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Stranger on the phone isn’t a friend

12 April 2012
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – April 2012

I am unable to keep track of the number of phone calls I receive each week from people who either try to sell me something, ask me to participate in a survey that will only take three minutes (yeah right), or are soliciting money for a charity.

I have also supposedly won some trips and prizes but never stay on the phone long enough to find out exactly what my big win was. I have my name on a “do not call list,” which might protect me from receiving even more calls.

I hope they understand that my lack of patience is not personal. These people are doing their jobs, but they are not my friends.

However, when someone who spent a day alone at home with little or no social contact receives such a call, their reaction might be very different than mine. They hear a friendly, engaging voice and may welcome any kind of conversation. A friend is defined as a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. The stranger on the phone is an employee with a mandate to perform a task.

Of great concern are scam artists who target our elderly population to turn over large amounts of money. These fraudsters are skilled at using such strategies as befriending their target or pretending to be someone of authority. They may have a vulnerable person believe they won something of great value but must turn over a sum of money to receive this prize. Some of these con artists are based out of the country and hard for officials to locate. Often the most vulnerable are the least educated on this subject.

If you receive a phone call from a stranger, be on guard. Do not offer any information. End the conversation quickly. You can always ask for a telephone number to return the call at your convenience.

If you feel that there is something suspicious, contact the local authorities or call government-run PhoneBusters, 888-495-8501.

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Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775