Be careful

Be carefulPictured, is a cell phone text message from scammers. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

The Christmas season is upon us. People are shopping for gifts for family, friends, and other loved ones to make the holiday extra special. This is a time when doing something special for someone is such a joyous thing. But it’s also a time when many people are spending more money than usual.

Unfortunately, the scammers are out in full swing ready to take advantage of people and their money. It never ceases to amaze me at the new scams they have come up with.

The other day I received a text message on my phone that read, “Your (movie rental) account will be locked because your payment was declined. Call us to take care of this and reactivate your account.”

Well, that was interesting since I don’t have any type of movie rental account. But even if I had one, I would not have responded to this scam.

A few days later, another text read, “You have a package waiting for pickup. Call to make arrangements for delivery.”  

No, I didn’t call the number in the text. Instead, I called my children to find out if they had sent a package. They hadn’t of course. And besides, the post office will send a post card if they have a package waiting for you at their facility.

What’s interesting is that the next day, I received the exact same words in another text, but from a different delivery company. And it was a different number to call so that I could “arrange” for pickup. But this company also stated they had a “free gift” for me at pick up!

Be careful

Pictured, is a cell phone text message from scammers. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

The phone calls are coming again, both on my cell phone and through my landline. Several callers say they are charitable organizations asking for donations. They sound legitimate but it’s hard to tell over the phone, especially with scamming so rampant. If you get one of those calls and it sounds like an organization you would like to donate to, ask for their name and address and if you can send them a check. If they hang up, chances are they were not legitimate. Or you can get their number and call them. They’ll hang up if they’re up to no good.

No time is a good time to get scammed, but right before Christmas would be quite heartbreaking. Be careful. And remember that places like the IRS, utilities, Social Security, and other government agencies don’t call to tell you that you owe money. They send a letter if there’s a problem. 

When I called my son about the text message that said I had a package waiting for me, he reminded me again to be careful. He also reminded me of one of the scariest scam methods where they have figured out how to have the name and number of a family member show up on caller ID when the call is really coming from the scammer’s phone. They have also found a way to sound like that family member’s voice. When they ask for personal information, you think you are giving it to a family member. It sounds safe, right? No. Hang up and call your family member back. Chances are he/she didn’t call you.

About five minutes after we hung up, my phone rang again. It was my son on the caller ID. I wondered what he had forgotten to tell me. But when I answered, the voice said, “Hi Mom!  I don’t have much time. I’m filling out an application. Quick!  I need your social security number.”

I replied, “Merry Christmas!” And then I hung up and called him right back. Guess what?

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