My mom was a great conversationalist. She could talk to anybody and always asked the best questions. One of her classics was, “What do you do for fun?” Recipients of that question loved to answer it. Another query that dug a little deeper, “When did you lose trust?”
Not everyone has lost trust, but, when you’ve been scammed, deceived, ripped off or hoodwinked, for sure, a little bit of trust is chiseled away. Toddlers trust that their parents will catch them when they take their first steps. As life goes on, though, something can happen that erodes that innate trust. In our modern times, scams are in the news all of the time as they have become a ubiquitous piece of our society.
Elders are the most vulnerable. So much so that the U.S. Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General has designated Thursday (March 9) as “Slam the Scam” Day to raise awareness of government imposter scams, which continue to spread across the country.
Learning how to spot scams, identify red flags, and report suspicious activity is part of the education available through SSA’s Social Media Toolkits available on the usual platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
SSA lists the four basic signs of a scam:
• Scammers pretend to be from a familiar organization or agency, like the SSA. They may email attachments with official-looking logos, seals, signatures or pictures of employee credentials.
• Scammers mention a problem or prize. They may say your Social Security number was involved in a crime or ask for personal information to process a benefit increase.
• Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They may threaten you with arrest or legal action.
• Scammers tell you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire or money transfer, or by mailing cash. They may also tell you to transfer your money to a “safe” account.
“Ignore scammers and report criminal behavior” to help Slam the Scam! is the best advice from SSA.
Recently a bizarre story of deception and trust erosion was relayed to me. A friend was in the throes of selling her house, including the furnishings, and moving out of state. A recent widow, she had hired her longtime housekeeper to help with the packing, purging, and cleaning when the house sold after only ten days on the market. She had complete trust in the person since she had employed her for many years and nothing ever disappeared — until.
My friend left for her new home a few days before closing, leaving instructions for the housekeeper to do a final “move-out” deep clean before the new owners took occupation.
Because she is a conscientious perfectionist, she asked a neighbor to inspect the cleaning job, which she did. She sent photos to assure that the cleaning looked well done, not knowing that they also revealed what might not have been caught, but for the photos. Several pieces of furniture — couch, recliner, ottoman, lamps, even a tool chest in the garage — were all gone. The Great Furniture Heist. Mind you, the housekeeper knew the furnishings were part of the house sale.
From over 2,000 miles away, my friend was aghast and desperate to reclaim the furniture before closing the next day. The housekeeper and her accomplice ‘fessed up to taking everything with a litany of lies about why they thought it was okay. Enlisting family and friend, the goods were all rounded up from two different locations and returned to their rightful spot before the last document was signed. It might be said that all’s well that ends well, but another big chunk of trust evaporated as a result.
A dusting of fresh snowfall freshened Mazama up this weekend and brought new life to the trails as February came to a close.