Smart Quiz! What Phone Scam is Easiest to Fall For?
Answer: Children in Need
Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone as any other age group. That leaves them wide open and vulnerable to scams involving phone calls. Because everything is done over the phone and disposable numbers and phones are tossed when the scams are complete, the perpetrator is almost impossible to catch. And when it comes to scamming seniors for money, pulling the heart strings is a most effective approach.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Plan ahead by creating verification words and signals with the children in your life… yes, even the youngest ones. Keep it simple for the kids, but not easy for scammers to guess. Stick to one syllable words for the youngest ones.
2. Practice using the verification phrase. The younger the child is, the more fun you need to make it. Do things like ask for the phrase before you give a cookie or make it a game of getting that phrase before putting their favorite cartoon on.
3. When someone calls and says that a child related to you needs help, be sure to write down the number they are calling from or ask for it “in case of disconnection.” If you happen to have a landline and a cell phone or computer, use the one you aren’t talking on to share the information with the authorities or someone who can contact the authorities while you are on the phone. (This gives them a better chance at tracking the call and possibly apprehending the suspect. Or if the child really is in need of help, this information can help the authorities find the child.)
Never give any kind of information about yourself or the child unless you get the verification phrase or signal.
4. Be polite, but firm about obtaining the verification word or phrase. Keep in mind that they are going to try everything they can to get your money or information. That means they might tell you that the child is injured and unable to speak. If this is the case, ask for a specific signal that you and the child have practiced. If they tell you the child is unconscious and you still think they may be legitimate, ask for an identifying mark on the child.
5. The firmer you are about obtaining contact information and/or identity verification from the child, the more likely the caller is to hang up. When they do, if you haven’t already notified the authorities, be sure to do so. The more information they obtain about these scammers, the more likely they are to catch them.