Beware of Phone Fraud

Lou-Ellen Barkan
Founding Director

Dear Friends,

These days when the phone rings, it may be a machine on the other end. Or, if not a machine, a perfect stranger, but one with a friendly voice. This person may ask you to confirm personal information, to register for a product or service or to buy something new. They may even reference your personal credit cards, bank account or address.

If you are anything like me, your first instinct is to respond politely and, if you are uncertain about what they are asking, to ask for more information. Don’t do it! Anything you say may be recorded.

While there are many versions of this scam, there is one particularly dangerous version which goes something like this.

A friendly voice asks, “Hello. Am I speaking to Joan Smith?”

And you respond, “Yes. This is Joan Smith.”

Your response has been recorded. Later, you may see a false charge on your credit card statement. When you challenge the charge, the credit card company will play back your “Yes” to confirm that the charge was legitimate.
We know that these calls are perpetrated by criminals. Their goal is to take advantage of you and your good name. The only way to stop them is to resist your instinct to be polite. Hang up immediately without responding! If you don’t recognize the name or organization that is calling, and if this is a cellphone call, block the number.

If your experience is anything like mine, the less often you respond to these calls, the fewer calls you will get. So, be smart and be cautious when picking up the phone. In my opinion, we all play a role in protecting ourselves!


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