Beware of scams

Like many Americans I get my share of spam phone calls. I probably average at least two a day. Many of them I don’t even answer due to the number shown on my CallerID. Unfortunately, since these low-lifes have the ability show local numbers on CallerID I have to answer some of them since I never know if this call is legit or not. Since many of these have no one on the other end of the line to talk to I just hang up and go on with my day.

Today, the call was different. It was a true scam. I had a call from a young man who claimed to be my grandson. He had been in a wreck, was injured, and had been taken to jail. He needed me to call his attorney and see about arranging bail money. Naturally, I was concerned. When I asked if he had talked to his father about the situation he insisted he didn’t want his father to know anything about it. That made me suspicious, and the more I talked to this individual the more suspicious I became. Finally, I told him that I wasn’t going to do anything until I had called his father. At that point the young man practically yelled into the phone, “So are you just going to leave me in jail?” I responded that was exactly what I was going to do until I talked to his father.

I called his Dad who promised to check on his son. A few minutes later I got a call back assuring me that my caller was not my grandson. Later that evening my grandson did call me to talk about what had happened. I found out a little later from a couple of people that this particular scam had been reported on the news the evening before I got the phone call. Everything the caller said to me was word-for-word from a script that has been reported these low-lifes are using.

I went to my wife’s work after the call to tell her about what happened and to warn her that she might receive such a call. My son told me he called some of his family to also caution them.

It is unbelievable the number of scams that are being perpetrated on people today. I’m sure a certain number of people these low-lifes call go into a panic when they hear their loved ones are hurt or in jail and immediately send money to help them. They don’t bother to ask questions like I did or verify what they are being told. Who wants their darling grandchild to spend time in jail? (When my real grandson did call I told him my father told me at a very young age if I was able to get myself in jail I could get myself out. I’m sure that sounds hard-hearted to the parents and grandparents of snowflakes today, but at some point people do need to learn to take responsibility for their actions.)

Do the people answering the phones at your business know how to respond to such calls? Have they been instructed to hang up at the first indication that the call is a scam? Do they give out personal information about people in your business over the phone? I’ve been told that these people are working off social media information when they select their targets. In some cases, they can probably get better information by calling people who have not been trained in what they should tell those who call into your office.

In a previous business I owned I overheard my office manager answering some questions about the company that I felt was no one’s business. After she hung up I asked why she was giving out that information. She said she was just answering some questions the caller was asking. At that point I explained that she didn’t have to answer every question someone asked, that some things are no one’s business. This happened long before robocalls and other scammers became so active so this advice is even more important today.

More than a few businesses have been scammed by these people. It’s the responsibility of owners and managers to ensure that anyone answering the phone knows what to say and what not to say to people who call your business.

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