A n overseas scammer who probably thought he’d found an easy mark when he called a 76-year-old Rockdale resident to threaten he’d “cut off her Social Security and Medicare benefits” if she didn’t reveal her checking account number, found out differently last week.
You can read how Mary Yates handled the situation in a story on page 1A. Basically, she used excellent common sense, asked herself, and the scammer, the right questions, stood up to this lowlife and hung up on him.
Twice. Yes, he called her back.
That’s just what Reporter columnist Ted Hubert, who writes a weekly column giving tips on all kinds of scams and identity thefts, has been advising for more than a decade through over 500 columns.
While most of the scam attempts nowadays are on-line, and impersonal—the same e-mail will go to thousands of computers—there are still a few with the audacity, and lack of conscience, to call one person on the telephone and try to cheat them face-to-face. Or ear-to-ear.
Like dealing with a snake—don’t put your hands where you can’t see; watch where you step—there are some common sense rules for dealing with these human snakes.
You know them if you’ve been reading Hubert’s columns. But, just in case, here they are again:
• If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Nobody will give you 20 gazillion dollars that’s not yours from a bank account halfway around the world. No, really.
• You can’t win a lottery you didn’t enter.
• If somebody tells you that you don’t need to check them out—Mrs. Yates’ caller did— that means they’ve just lied about who they are.
• Deal with local business people, not those who just show up at your door out of the blue.
It would be nice to think Mrs. Yates disposed of the last scammer who will ever trouble Rockdale residents, especially elderly ones.
Of course, that’s not the case. But it would be about as nice to think everybody here would deal with one the way she did.—M.B.