Today, while the choir was singing, I got an idea!
About a week ago, I was driving home from Clermont when I got a frantic call from my business partner, John.
"You old people are driving me crazy!"
"What old people?"
Indeed, he wasn't speaking about me. Even though he is 20 years my junior, I would hardly consider myself "old." As I age, the idea of "old" get - well - "older."He was upset and shaken.
A mutual friend of ours had called him up to help with a computer issue. Unfortunately, when he showed up at her house, she was on the phone with a "bank officer" who was in the process of scamming her.
John managed to stop any further damage; however, this 80-year-old woman had already sent thousands of dollars via Zelle to someone who claimed she was a bank officer who was there to "help" her protect her money. Had she pressed the "send" button again, the scammers would have drained her money market account.
If something doesn't feel right to you, (they are calling, emailing, or texting) know that you can reach out to your church friends for assistance.
When you send money through Zelle and similar apps, it's like sending cash. Once it's sent, it's sent. Scammers know this and prey on older people who do not understand. The scammer told this woman that she was legitimate because her caller ID said "Bank of America." Our friend did not know that you could set your caller ID to say "Santa Claus" if you wanted to!
John called me to warn me about this scam -- he was very shaken and wanted to protect everyone he knew, even amid his frustration.
I already knew about this scam as well as others, but I realized how many people don't know. Someone we know who is younger than me fell for a similar scam and lost thousands of dollars as well.
As a REALTOR®, I consider myself savvy about scams. I have to educate buyers and sellers daily about avoiding wire fraud scams. However, I am still concerned about the scams I may not recognize. Scammers are getting sneakier as technology changes, and it is always in the back of my mind that I may get hit with something I do not recognize and unintentionally fall for a scam, myelf.
People can be scammed via phone call, text, email, USPS mail, in person, and through websites.
I was distraught that my friend lost as much money as she did. To be honest, I was upset that she had been scammed at all. All evening, and all the next day, I could not stop thinking about it. In fact, I was up half the night thinking about it!
When I looked at everyone in the choir as well as those in the pews, I realized that these older people could also be in danger of being scammed. Maybe some have been already and may be ashamed to admit it.
It is unfortunate that we have to worry about being scammed; however, through education, we can help mitigate the damage that scammers cause.
Remember that no one will ever call or email you to ask you for information about yourself, such as your date of birth or social security number. Even if you feel fairly confident about the caller or emailer, don't be afraid to hang up and call the number of your local bank branch. Use the number on your bank statement or from a business card from your local branch.
Your Church family is willing and able to help.
By Barbara Erickson Breuer
Member of Eustis Presbyterian Church