Being Aware of Scams

Being Aware of Scams

Carmen Million, President/CEO-Better Business Bureau

My Senior Moments 2.0

By Joyce R Kebodeaux

Better Business Bureau President Carmen Million in the Lake Charles location is always ready to answer questions. “Here in our office we never say I don’t know. Instead we search for the answers”, she said. “I have worked for BBB 35 years and thoroughly enjoy my job. Completing the staff of three are Liz Katchur, Business Manager and Carla Watkins, Office Manager.

“We can’t tell anybody what to do, but we can give them information to help them make an informed decision”.

BBB has a new home on the corner of Lake Street and Sale Road. A grand opening is in the planning for the near future. This office serves six parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis and Vernon. BBB is a not for profit organization and is supported by licensed, accredited businesses that are members. These businesses are vetted and membership is by invitation only.

“Moving to this new location gives us more space and we are more visible.” she said. “Most of our calls are after the purchase or transaction is completed. I wish they would call for information before.”

Before I visited the BBB I believed scammers targeted senior citizens more than others. Everyone is a target, I learned. Retired seniors are more accessible and not spending time at work. They are more likely to answer the phone or stop to chat in parking lots and public places.

Scanning our calls is helpful. Using a caller ID one can see the number calling. If we don’t recognize the number calling we need not answer. Scammers have upped their game by getting numbers that appear to be local.  More people will answer if the call is local.

Sometimes the caller’s number is the same as ours which peaks our curiosity. This is what scammers do to get someone to answer the phone. Should we answer they then try to gain our confidence. By becoming familiar with us they gain information. This is called spoofing. The caller makes his pitch by talking about circumstances similar to ours. For example veterans are more likely to talk to a person who claims to be a veteran also.

If the caller appears to be local we might be more inclined to listen to their pitch. Ironically these calls are mostly from out of the country. Sometimes the caller asks a question that requires a yes or no. By answering yes we could be agreeing to buy something or do what the scammer wants. We can block these calls and use our time for other things.

The old “You owe the Internal Revenue money Scare” is still around and still works. Scammers know that no one wants to be jailed or pay heavy fines. If they can put that fear in his victims they might agree to the hoax.

One scam was developed for seniors. This is the Grandparent Scam. By pretending to be a grandchild, or someone representing him grandparents are asked to send money immediately. Money will end the problem; for instance staying out of jail. The caller doesn’t give Grandma or Grandpa a chance to think about the request. Later they learn their grandchild was never in trouble.

In her job, Carmen goes out to speak to groups about immediately the BBB. After all these years there are still many who don’t know what the BBB does. She says “My job is never boring. There is something new every day”.