So far this month I have heard of two elder women being targeted for scams. Contrary to what we might expect, these ladies proved unscammable.
Their fast reactions contradict the findings of a new research study reported in the New York Times. The study shows that as we age, our brains are less able to assess danger. However, in this case we have a 99 year old who managed to avert a scam.
That newly-unscammable elder was Ruth, who had gotten wise to this type of scam since being targeted once before in a similar way. This time she was on guard. The evening phone caller pretended to be her grandson in great need. “Gramma, it’s me, your grandson. I need your help.” This time Ruth said “Can you please hold for a moment?” and paused to gather herself. When she went back on the line, the caller had hung up.
Similarly, Carol, age 75, recounted how a woman called, and with a kind voice, started asking questions. Carol answered a few of her questions and then managed to ask her own question. “Can I ask who is soliciting this information?” she said. The caller hung up.
It seems as if a stall technique can be a valuable tactic in assessing danger.
The realization that one is being targeted and perceived as vulnerable is a powerful one. I doubt it made either of their days. But it was fine fodder for talk among their friends, and the good news is, that realization will hopefully help them (and their friends) the next time a scam outfit calls.
A friendly holiday message from Ruth and Carol: In this holiday season, when old friends and distant family members may be calling, be on guard for fakes!