What a strange morning in terms of miscommunications. Must be the recent solar flares…? I’d better write this and then get off the computer before it blows up.
It’s 9am, and here’s what’s happened so far.
Got an email from a friend that ended with a nice greeting that wished Regina and me well.
I replied with another short email and tried to type, “hope your weekend glows.” Instead I typed:
… hope your weekend blows.
That was at 8:15.
At 8:30, Regina answered a phone call in which an automated voice asked if this was our son “Aaron Macy” on the phone: “press 1 for yes, 2 for no.”
Regina pressed 2.
“Is Aaron available? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.”
Regina pressed 2.
“Tell Aaron we suspect fraudulent activity in his credit union account and ask him to call 1-800-xxx-xxxx”
Call ended. Hm, I was suspicious, even though…
We’d received another similar call earlier this week, regarding our own bank account, which turned out to be a legitimate call from WalMart. (That phone number was 866-371-1946, and if you get a WalMart call from that number, you should follow up on it. We saved $600 in fraudulent charges on our bank account.)
I’m always suspicious of these kinds of calls, since fraud is becoming so widespread here in the States as the economy continues to tank, people get desperate, and the savage side rears its head.
So, since our son is not here at the moment, Regina returned this urgent 800-xxx-xxxx number from our home phone (that’s the phone they made their original call to), and at the same time I called that 800 number from my cell phone. We both received automated messages, but they were different. Apparently our home phone number is “in their system,” and so that was where the main scam was going to take place. Since my cell phone number is not in their system, my scam was a little more transparent.
When I called the number, an excited voice recording said I had a chance to join a lottery… and I hung up.
When Regina called the number, the automated voice said it’s important to immediately call:
1015158000… (DON’T CALL THAT NUMBER)
… to clear up the fraudulent activity in Aaron’s bank account. Since he’s unavailable today, Regina decided to call that number.
A woman with a crass (from thesaurus.com: asinine, blundering, boorish, bovine…) voice said she was a directory assistance service. Regina demanded to know who she worked for and what this was all about, and the woman growled, “Sorry, we don’t give that sort of information,” and hung up on Regina.
I told Regina it was probably a toll-charge number she called, and we might find a charge for several hundred dollars on our next telephone company statement. I’ve heard of such scams, usually originating somewhere in the Caribbean where regulations are lax.
So, I quickly googled “1015158000” on my computer and found a long list of web posts from people who’d been scammed by this number. Their phone bills had been charged between $4 and $10 as soon as they called that number. So, at least it’s a small amount, the reasoning being (I’m sure) that most people won’t go to the trouble of sorting out the problem with the phone company over a small amount.
The original 1-800-xxx-xxxx number that had called victims of this scam varied in many cases, so the scam artists have acquired a long list of toll-free numbers from which to place their original phishing call. (Another quick google showed that the 1-800-xxx-xxxx number that called our phone was owned by a resort in (where else… the swampland scam capital of the world…) Florida.
Anyway, long story short: As things in society unravel in the coming years, the dark side becomes more active, and it behooves us all to recruit a little healthy suspicion.
Regina clearly felt violated by the ordeal, but I suggested we might both look at it as an important, inexpensive lesson that can help us be more careful in the future. We both tend to be too trusting by nature, although I’ve developed a suspicious alter-ego over the years out of necessity.
As the ethereal being Nsitden told us 15 years ago:
Children of Earth, People of Terra…, have no fear of doubt. It is not love alone that advances the world but also doubt. Doubt is the price of freedom. There is doubt that is just and results in enlightenment, and there is poisoning doubt that only sows discord. If doubt works against you, your life becomes confused. If doubt is on your side, life becomes an adventure.
So, we’ve learned another important life lesson. We’ll call the phone company on Monday and try to cancel the charges, whatever they turn out to be.
On with the adventure!… and off with the computer.