Diary of a Seasoned Life – Prevent Being Scammed

The City of Rockwall Police Department has been making an effort recently in trying to get the word out to protect seniors or seasoned life people against current scams. The police have received multiple reports of certain types of scams that have a common theme.

One of the scams that is very rampant is someone calling to say they are with the IRS and wanting to warn you that you are about to be arrested for overdue taxes. They try to get you to pay now to avoid being arrested. The most important thing to know in these situations is that the IRS will never call you about back taxes. They will communicate via mail, if there is an issue. Just hang up!

Caller ID is a valuable tool in helping to determine if the person who is calling is familiar to you.  Although there are some scammers who have the technology and devices to fake a phone number on caller ID, I suggest that you just don’t answer the phone for any number that is not from someone you know. If it is important, let them leave a voice mail. If you happen to still have an answering machine, you can listen to the first bits of the message to determine whether to pick up the call. Most telephone marketers and scammers will not bother to leave a message.

Another scam the police mentioned is someone calling pretending to be a family member who has had an emergency and needs money wired right away. Many times these are scammers who have seen names on social media and garnered enough information to convince you that they are your relative. You can always throw out a question to this person that only the real person would know, but it needs to be something that cannot be found out through Facebook or other social media. Another tactic is to tell the person you will call them right back. A scammer will try to pressure you into getting the money and convince you to not hang up. The real relative should be fine waiting a minute. Obviously, if it was a scammer, you will call your relative and discover it was not them who called.

The police also warned of in person scams that become more a problem as the holiday shopping season begins. Scammers are casing parking lots of shopping centers or malls looking for people “who are interested in a great deal” on an XBOX or Apple tablet (or some other highly desirable item). They will claim they overbought and the boss is on their case to move the merchandise at any cost. The motto of “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” is what the police suggest you keep in mind. Much of the time that $100 XBOX was a box filled with rocks. I would like to add that you just pass anyone by in the parking lot that approaches you with a simple, “No thank you.”

Another type of scam I would like to discuss is what is called “phishing”. Phishing is an email scam that comes in a variety of ways, but the one thing in common is that they always are trying to get you to log into some account, whether it be your email account, bank account, credit card account, Facebook, and so on. The emails usually claim they are requiring an update in your account information or there is some problem and they provide a link in the body of the email for you to use to log in to your account. These emails often look very official with company logos and addresses. Do not fall for it. These links are taking you to a fake website that when you enter your user name and password, they have now captured your information to hack your account. When you get any email that looks like this and you are not sure, open a new tab in your browser and type in the web address for the company who (supposedly) sent the email. Log in from the company website. If they truly sent you a message, you should see some notice in your account messages prompting you with instructions.

It is also important to also be cautious of opening attached files from emails of people or companies for which you currently have no relationship. These attachments are often filled with viruses that can harm your computer or steal your information. If you have a wireless router in your home, be sure to make it password protected. This will help prevent scammers from hacking into your devices.

The main message in all of these types of scams, is to BE CAUTIOUS. Do not make it easy on scammers to take advantage of you. Don’t answer the phone, door, or emails from people you do not know. If it was truly important, they will leave a note, message, or send you a letter in the mail.

Author: Kim Lawrence

After owning a successful distribution business for 18 years, Kim’s life was turned upside down when her mother suffered a major stroke. She had to suddenly take over not only the care decisions for her mother, but also manage her mother’s business affairs, home, finances, and estate. This was all in addition to managing her own business and personal situation. This blog is to help tell the story in the hope that what she learned, and is still learning, will help guide others if they are or suddenly find themselves in a similar situation.