Dear Grandparenting: I usually don’t answer calls from people I don’t know, but I did this time because I’m bored from being quarantined.
The voice on the line had “urgent information regarding the health of your granddaughter Mia.” The conversation moved to money. I asked how much he needed. “That is open-ended at this moment,” he said.
Lucky for me that I recently heard about this scam on the radio. Here’s my bottom line — if I hadn’t been on my toes, I might have gone along. He was that good. Warn your readers they might be next. Sue Smith, The Villages, Florida
Dear Sue: No sooner did coronavirus fears sweep across America than the coronavirus scammers got to work, the latest twist in an expanding arsenal of scamming techniques. Your call followed the usual script. The caller informs you a loved one is hospitalized with coronavirus. It looks bad. Give us your credit card information to pay for life-saving treatment. Ante up for a vaccine or access to critical medical equipment. In a pandemic, it’s easier to prey on those gripped by fear, isolated or out of touch. Authorities predict pandemic-related fraud is here to stay.
Scammers of every stripe regard elderly Americans as a target rich population, to the tune of $3 billion in 2019, according to a U.S. Senate Special on Aging report. That’s on the low side, since many successful scams go unreported.
Fraudsters “tend to target older Americans,” notes a recent American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) study, “because they have wealth, tend to be trusting, and may be less sophisticated about technology.”
Guard your personal information. Scams are always in season, and AARP identifies some hot ones for 2020. There are Census scams, whereby imposters pretending to be U.S. Census takers ask for credit card or Social Security numbers. Medicare scammers will offer free health tests in return for your Medicare number. Amazon scammers inform you a package cannot be delivered until you “confirm” a credit card number. These bad guys send out millions of random emails; click on a link and you download malware.
Grand remark of the week
Emily Lake from Marysville, Washington was driving grandson Scooter home from his friend’s house when she began feeling sick to her stomach.
Scooter looked troubled. “Please stop this car right now and call someone Grandma. I don’t think I can drive this car home all by myself!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.