There are hundreds of warnings to seniors not to be scammed. A family member (almost 80 y/o) freaked out when he was signing papers to buy a house and there was one form that warned about wire fraud. He was convinced his personal information had already been stolen. On closer look, it was a standard form included with his signing documents to warn about wiring money to unknown parties. Basically a “Get out of jail free card” for the real estate agent and agency not to be sued. It seems to be standard if the buyer is elderly. Likely it is a federal requirement.

I am majorly insulted that because I am 70 (and granted cannot find my car keys on a regular basis) that I am assumed easy prey. As if the number of age spots on my hands equals rising stupidity. But that kind of pride is exactly what these very sophisticated scams play on. They want you to think you are so smart you don’t need to slow down the process to get a second opinion. Should I be complimented that they think I am smart? A back-handed compliment for sure. Still, suck it up, be willing to appear a fool and stop the process. Say you will call back.  Say there is toast burning and you need to call the fire department. Then do not use the phone number they gave you. Find a phone number to call from a website CONTACT page or on a bill you have from that so-called company. One scam said I paid for a $300 drone via Amazon delivered to AZ. I live in Washington state. To clear it up all they needed was my credit card info. Yeah, right. Even when my doctor’s office calls now asking for my date of birth. I tell them they know it.

Yesterday, I had an email from a certain company that offers computer firewalls against scam-ware announce they were processing a $495 annual fee. I responded that, NO, I did not authorize this transaction. I probably shouldn’t have answered at all. The scam-ware invoice was a scam itself. They are getting very tricky.

If Venmo, PayPal, or a bank etc. asks you to deposit money beware. They often make 2 deposits tallying up to $1 and then remove it, to check you out. But a scam asks for hundreds of dollars, “right now.” (I am talking to you Craigslist folks.) The more sophisticated the technology, such as apps and instant pay the more the danger. And don’t get me started on Crypto. If you can’t describe it in 15 words, it’s dicey.

In the past, I have had my computer go crazy with flashing lights and warnings saying, “Your computer is compromised, do not turn off your computer, but call this number”. I called the number and of course they were all too happy to ask for my passwords so they could take over the control of my computer to “fix it”. I called the computer software company. it was a scam.

Next time the flashing appeared I immediately turn off my computer. I feel like I have slain a dragon. (Even if I have lingering fears that I will be arrested or freeze to death for not paying them on demand). HINT: Utility companies give you 2 to 3 months warning in writing in the real snail mail before shutting down services and they all will work on a payment schedule if you actually owe them money. No legit company will demand payment in full “or else!”

If a cable company, software company, bank representative, online shopping site, etc., contacts you with a threat, or an offer for free, cheap, or anything too good to be true (interest above the going rate) …hang up. If an agent tells you that you owe money, or you will be fined, your service is about to be discontinued without a payment…hang-up. If a page turns up on your computer warning that you have been scammed. That likely IS the scam.

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause

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