Last week, I had a senior citizen tell me that she knows that there are people out there who want to take advantage of her but she is uncomfortable hanging up on someone or shutting the door in their face. She added that she did not want to seem mean or impolite.
One of the draws to living in the south is our southern hospitality. We take immense pride in showing our polite and respectful virtues; unfortunately, scammers are all too aware of this politeness. Scammers will jump at the chance to take advantage of your friendly nature so remember it is always okay, when dealing with a potential scammer, to just hang up the phone.
Below are three common situations where you should never feel guilty interrupting a caller, hanging up the phone or shutting the door.
An unknown caller is seeking your personal information. When you receive an unexpected phone call from someone seeking your personal or financial information, do not give it to them. Even if they are claiming to be from a government agency, most commonly the IRS or FBI. Some of these callers will not give up and continually try and seek personal information. Hang up and find a legitimate number yourself for the company or agency that has supposedly called you. Call it directly to verify it is trying to get in touch with you. This could be your bank, your phone company, your credit card company, your internet service provider or even a collection agency. If you have an account with any business that calls you, look directly on your statement or on the back of your card for a legitimate number.
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The caller is threatening you. If you feel like you are being threatened or harassed, just hang up. Government agencies will never conduct themselves in this manner and they will not threaten to arrest you. Yes, some collection agencies and businesses who are seeking to receive payment on a late account may be aggressive; however, you will know if you have a past due balance and who it is with. If you know you are current on the account being called about, hang up and call the creditor directly. If you are unsure if you owe an outstanding balance it is best to request they send you something in writing, hang up and contact the business directly.
Anyone who is asking, claiming, or demanding that you send money now. Do not wire money! If a caller demands this form of payment, hang up, this is a sure sign of a scam. This also applies to prepaid money cards and gift cards. Some calls you receive may have a different approach. They may be claiming that instead of you owing a bill that you won a lottery, a prize or a sweepstakes. They will use many of the same approaches. Remember it should never cost you a fee to win a prize. If a caller claims you must pay to win then you haven’t really won anything. Just hang up!
When I speak to groups and this question comes up, I always remind consumers that you own your telephone and your door; no one should make you feel like you don’t have the power to hang up the phone, close the door or ignore both. Is it rude? Think about it like this. If you were standing on a street corner and someone was picking your pocket. Would you stop them and save your money or be too concerned with being rude and hurting their feelings? The same logic should apply to someone using your telephone or door to “pick your bank account”.
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Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving the Fall Line Corridor including 83 counties in portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The column is provided by the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a company or charity should be referred to the BBB at 1-800-763-4222, www.bbb.org or by email to email@example.com.