected. When you pick up your phone, they play a recording of a dial tone and then pretend to be the police.
  • Finally, be on your guard for all the bright and unexpected ideas that scammers have yet to come up with to try and part us from our funds.

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