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Random Venting about Phone Scammers


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I just got off the phone with my mom.  My dad and my sister's whole family are out of the country right now, so we've been touching base daily just to make sure she's ok.


Of course today had to be the morning that some idiot phone scammer starting harassing my mom.  He was claiming to be from the IRS and claimed she owed $6,000 that had to be paid immediately or a slew of really bad things would happen.  He called every 20 minutes or so all morning and she was almost hysterical when she called me (even paranoid that they might be listening).


I always worry about my parents as they get older (she's on the gullible side) because they live in Maryland, but me and my sister both live in the midwest, and of course, she had to get these calls when noone else was in the country.  She actually handled the situation perfectly but I think what really freaked her out was that the caller was of the same ethnicity as us, and was harassing her in our native language.


In hindsight, the threats were pretty funny.  He told her the IRS's address was "1 IRS Avenue, Washington DC" and didn't even have a zip code that was close to right.  Then he threatened her with deportation which is hilarious because she's been a US citizen for almost 20 years now-- where would they deport her to?


I'll close this rant by offering a couple of pieces of advice for anyone who gets asked for money over of the phone:


1) Remember that many of your transactions with the government are public record (buying a house, registering for medicare, etc).  Don't assume that the call must be related because you've had such a recent interaction with the government.  (IE if you just bought a house, and someone calls you about your property taxes, don't assume it must be the government.  Everyone knows you bought a house.  Don't believe me?  Search your address on zillow.com)

2) If you see any random number call you, google it.  There are websites dedicate to people posting personal stories about this sort of thing.  In this situation, I googled the number and found a long slew of similar stories

3) This one has been around for a while but if you ever pay anybody for anything, do so in a traceable way.  Any legitimate operation will be glad to take your payment.  Any scammer will run in the opposite direction.


I am genuinely disgusted that these sorts of people exist in the world.  But I am very proud of my mom.

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In all seriousness, glad your mom handled it well.  I feel like all older folks should be required to take a day-long course on internet/email/phone scamming and other general protocol.


You may want to report the number to the FTC.


Yeah my mom works customer service for a bank, so she's pretty savvy about financial situations that people deal with.


The real issue is that people's mental capacities diminish with age.  The scam that you'd spot a million miles away at 60 seems like a legit situation when you're 85.  I'm not sure what the right answer to this is, but it's deeply disturbing as someone could lose a lifetime of living smart in a moment.


But the whole situation regarding people preying on the weak really bothers me.  My dad recently registered with medicare and the amount of mail he gets for random stuff is staggering.  My mom was laid off a few years ago and the second she posted her resume on the job sites, she started getting an influx of mail from diploma mills, etc.

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