Saturday, May 13, 2017

First, an apology. I missed my scheduled blog date last month. No excuses other than I can be a ditz at times and I just forgot the date.

Now onto this month’s rant.

About a month or so ago my husband’s cousin answered the phone only to have a man tell her that her elderly mother had missed jury duty and had to pay a fine immediately or she’d be arrested and go to jail. She was alarmed, naturally. But fortunately for her, the scammer made a revealing mistake. He mispronounced the name of the county where she lives. The local television network did a story on it you can watch here:

Anyone in the Asheville, NC, Sheriff’s Office would presumably know that Buncombe County is pronounced BUN-cum (just like the bunkum he was spinning) and not Bun-COM-bee. Until he made that mistake he had her nearly convinced and very worried.

The scammers are everywhere these days. I don’t even answer my phone anymore if I don’t recognize the number. Anyone who really wants to talk to me will leave a message. I’ve probably gotten a dozen or so messages from purported IRS agents telling me that I owe back taxes and risk going to jail if I don’t respond immediately. Good thing I’ve read about that scam in several places and knew it was fake.

And the phishing emails… Every day I get one or two purporting problems with my bank account or other utility account. It’s easy to ignore when they’re from banks where I don’t have an account, but occasionally I do get them from places I do business with and those sometimes require careful perusal.  In general, though, I don’t click on any links in those kinds of emails. If I suspect it might be genuine, I open a browser and go to the website of the bank, credit card company or whoever from my bookmarks. If there really is a problem, they’ll send me a message there.

One of the more memorable scams I had the fun of experiencing happened two or three years ago. I got a call on my cell phone from a woman who identified herself as a representative from AT&T, saying that my bill was overdue and my service was about to be cut off unless I gave them my credit card info right then.

The fun was that I recognized it as a scam very quickly since I pay my bills online and I’m totally compulsive about making sure everything is paid on time. I knew that my AT&T bill had been paid the week before, well in advance of the due date.

In my defense, I was kind of bored right then. So I argued with the woman for a bit, telling her I didn’t see how my account could be past due. She was good, sounded very professional as she said something to the effect of, “Perhaps a payment was delayed. But I’m showing that your service is scheduled to be cut off shortly. You’ll need to make a payment right away to prevent that from happening.” I managed to string her along for about ten minutes with various excuses and objections.

She finally realized I was onto her, and then the fun really began. The professional tone got suddenly very nasty. She cursed me out. No kidding. Called me a f****g b***h and other ugly names before she hung up. Obviously I’d annoyed and frustrated her. Good. Maybe I even kept her from trying to scam one other person in the time I wasted with her.  I had a good laugh about it.

But truthfully, it’s no laughing matter.  Too many people fall for those scams and are cheated out of large sums of money, sometimes even their life’s savings. I wish I knew how to stop them.


  1. I agree totally that scams phone calls are annoying and so dangerous for some people who don't recognize the scam. These callers need to get a life! They're about as annoying as hackers on FB! Good blog. Thanks.

  2. Hi Karen--
    Very good reminder about being wary of suspicious callers and emails. It's sad that there are enough gullible people out there to keep these scammers in business.