Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Scam of a Different Color

I frequently report on scams aimed at seniors.  They usually look a lot alike. But recently Mom experienced one that was a bit different. It went something like this:

Caller: "Hello, I'm calling from Readers' Digest about your recent order."

Mom (who orders RD for my brother every Christmas):  "Is there a problem?"

Caller: "No problem with your order, but prices are going up considerably next month. You might want to lock in today's price by renewing your subscription for several years. I can offer you a two-year renewal for $47.50. Which credit card would you like to put that on?"

Mom:  "I think I put it on my Visa."

Caller: "Can you give me that number again? Let me make sure I have it right."

Mom went to get her credit card and then thought better of it. She told the caller she wasn't interested. He tried some more to cajole the number from her, but fortunately she remembered what I've told her and hung up.

Friends, please tell you parents to be careful with calls from strangers. Just because someone says he's from a company you know or even do business with doesn't mean he really is. When in doubt, have your mom ask for a number she can call the person back on. They will probably refuse or say you can’t get that rep back, but in that case, I wouldn’t continue the conversation.

This caller happened to luck out since Mom actually had just ordered a subscription renewal. But by using the name of an established and well-known company familiar to that generation, he gained access and got her talking. I'm sure that in the course of the conversation, she gave him enough information for a clever person to maneuver and get the prize he wanted--her credit card number. Had we not so recently had the conversation, I'm sure she would have given it to him.  

Please have the conversation frequently, and if your parent is on the Internet, also talk to them about phishing. Some of those emails look real enough to fool even me. That generation grew up on trust and honesty. Trying to learn the skill of wisdom is harder for them.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/library_of_congress  

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