It’s time for us to be rude on the phone. There, I’ve said it. “Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite.” So says the FBI’s website page describing scams aimed at seniors.
I’ve thought this for a long time, having done informal polls among friends, but now it’s official. Additionally, says the FBI, we’re targeted because we have savings, own a home and have good credit, which makes us attractive to scammers.
We have the money — they want it. But scammers are tricky. On that FBI page is a video of a former FBI director who, along with his wife, was targeted in a scam. Of all people who should have instantly realized what was going on, he was one. It was his wife, listening in the background, who made the connections. In the end, even after multiple ugly physical threats, the director didn’t cave in. The scammer went to jail, of course.
But it points out how vulnerable we often are, especially when faced with sweet-talking scammers who are offering us a lot of money ... and who then switch over to threats if we don’t immediately do as they say and either send them money or give them access to our accounts.
Whether it’s a tech support scam (“Your computer has a virus and we can fix it”) or a grandparent scam (“Your grandson is in jail and needs money for bail”) or a lottery scam (“You’ve just won $5 million”), it’s all the same — a scam. To protect ourselves, we need to hang up the phone instantly when there is a likely scammer on the other end.
Yes, when we were growing up, this kind of behavior would have been considered rude. But this is a whole new world, and it’s full of bad people who think we are trusting. We’re not, right?