Sure, I’ll Play Along…

Communication support, call center and customer service help desk.…when you call and your alarming, automated message claims that my father’s Social Security number has been compromised, is being used fraudulently and that he is in danger of being prosecuted.

“Press One?” Sure.

“This is [put name here] from the Social Security Administration.”

“Oh. How do I know that you are really from the Social Security Administration?”

First Time Response: “Well sir, you called us.”

My Response: “No. You called me.”

Click. Hang up.

Less than ten minutes later I get the exact same automated message.

“Press One?” Sure, I’ll play again.

“This is [put name here] from the Social Security Administration.”

“Oh. How do I know that you are really from the Social Security Administration?”

Second Time Response: Dead air. No response.

Click. Hang up.

Senior Woman Talking On PhoneObviously, these calls ARE NOT coming from the Social Security Administration. I can only think these people are trying to particularly prey on those with particular concerns about Social Security benefits (the disabled and the elderly) and those with some kind of cognitive impairment (again the disabled and the elderly with dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease). They call repetitively (daily and often many times a day) and use scare tactics to lure people into a conversation that reveals not only their Social Security number but other personal information (birthdate, full name, phone number and even credit card numbers).

The next time I get to intercept and answer one of these calls, I’m going to play along aSocial Security Cards Symbolizing Benefits for Elderly United Stated little more, see how much more information I can get and ultimately try to record these scammers. I know I have no way of catching these &%$#@ bastards, but I hope that what I learn can help people who may be receiving these calls or the children of people who might be receiving these calls. These phone scammers deserve to go to jail, but preying on the disabled or the elderly never seems to place high on any politician’s list of things to do–even here in Florida.

***

For most of the past week and a half I’ve been staying with my father as I help him through resolving some medical issues. He has moderate (but progressing dementia) that has allowed him to live independently up until this time. But that cognitive impairment (as I’ve written about previously in this blog) has made him easy prey for phone scammers.

Conceptual hand writing showing Senior Scam. Business photo showcasing fraud schemes targeting the lifestyle and savings of the elderly Writing tools and scribbled paper on top of the wooden table.Because of that, we purchased him a British-made cell phone that allows us to program in a “white list” of numbers. Only numbers on that list can call into his cell phone–essentially blocking all scammers on that device.

Unfortunately, the senior complex in which he lives also has landline phones in each apartment and that is where he still receives deceptively crafted scam calls. Apparently, there is no way to do that on the complex’s antiquated phone system. I’d love to see if there is an upgrade (software or hardware) out there that they could install to better protect their very vulnerable residents.

In addition to calls from the “SSA,” he has received calls from “Medicare” and “Microsoft.”

When I answered the call from “Medicare” the telemarketer became combative after I questioned his credentials. He hung up when I persisted, but I’m quite certain they are calling from a company trying to smooth talk seniors to use Medicare benefits to purchase medical equipment (walkers, oxygen, canes, wheelchairs, etc) they must need at no cost them.

I haven’t tried to engage the “Microsoft” robocall yet, but the next time I hear that computer-generated voice, I’ll press the appropriate button and get it on.

Until then, I just want to share my warning: find out who is calling your disabled friends/family and/or your elderly parents. Get some questionable answers? Get complaints of the phone ringing all day? See some unfamiliar names, phone numbers, notes or dollar amounts scribbled on a notepad by the phone?

If you see anything like that you need to take action to protect your loved ones. You need to spend a day answering calls yourself. If numbers can be blocked–do it–even though many scammers are generating random, non-repeating phone numbers. You also need to do something a little more difficult and intrusive—get a look at their checkbooks, bank accounts and credit card statements. Look for anything that would be out of the ordinary for them. If you see anomalies, try to dispute the charges–but most of all, talk to your siblings, your elderly parents and come up with a plan to protect them yourselves.

In the end, to protect my own father, I’ve had to use my Power of Attorney rights to take control and possession of his checkbook and his credit cards. Without a way to completely block scam calls (and similarly insidious junk mail) it was all I could do to protect the savings and investments he worked a lifetime to earn.

Remember, in the end only you can protect your family from scammers. Act now!

###

~ by kipwkoelsch on January 15, 2020.

One Response to “Sure, I’ll Play Along…”

  1. And…not ten minutes after posting this, we received a call claiming that my father had ordered a new iPhone on his Amazon account and for more information to “Press 1.” I did that and after a few moments the call disconnected. I didn’t even get to speak to a live person. How disappointing!!!

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