Most of the phone calls I get now are scams of varying degree, yet the calls could be important, so I still answer them. Besides, hanging up on a scam takes little time, and they are easy to recognize.
Lately, I’ve been getting the same robocall over-and-over that begins, “This is not a sales call. Are you suffering chronic pain . . . ?” I don’t know the rest because I hang up at that point. Am I supposed to believe she is working for free? Of course it is a sales call. But that is a mild example of a scam.
Yesterday, I received a call supposedly from FedEx. The caller said he had a package for me containing $2.5 million. I just laughed and hung up, saying nobody would be sending me $2.5 million in cash. But, surprisingly, the scammer called back within a minute. “So, you don’t want this package?”
“No,” I replied. “And don’t call me again!” Click.
Then, I got a call from some woman who did not identify herself, but sounded like Nancy Musser. I listened while she rattled on about some charity helping homeless women, and then she ended with, “Can I count on your support?”
“No.” Click. (She didn’t call back.)
Then, a woman called asking if I was satisfied with my New Yorker subscription, was I getting it on time? We chatted for a while about the mail service. When she thought she had me hooked and it was time to reel me in, she pressed me for a subscription renewal at a big discount.
Click, I hung up. (Too bad; she sounded pleasant.)
Recently, I got another, familiar grandparent call, but the guy claiming to be my grandson had an accent and sounded nothing like my grandson, injured or not. I didn’t think I was hearing correctly and asked him to repeat his name. After the third time, he spooked and hung up. (People with strong accents should not make scam calls.)
I have a landline, not a cell phone. Perhaps this is the problem. I don’t want to teach the scammer a lesson, I don’t want to waste their time. I don’t want to get the last laugh. I just want them out of my face.
But why am I getting all of these calls? Does everyone get them, or am I on some special Patsy list? They seem to know I am (ahem) an older gentleman with money. Many are robocalls with a telltale hesitation of a second or two before they start, but others are from live people who have personal information, like my magazine subscriptions and my grandson’s name.
I have never given money to charities willy-nilly according to who happens to call or shows up at my door. I plan my giving at the beginning of each year and that’s it. I will listen to someone’s pitch and, if they prove worthwhile after a short Google investigation, I may add them to next year’s list, but would certainly not send money based on my immediate reaction. (Except for neighborhood children at my door selling Scout treats, but I recognize them.)
But deception is everywhere. Just this morning, I clicked on a news item with a photo of Jennifer Lopez and the tag line “Jennifer Lopez goes natural in makeup-free selfie.” Makeup free? She was obviously wearing tons of eye makeup. Reading the article, they did not mean that photo, but another photo where she really had no makeup and looked like it.
I don’t report any of the phone scams. All a government agency does is catalog the calls and nothing else. They already know the problem.
Oh well, I can always hang up, and if it weren’t for scam calls, I’d get no calls at all.
(There is one more insidious scam that is tough to weed out and I have no answer for: almost every recurring biller— utilities, magazine subscriptions, and such—wants your bank information so they can take the money due right from your account. This makes it easy for them, but not for you. What happens if you die or are incapacitated? The money continues to be taken out and you find your bank account is overdrawn, generating overdraft fees. It could be months before your heirs or caretaker realizes what is happening. I always pay with one check for one fee. My bank sends the checks for free; all I need to do is tell them where to send it and for how much. But companies are making this more and more difficult.)