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Tricks, lies, and phone calls

August 3, 2011

What I’m about to share isn’t an email forward.  It really happened, and it happened to my family just this morning, August 3, 2011.

This morning my mother, who lives in Ohio, received a phone call from someone who asked for her by name.  The caller told her that her daughter Lisa (that would be me) had been hospitalized and that there was a collect call with information.  She was asked if she would accept it, and she said yes.  The caller then told her that there was a problem and the collect charges weren’t going through, and in order to put the call through to her, they would need a credit card number.  Mom had the presence of mind to realize that this couldn’t be right…that we had cell phones to call her and that a hospital would never call her collect to give her info as a next of kin.  She told the caller that she couldn’t do that, and the caller immediately hung up.

Mom then called my house.  My daughter answered and told her I was home and sleeping.  Mom then called my husband’s cell phone, and he confirmed we were all just fine.  I called her back shortly thereafter.   She said she realized that the caller was attempting to scam her, but it had really scared her that something had happened to me.  I assured her that I was fine and that she had done the smart thing.

My mom is in her mid-70s.  She isn’t tech-savvy.  She doesn’t get panicky email forwards or browse the internet or read Snopes.  But she was sharp enough to not let her common sense be swayed by the panic that the caller had actually used my name.  Many older people are confused and taken in by these scammers, though.  They sound legit and they prey on emotions that they themselves stir up.

Please…if you have older friends and relatives who are vulnerable, talk to them.  Tell them that these scammers really do exist and that they will try to talk smart people into doing unwise things by scaring them with lies.  Tell them that if something ever happens to you or someone else, that they will never receive a collect call from a hospital or law enforcement agency, and that they should never had to pay for information about a loved one.  Tell them that you will always do your best to see that they receive a personal call.  Tell them…because chances are, they just don’t know.   And the worst time to find out is after they’ve given away personal information that could be personally and financially devastating.

Feel free to share this blog with people you care about.  Spread the word.  Protect your loved ones with communication and information.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 9:47 am

    This leaves me worried for my parents, both with Alzheimer’s, I don’t know that they will remember the warnings or heed them. Thankfully my brother checks their accounts frequently. Daddy already donated money to some such nonsense, used his credit card. If it came to his kids he would definitely give that information.

    • August 4, 2011 9:57 am

      Joann, do they NEED credit cards? These scammers often have ways of getting credit card money from the elderly that is actually legal, though completely morally and ethically bankrupt. Could your brother keep their credit cards so that the use of them has to go through him, and your parents then operate on cash and checks the old school way for most of their needs?

  2. Kellie permalink
    August 4, 2011 10:38 am

    Thanks, Lisa! That is absolutely crazy and so grievous! Did she report it? Do a *69 or have any way to trace it? Crappy con!

    • August 4, 2011 10:42 am

      I doubt it on either account, Kellie. I’m not sure who she’d report it to, and I don’t even know if she’d know about *69.

      • Julie permalink
        August 5, 2011 5:48 am

        Mom and dad did report it, but they were not very helpful. The police said that it happens all the time and she is not the first nor will she be the last. The caller id had private number on it so *69 would not help in this case. Grrrr!

  3. sandy permalink
    August 4, 2011 12:41 pm

    I have read about this in the newspaper. I’m so glad your mom followed her gut feeling. There are a lot of folks at Twin Cities Pavillion that can use this info. I will pass it along.

  4. August 8, 2011 11:09 am

    Thanks for this Lisa!!! passing it on!

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