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Don’t Be a Victim of a Telephone Scam

By: Christine Stone, RN, BSN

Telephone scam “artists” can be hundreds or thousands of miles away, yet they still manage to accomplish the same feat.   All they need is a telephone to make calls targeting naive or inexperienced people, and make off with their hard-earned money or life savings.

You, like many citizens, probably receive multiple unsolicited calls per day from would-be charities or collection agencies.   These calls annoying and interrupt our home routines. Often a stern voice on the other end of the line is informing you of a “final notice” and  instructing you to “press the number “1” to get started.”   If you’re gullible enough to press “1” you’ll be connected to another stern voice asking for specific information about your credit cards and bank accounts. 

Some of these callers falsely claim to be endorsed by reputable organizations such as AARP, Catholic Charities or The American Red Cross.  Or they may claim to be a service technician with a Microsoft Windows computer company or a medical alert company.   Some scammers pretend to be calling on behalf of a child or grandchild in trouble and needing money.  

Remember, the IRS never calls citizens informing them of overdue taxes and they will not  send the police or sheriff to your home.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

According to the FTC, there are certain guidelines that should always be followed when receiving telephone calls from strangers.

  1. Be skeptical of any unsolicited sales calls that are pre-recorded.
  2. Never give out you social security number, credit card number, or bank account number.
  3. Never give out your passwords or PIN numbers.
  4. Never agree to send money or wire money to anyone.
  5. There is no such thing as a “one time offer.” Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a commitment over the phone.

The skill and talent of telephone scam artists continues to grow every year.   There is no limit to the range and depth of the possible scams.  By being aware, alert and following the simple guidelines listed above you will be able to protect yourself from these clever theives.