Friday, February 26, 2021

Phone Scams

The phone rang. I listened to the caller ID announcing the number, and it was not one that I recognized. It was local, but you cannot always go by that. These clever scammers have figured out how to appropriate area numbers to mask themselves. 

I listened to the message the robotic voice was leaving on the answering machine. It seems that a suspicious purchase had been made on my Amazon Prime account for $15,000+. If I did not contact them immediately, they would assume that I was okay with the purchase and my credit card would be charged.  Oh dear! I did not call them back because I don't have  Amazon Prime. 

The IRS calls me every so often as well. A stern robotic voice warns me I have underpaid my taxes and unless I call them immediately to resolve the situation, the police will be arriving to arrest me. Except that the IRS is a federal agency and they would have to send federal agents. It would not be the local police and furthermore, we have a lot of faith in our accountant who has never failed to show us what we owe to the IRS. (Even when we did not want to know.) So based on that, I don't bother calling them back either. (Side note: I have never had the police show up at my door to cart me off to jail either. So there's that.)

I get a lot of calls about my car warranty about to expire. Since we do not buy our cars new (and haven't in 24 years) we don't have car warranties to begin with. If I'm feeling especially lively, I'll take those calls just to listen, making appropriate 'oh my!' sounds. And then I say, "So which car is this on again?" They can never answer that question. They never know. They begin asking questions designed to have me provide the answer to that for them. I always say, musingly, "Gees...it just seems that if this were a real call, you'd already know which car you were calling about. Why don't you just send me something in the mail when you figure it out..."

There's the famous "We've been trying to reach you for days about a delivery." I know when I have a package due. If I feel like messing with their minds, I'll pick those up and make the appropriate sounds of curiosity, and then ask for a tracking number so that I can look up the package in question. No tracking number is ever forthcoming. 

I had a friend who used to keep a long list of every strange illness she ever heard of. The more intimate the symptoms, the more quickly it was added to her list. She lived for the moment her phone rang. The call always started with, "Hello, how are you today?" and she would start in with a long litany of "her" health woes. The hapless scammer would try to break in and turn the conversation back to the scam at hand. Dixie just prattled on and on about hemorrhoids and female problems etc. until the scammer hung up on her. 

Another friend's husband took one of the calls from microsoft. After displaying great concern about his computer, the scammer directed him to go to his computer and do 'x' and 'y' etc. Jeff sat there, quietly, not doing anything of course. After a time. the man asked if he had done that, and Jeff answered that he had. The man inquired what was on his computer screen. 

Jeff replied, "Well...porn." 

The man was shocked. "Porn?" 

"Yes," said Jeff. "I watch a lot of porn." 

The man said, "You need to close that right now." 

Jeff said, "I don't want to. I like porn. I watch it all the time. Don't you watch porn? What are your favorite sites?" etc. etc. He was obviously speaking to a scammer of high moral integrity. The scammer hung up. (side note: Jeff is not a porn addict, and never has been.)

I once answered a call from Microsoft myself. The heavily accented voice told me that he was calling from microsoft. I said, "Oh, you are not!" He didn't seem to have an answer to that, but after a moment of dead silence said, "Yes I am." I said, "You're not." He got a bit heated assuring me that he was, and I said, "Does your mama know you lie for a living?" 

Oh dear. 

The man began swearing at me, and I began laughing my foolheaded self silly. That made him even angrier. He hung up. It was so unexpected that when he called back, I was still laughing. He cussed me out a bit longer, but as I was still laughing, he hung up once again, and did not call back. 

These people are predatory. They are so threatening that it can be frightening. The simplest way to handle these calls is this: Tell them that you never provide banking or credit card information over the phone. Tell them to send the dispute to your lawyer. Ask them if they want the address. Oddly enough, they never do.


13 comments:

  1. We only answer the any phone if the caller is in our system, a very local number or are expecting a call from a strange number. Maybe I should do as you and have some fun. We too receive calls from the IRS about unpaid taxes. Of course it is unlikely the Australia Taxation Office would personally call you and it would not call itself the IRS. There are clever scammers but they don't usually use the phone.

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  2. At one time these type of calls were common but in my latest home I've hardly had any on the landline because I only use my mobile for outgoing calls.
    One thing I used to do was just pick up, answer the question to my name then hold on and say nothing, even when they got to the end of their long spiel - It would spook them and they would soon hang up.

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  3. Not many calls here in the UK, but when we were in France we were inundated, but then it was made illegal to cold call and the scam calls reduced.

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  4. We have the Telephone Preference Society, TPS, being registered on that has massively decreased the scam calls. Unfortunately they can't stop or prosecute those from offshore.
    Asking the caller for their company's phone number and physical address generally stops them in their tracks..
    We get the Amazon Prime and Microsoft scams too....it's an easy one as we don't use either!!

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  5. Most people I know no longer have land lines.

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  6. Wow, you get some very interesting scam calls. We don't get anything like that. Are these on your landline or your cell phone? We don't have a functioning landline, so that probably helps.

    I do get a lot of spam e-mails telling me my Chase account has been compromised (I don't have one) or that my car insurance payments are behind (I don't have a car) but of course I just delete all that stuff.

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  7. You are pretty darn good at spamming the spammers. I am not quick-minded or dedicated enough to do this. I usually let unknown numbers ring. Only on rare occasions do they bother to leave a message.

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  8. I never answer my home phone. It goes right to voicemail without ringing. I just check it now and then but 99% are hang-ups.

    While tempting to play with scammers, my dad learned the hard way that it could backfire. He played around with a scammer who eventually hung up and put his number on auto redial for two days non-stop. He had to leave the phone off the hook until they stopped constantly dialing his number. In the meantime, he couldn't use his home phone for those two days.

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  9. We get these on a regular basis. If I am in the mood I play along for a while but usually just put down the receiver or tell them to "go away", but in less polite terms.

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  10. The scam calls are why I no longer have a land line. When they come in on my cell, as they do, I just block the number.

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  11. I was getting calls starting out "Grandma" and when I said who is this they said I am hurt you don't even remember your grand son. I knew it was a scam call. I played along and said 'Oh Joe" I am so sorry I knew who you were, he said that is right it is Joe. No grandson named Joe. He than told me his best friend was very sick and he needed money to get to him. I named another name, he said yes that is the one. I said I remember his dad was stationed at a military base with your dad, yes grandma you remember, I said his name was Mike and he wanted to call me grandma since he had no one to call that. We went back and forth with me feeding him answers and he was always agreeable and so happy I remember all the details I was making up to give him. THAN he told me how much money he needed and to talk to his attony and they would tell me where to wire the money to. I said first I do not have a grand son named Joe, my grandsons are military (3) and they would never ask for money from me. I have not been scammed you are the loser in this call, he hung up. I received this call 3 times from different men.

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  12. I get mad at the ones who talk over you if you try to tell them you are not interested. A few years back I was getting so much spam from hispanic-sounding people that I decided to have some fun with it. When I tried to talk and they talked over me, I would sing Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs. And I have about as loud a voice as you've ever heard! What I lack in talent, I make up in volume. Eventually they'd call, but I had one fellow who stayed and made comments. Not bad comments... he just sort of talked to himself off and on. That porn conversation trick is great... made me laugh out loud.

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