New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- Our population who are in their golden years tends to be most vulnerable to schemes and scams.
Part of our corporal knowledge as firearms owners, Second Amendment advocates, etc. is the ability to remain hyper-vigilant. Many that pour through the pages of AmmoLand News would fancy themselves to be a sheepdog. With the new year springing into action, I wanted to bring up the topic of online and phone scams. In particular, confidence games being played on the elderly. We have a duty to help educate and guide our elders as they are navigating a world that others never had to deal with in the past. Here are some tips to go over with and share with your more mature friends and family members. These ideas are to help keep them safe from some modern cons going on today.
“You’ve been awarded…XXX” might be how the email starts.
Perhaps it’ll reference a business deal being offered or inheritance that you’re entitled to. The number of online and phone scams (this includes text messages) that are out there can be mind-blowing. It’s commonplace to get an email from a prince in a foreign land discussing your new good fortunes. I often wondered who’d fall subject to such solicitations? No one, right? That’s what I thought until I ran into someone that was fooled.
Luckily the individual who got hooked by a catfish did not have any “damages” that I was aware of, but who really knows. A catfish is a term used to describe someone online that’s pretending to be someone else. Generally, the term is applied to those lying while trying to engage in some sort of romantic exchange but is not limited to just relationship-related scams.
I was standing in the post office when a gentleman of the more mature persuasion was called on by one of the tellers. With a computer printout in his hand, he explained to the postal worker he was there to pick up his package. The postal worker delicately explained to the man that the US Postal service never sends out emails like the one he had in his hand. That man was disappointed to learn there was no package waiting for him at that location. What transpired prior to him getting to the post office? Hopefully not a monetary exchange.
When you’re receiving correspondence, phone calls, letters, etc. be wary of who it’s from. Scams come in all shapes and sizes. There are scams that involve getting an individual to send money or gift cards to the scammer. There are also scams that involve trying to get someone’s personal identifying information through trickery.
There are a number of things to keep in mind in such situations:
1) Be leery of suspicious emails and calls. Think to yourself “does this seem real?” If something seems fishy, let it alone. If you think the situation is legitimate, get as much information from the caller or off the email and do some homework. Solicit the help of a family member if you need help sifting through scams. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to identify a scam quickly.
2) Companies don’t ever ask for your password. If you get an email that says your account has been hacked and needs to be verified, don’t answer that email. That’s a phishing scam, one that involves trying to get your passwords, bank account numbers, birthday, etc. If you think the email you received is legitimate you can always call the source company to check the validity of it. (but DO NOT use any telephone numbers in the suspect email or text)
3) Stay alert if you’re getting calls from someone asking for money, especially if they’re claiming to be a family member. Do whatever you have to in order to verify that the person on the phone is who they say they are. Don’t get hooked into an emotional frenzy thinking someone you love is in trouble and now needs you to send them money, bank checks, or gift cards. Verify, verify, verify!
4) Don’t give out your personal identifying information to someone that reaches out to you. While this was discussed above, I feel it’s of importance to bring it up again. A pharmacy that’s part of a big chain will make calls to ensure customers have important information about their prescriptions. When I had an illness once, I got one such call and the pharmacist on the other end of the phone asked for my date of birth to verify my identity. I politely declined and explained to them “That’s not how this works. You don’t call me and ask for my information.” Why this pharmacy has this policy is beyond me, but I refused to comport, even though it was a legitimate call. Not all these calls will be legitimate though.
One way to protect yourself from these scams is to have a loved one handle your finances and accounts or at least be a second set of eyes. Let them deal with the emails and bill notifications. This isn’t something that people are thrilled about, but really, it’s liberating to not have to deal with the headaches or worry about missing some sort of a payment. If you do end up with a trusted person handling your affairs and you get a questionable email, phone call, or text message, simply give all the information to the person that handles your stuff and be done with it.
Ammo Scam Warning
For us, gun owners, be specifically aware of ammo scams for ourselves and our loved ones. Over the last couple of years, with extreme regularity in 2021, gun owners have been subjected to several ammo scams where fake sellers offer up a deal of the century, take someone’s money, and then they don’t deliver on the goods. This situation was reported on previously here at AmmoLand News last April. Fellow AmmoLand News writer and colleague Lee Williams wrote about one scenario on his substack also last April. In his piece he engaged with an alleged scammer via text message and called them out on their shenanigans. On this topic, be hyper-vigilant of who you’re buying from and the particulars surrounding their e-commerce site/ways. The following advice was offered up in the AmmoLand News article on the subject:
- If it’s too good of a deal, it is.
- Don’t take the convo to another platform. [Conduct business through chat apps]
- Be leary of messaging app purchases with third-party payments.
- Check for website security indicators.[Should have an SSL certificate]
- Look for confusing sentences or misspellings.
- Check the business address.
- When in doubt, don’t buy.
- Simply put: Buy from trusted sources.
In the twenty-first century, we all have a lot of challenges that we need to overcome. Technology and advancements in our communications tools have liberated us in many ways and brought ease to our lives. The trade-off is having to deal with new and innovative ways to get ripped off. If you arm yourself with not just guns but the knowledge that there are scammers out there, and what they may look/sound like, you’ll better be able to safeguard your identity and finances.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .