Scam: Just hang up!


The Fraud Alert - Don Shrader



Have you noticed an increase recently in the number of scam calls calling to alert you to some condition which needs your immediate attention? I have. Hopefully that is not the case for you, but it certainly has been for me.

One person who works with a government-funded agency told me that one reason I may be getting an increase in the number of calls is because I stayed on the line to engage the caller in order to learn more about the scam so that I had better facts regarding how the scam works in order to write this monthly column.

Several of these scam-type calls are ones that I highlighted in previous Fraud Alert articles. For instance, in my first column, I wrote about those who call from some “health assistance” organization asking if I have received my new Medicare card yet. I must admit that I have tried to goad them on occasion by stating that it would be impossible for me to have received a new Medicare card since there is no such thing.

I have yet for one of the callers to take the bait and try to respond with anything other than continuing to ask if I, or my wife, have received our new Medicare cards, often also by trying to inform me that there are a number of new benefits associated with the new card, at which point I hang up.

Another scam about which I previously wrote but is popping up more and more, both in my emails and via telephone, is the one thanking me for my order, noting that my credit card on file will be charged some ridiculous amount within the next few hours or days and if I have any questions about the charge, there is a phone number provided for me to call. Warning – do not call that number!

Recently, I received a call “alerting me” to suspicious activating on my Amazon account (which I do not have) for $1,485. They then informed me that they have put a hold on my account at which point they provided a number for me to call. Again, warning – do not call that number!

Another call I recently received was new to me but evidently has been around for long time and that was an automated call supposedly from Social Security, informing me that my Social Security number had been compromised and I needed immediately to call the number provided! Failing to do so could result in all sorts of dire consequences. Once again, do not call that number!

Then there are the automated calls with all kinds of attention getters, ones that sternly inform you not to hang up, or the young lady firmly calling out, “Attention! Attention!” These, of course, are all scams trying to trick you such that they can get into your “boodle bags” as Professor Hill in the movie The Music Man framed it.

While I am certain none of the readers of this column are susceptible to such scams, I would encourage you to advise others of such fraud. Obviously, these fraud schemes are working quite well in scamming innocent victims out of thousands and millions of their hard-earned dollars, or the scammers would not keep it up as incessantly as they do.

I would advise you that as soon as you hear an automated voice, just hang up the phone. If I hear the words, “do not hang up,” or, “attention,” or any similar type of recorded command, I immediately hang up, and suggest you do the same. The only issue with hanging up immediately on all automated calls is that too many doctor’s offices use automated calls from secondary office numbers that frequently seem suspicious or come up as “potential scam,” to confirm upcoming appointments. Once you have confirmed that it is not a legitimate call, I recommend you just hang up!

The Fraud Alert

Don Shrader