Pam Rainey

Pam Rainey

“Back off, Bucko.”

That’s what I said to the caller before I quickly ended the call. He had informed me the FBI was on its way to pick me up if I didn’t give him my Social Security and bank numbers. Claimed I owed back taxes. I knew that was a lie.

The overzealous scoundrel didn’t know who he was messing with.

Word on the street is this fellow has not only stolen my phone number, but has countless phone numbers of many senior citizens. Instead of spending his days doing something worthwhile, he calls unsuspecting older people and tries to frighten them into giving him their personal and financial information, all so he can steal from them.

The caller sounded official and a little scary. I can see why some are thrown off base when they are threatened by this lowlife.

And sadly, many are. On a recent trip to Social Security Office, my husband and I were troubled to overhear a heartbreaking story a woman told the Social Security representative in the cubicle next to us. She had received a threatening call from a thief like the one I received, and she was thrown off guard. Not only did she give away her Social Security number, but also her bank information. Later she learned her checking and savings accounts had been cleaned out.

The Social Security representative was cordial to her but unable to help. The representative referred her to the local police department. I hope she has fraud protection and can recover her losses.

Here’s the thing. Of late, calls from these hoodlums appear to be coming from our area code. So if you have caller identification, fraudulent calls look local. Who among us older folks regularly await a confirmation call from a doctor or dentist? That’s why I answer calls from numbers I do not recognize. I am not sure why the telephone companies cannot stop these calls.

A stern warning to all: Never ever give out your Social Security number to anyone, unless it is to a bank where you are applying for a loan or opening an account. Or if you are at the Social Security office while you are in the office. Don’t even text your number to a relative or someone you know. Be careful. Trust no one.

If you get an official-sounding call, stall the caller and make a request: “Mail me the information so I can take it to the police department and ask them to help me go over it.” If they ask for your home address? Hang up quickly.

I would almost guarantee you that will be the end of your threatening call. If you are uncomfortable with any caller, just hang up. I look at it this way. We do not ask uninvited guests into our home. Uninvited callers are being rude and do not deserve our time or patience.

If a caller says they are helping a relative of yours in need, and they ask you to go buy gift cards, don’t do it. They will most likely ask you to call back with the gift card number on the back. Big clue: It’s bogus.

If a call sounds phony, it probably is.

We live in a very intrusive and criminal world. But it doesn’t need to get the best of us.

This goes for workmen who offer to do work for us — you know the sort, they buzz around Denton’s streets after bad hailstorms — and ask for money up front. More than likely, they will not deliver on the work. Don’t fall for that trick either.

Buckos need to back off. Don’t be afraid to tell them.

PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at pam@realestatedenton.biz or 940-293-3117.

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