In the past 24 hours, I’ve received 13 scam phone calls to my cell phone. I’m certainly not alone, as a reader told me with this comment on another scam story:
“A dear lady friend received the old one – your computer is locked and to get it unlocked you have to send $300.00 immediately. She actually sent a check. Fortunately she called me soon after, I told her to call her bank immediately explain she had been scammed and wanted to cancel the check. She’s computer smart too, so should have know better, but was taken unaware, as most elder folks would be.”
I don’t think it’s just the older folks, I know of plenty of young people who have fallen for similar scams. If I were to believe my scam callers, I am the unluckiest person on earth. Because according to the messages I received I am:
- Being investigated by the IRS and the Department of Homeland Treasury.
- My Amazon account has been used to purchase $4,000 worth of equipment that’s been shipped to China.
- My Apple cloud has been hacked and my personal photos could be made public.
- Four separate warrants have been issued for my arrest due to illegal activity on my Windows computer.
- My Social Security Number has been suspended.
- My Wells Fargo and CitiGroup accounts have will all be locked immediately due to suspicious activity unless I call NOW.
- The license on my Windows computer has expired and I will lose all service within 24 hours unless I respond now.
- My Internet address has been linked to illegal activity and I will lose all access unless I call back within an hour.
- A virus has been detected on my computer and Microsoft has locked it to prevent further infection.
How unlucky can one person be? What do all of these scams have in common? A few things.
The most suspicious is that companies are allegedly calling you about your problems. When did that ever happen? Microsoft doesn’t call you when you have computer problems. You try in vain to call them. The government doesn’t politely call to tip you off when you’ve been indicted. They come and arrest you.
The other sure tip-off to a scam is the sense of urgency. You must act right this minute or disaster will strike. The goal is to trigger a fear response and get your adrenaline pumping so hard you can’t think for a few minutes. In those few minutes, they hope you’ll give them access to your computer or send them money.
I realize the constant flood of calls can be overwhelming sometimes. And once these scammers get you on the phone the will push hard. They’ll threaten, berate, apply guilt tripe. Whatever they need to do to get their hands on your money.
I know I keep bringing this up again and again. but it keeps happening again and again.
No tech company, no law enforcement agency, no bank is going to call with a recorded message telling you about a problem. No legitimate agency or company is going to press you with a time limit. Do not engage them. Unless you want to tell them to shove their scam where the sun don’t shine.