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Along Life’s Way
Ring! Ring! Scam Calling?
By Lois E. Wilson
 
The phone rings. A female voice says, “Hello, Grandma?” Thinking I recognize the person, I answer, “Lisa? Is that you? It’s so good to hear from you!”
 
After a little back and forth family small talk, the caller tells me, “I have a cold and I coughed all night. My voice probably sounds funny. Something happened. I’m going to tell you. Are you alone? Do you promise not to tell my folks, sisters, or anybody?”
 
I think, “Sisters? Lisa doesn’t have any sisters. She must really be upset.” I promise not to tell.
 
The caller adds that she was on her way to get some cough medicine. Her cell phone rang; she answered it and talked while driving. She crashed, rear-ending the car ahead of her. It was driven by a policeman. She claims to be in “big trouble.”
 
My internal alarm bell goes off. I knew that next she would say that she was in jail.
 
How could I have been so stupid? A couple of years before, it had been a male caller saying, “Hello, Grandma?” and asking for help.
 
I decided to use the same question I had used then and asked, “Lisa, what is your middle name?” The phone clicked dead. The caller had hung up.
 
I immediately called my granddaughter to confirm that it had not been her that phoned for help. It was not her.
 
I am enrolled on the National Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222 to enroll). But I still receive calls offering “tech support” for my computer. Two calls have warned that there is a problem with my IRS tax returns and I only have a limited time to solve it. One threatened, if I didn’t call the number they gave me immediately—I’d be in trouble, and they couldn’t help me then.
 
I get calls to assist with credit card issues, free cruises, utility bills, and supposed political polls. I try to hang up promptly and not give out any information. Charities use phone solicitation—but are they authentic?  It is a shame that we have to be so diligent. But it is better to be safe than sorry. We are all targets and easily fooled.
 
We need to tell our family members and friends to identify themselves when they call—no guessing games. It is difficult to remember to ask, “Who is this?” when they say, “Hello, Grandma! Do you know who this is?”


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