There is a special place in hell for people who scam seniors or anybody for that matter! I’m so annoyed. I have a long story, but I will try to keep it short. I was on the phone with my mom Saturday morning and she said she needed to catch a call on the other line. I asked who it was and she said, “This lady.” She is usually very upfront with me, so her vagueness of course triggered more questions. I asked, “Huh? This lady? What lady? About what?” She responded, “This lady who is giving me some information. I’ll call you back.” Turns out, a lady called and convinced my mom that she had won $1.7 from Publishers Clearing House.
My mom, (against my wishes) is always buying magazines and knick knacks from PCH, so of course now she feels like her diligence and hard work have paid off. I have no idea what information my mom gave her, and my mom couldn’t remember all the details of the conversation, but that was Saturday morning. Apparently PCH would be coming to deliver this prize money Monday afternoon at 4PM.
The short story is that when the lady finally calls back with more details, she wanted my mom to go withdraw $3500 cash from the bank and send it to her FedEx. She would arrange to have FedEx come to our house with a envelope and pick it up. Seriously? Fortunately, I was listening to this entire request and had my mom give me the phone. Thinking that I was about to pull my own personal ABC Dateline investigation and bust, I didn’t let the lady know I was on to her, but I told her how ridiculous her request was. I even turned on my cellphone recorder to record our conversation. Of course she reassured me that she was legitimate and I had nothing to worry about. I took her number and told her we would call her back.
I then called our local police department and spoke to a detective. She was nice, but of little help. The detective was pretty sure that PCH nor the lady we spoke to would be sending anyone to our house and that the person is probably overseas somewhere. (Duh! I know that.) The detective said that the goal was likely just to get us to send the $3500. (I knew that too.) I just wanted to take them down. A sting operation maybe? Something. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that could be done. I put the callback number she gave me in Google. Of course it’s not a real phone number. I’m fairly certain they won’t show up at our house. The lady had a thick accent and is probably somewhere overseas. I guess at this point the only thing to do is to put a flag on credit reports to notify us of any strange activity.
This entire situation really ticks me off because I know there are people who actually fall for this stuff everyday. This woman has probably collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting people.
Bad people will always be around, however there are things we can do to protect ourselves.
Here are a few things to consider to avoid being a victim of a scam.
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
2. No legit company will ask you to send money in order to receive money.
3. Never give personal information like your social security, bank account or credit card numbers out over the phone.
4. DO not make donations over the phone to organizations that cold-call you. Instead, seek out reputable organizations on your own.
5. Register your phone number with the “Do Not Call Registry” online (link) or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
6. Assign a Power of Attorney to a trusted family member or friend to help you make important financial and life decisions.
7. Always remember, you have the right to hang up if a stranger on the phone is trying to pressure you into doing something you are not comfortable with or feeling wary about.
For more information on senior scams or if you suspect that you might be a victim of a scam, contact one of the organizations below:
Better Business Bureau
Federal Trade Commission
National Fraud Information Center