I recently interviewed Steven Weisman about scams aimed at seniors for my podcast, AskHarry. Steve is of counsel to our firm and is an expert on how you can protect yourself from scams. His motto, at least in terms of scams, both online and off: "Things aren't as bad as you think, they are far worse . . ." I strongly recommend his website, Scamicide.com, where he reports on scams occurring nationwide.
In talking with Steve, I was reminded of how I almost became the victim of a scam. We had visited old friends in New York and before we went out for dinner, Robin called to order in some food for her daughter. I was very impressed that she knew her credit card number by heart. So, I went home and memorized mine.
Shortly thereafter, I was home one day with my son, Jeremy, and got an automated telephone call purporting to be from my credit card company and asking that I punch in my credit card number to verify the number. I was so proud of myself for memorizing the number that I punched it right in. The recording reassured me that my card was safe and ended the call.
Jeremy observed what I had done and asked, "Why did you do that, Dad?" Of course, then I realized that I had been scammed. I immediately called my credit card company to cancel the card before any mysterious charges showed up. So nothing bad happened, except that I had to memorize a new credit card number.
The moral of this story, other than to keep a teenager around at all times: Be very careful when anyone reaches out to you by phone or online. As Steve Weisman says, how do you know that anyone calling from the Social Security Administration or the IRS is a hoax? Because the SSA and the IRS don't call anyone.