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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

One Ringy-Dingy, Two Ringy-Dingy…

May 11, 2020

Frustrated and exasperated by scam callers? No matter our age, we are all inundated with unscrupulous boiler room calls. This is an especially serious problem for our more senior members of society. Today, I am addressing this growing, and possibly harmful issue with a few original tips I use that have reduced the number of calls I receive by more than ninety percent. Really. I may have a bit of an odd sense of humor, but I have decided that this is a game I want to win. I find it very rewarding when they hang up on me, since I know that after once or twice playing with them, they will never call me back. (So far, at least!)

scam callers

As the frequency of the calls increased, I searched the internet for solutions, and tried every one, including the most popular one recommended by so many sources—simply hanging up. While gaining momentary satisfaction as I slam the receiver to my landline into its cradle, that method failed to decrease the number of interruptions. Same for my cell phone, minus the slamming part—although once I did, and was grateful I didn’t crack the glass.

I caution about one thing: My suggestions do require actually talking to the scammers, and so it might not be the best option for everyone. But, if you or your loved one can handle the responses, it will definitely help. (No foul language required!) 

First, differentiate between legitimate items that need addressing and scams: Legitimate issues from legitimate companies will come in the form of a letter in the mail, giving you time to investigate the claims thoroughly so as to be sure it really is from the credit card company, or the car warranty department, etc. The one exception I can think of is when credit card companies call about checking for possible fraudulent charges, but in that case they tell you what charges they are checking. You don’t have to tell them anything. You only have to confirm or deny the charge—a very different kettle of fish from stinky scammers!

Let’s look at three of the current scams:

Your Car Warranty is about to Expire

  • The phone rings; you say hello and wait the 5-10 seconds for them to know they have a live one on the line.
  • “Barry” comes on the line and says your warranty is about to expire and he needs you to confirm the make and model of the car (or something similar).
  • Your answer: (This is the fun part) “My car is a 1973 Dodge Dart.” Or, pick a model more than twenty-five years old, maybe your first car, or one you particularly loved, somewhere around 25-30 years old or older, but after WW II. 😉
  • “Barry” will be incredulous, and say something to counter your answer. Just stick to your guns and tell him your car is a 1973 Dodge Dart. He will sputter for a moment, then hang up. Victory!
  • Another scam warranty company will probably call again soon. Tell them the same thing, or pick another oldie but goodie. After a very few times, you will be put on the No Dice list scammers all share (I believe) and that round of calls will (hopefully) stop.

Lower Interest on Your Credit Card or Other Scams about Your Credit Card

  • The phone rings; you say hello and wait the 5-10 seconds for them to know they have a live one on the line.
  • “Melissa” finally comes on and says you are eligible for lower interest payments on your credit card because you have consistently paid your credit card bills on time.
  • Your response: I don’t have a credit card, I only use cash.
  • “Melissa,” like “Barry” is incredulous and pushes you to say you have a credit card. She may even ask how you buy things online, or something like that. Stick to your guns again, and repeat, “I don’t have a credit card, I use only cash.”
  • “Melissa” sputters and as I/you continue to repeat the same answer, she finally gives up and hangs up.
  • Again, it will take a few times, but these calls will cease.

You Are Eligible for a Free Trip to Florida/Cruise to the Caribbean/Mars

This one has the most persistent scammers. It did take several times before they quit calling. I was tenacious, and you can be, too.

  • The phone rings; you say hello and wait the 5-10 seconds for them to know they have a live one on the line.
  • “Jessica” says you won a free trip to ___________. She just needs to confirm you have an income of more that $6400 (or some similarly low number).
  • You respond that you don’t have any income at all.
  • “Jessica” pushes, and maybe even asks if you get Social Security, or if anyone in your household makes more than $6400. Your answer: No and No.
  • “Jessica” says, (I love this part) “Well, unfortunately you are not eligible for any of our programs at this time.” Then hangs up.

While working on this a friend told me about a website and an app that can stop many of these scam callers after one ring. It’s called Nomorobo.com. However, you will miss the satisfaction for telling the scammer something that will make the never call you. I will wait just a bit to try this, until I have stopped a few more scams, just to be sure. (Plus it’s fun!)

 AGAIN REMEMBER!! No matter how sincere the person sounds on the phone, NEVER give scam callers any personal information!

There are a multitude of scams out there; these are just a few of the latest from scam callers. What is important for us to remember is: Feed them information that takes you out of the realm of possibility, like a very old car, no income, no credit cards, no bank account, you don’t pay any taxes—something that shuts them down from asking for any personal information.

Best of luck in reducing your phone ring-a-dinging!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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