As I age, I understand that there are many things in my life that have changed. When traffic comes to a stop to let me cross the street, I suspect it has less to do with the sway of my hips and more to do with letting the elderly woman cross safely; when I wake up with muscles that are stiff and sore it’s no longer an anomaly, it’s my every day experience; when men’s heads turn as I walk by I’m usually pretty sure there’s a hot young thing walking behind me. I accept these changes as a natural part of aging.
What I can’t accept is the number of people who derive their income from scamming the elderly. Since I turned 60 last May, I have been pretty amazed by the increase in companies reaching out to try and cheat me out of my money. They come by text, by phone, and by email, but the one thing they all have in common is that the company reaching out is using fear to incite me to giving them all of my personal information, which would give them access to all of my money. Apparently, these con artists assume that anyone over the age of 60 is an easy mark.
I have gotten emails that are supposed to be receipts for large purchases I did not make; I have gotten texts telling me that the IRS is about to arrest me for tax fraud; and I have gotten calls from “your credit card company” threatening me with lack of payment, even though they never identify which credit card. Fortunately for me, I am an older adult who recognizes these threats for exactly what they are: fraud.
What incenses me is the thought of how many vulnerable people are revealing their personal information out of fear. My mother, who was exceptionally intelligent, spent much of her last couple of years worried because she kept getting calls from people saying they were the IRS. We always assured her that the IRS would be contacting her through her accountant, but I don’t think she ever really let go of her fear of being “in trouble.” Fortunately, Mom had three children and six grandchildren who were all in frequent contact with her to help keep her from falling for some of these hoaxes.
I worry for the elderly who are alone. The ones who don’t have anyone to help explain how technology and communication works in today’s world. Surviving on social security and minimal retirement income is dicey enough without conmen reaching out every day to convince you that they need your bank account information.
I know that the day will come when there is a new technology out there that I can’t, or won’t, comprehend. I saw it with my grandparents and I saw it with my parents; they each lived long enough to draw a line and say, “I will not learn this next new thing.” I understand that this too is an inevitable part of the aging process. What worries me is what will I be risking when I reach that point? What new scam will the underbelly of society come up with to try to milk me of my savings? I hope and pray that all the effort I’m putting into staying informed will hold me in good stead when I reach that phase. If I become incapable of that, I certainly hope my children and grandchildren will be around to protect me from myself.
I don’t believe in wishing bad things on bad people. At the worst, I will send out the hope that the person or people I’m bothered by receive back the same vibration that they are sending out. However, it is hard to remember this when I think of those who make their living preying on those less capable of understanding the falsity of their claims. Instead of wishing them a special place in Hell for what they’re doing, I try to think of how damaged they must be to feel okay with the damage they are doing to our most vulnerable population.
For now, I hope that everyone who is approached with one of these schemes be granted the ability to see through the scam and keep themselves and their savings safe.
(Photo: Charles Ponzi, after whom the infamous “Ponzi Scheme” was named. Image is in the public domain via playingintheworldgame.wordpress.com)