Tis the season of the phone scammers and identity thieves. Post-holidays and pre-taxes seems to be the time that the cockroaches and rats crawl out of their cracks and spread out to attack as many unsuspecting people as they can.
Having received my annual uptick of unsolicited calls this week prompts me to share this reminder. DO NOT BECOME A VICTIM OF THEIR SCHEMES.
See if you recognize these:
#1. The caller identifies themselves (usually in accented voice) as being from “Microsoft Windows Support” and say “we are calling today because your computer us sending us error codes indicating that your computer has a virus (or that someone is trying to steal your identity)”. The irony of this one is; if you do follow their instructions that’s exactly what could happen. This is a scam! Don’t do it. Windows will not call you like that! Just hang up!
#2 Health care. A good percentage if the population has some kind of chronic health concern. So these vermin call up and say that they can get you free meters, supplies and equipment or medications because of the new government health care plans. They just need your personal information. No! No! A thousand times no! I even had one fool come right out and ask me to give them my social security number and birthdate! What?! How stupid do you think I am? This scam is identity theft with a bow on it!
#3 Debt Collector. They claim to be from some debt collector. They may even have the name of a company or medical group or hospital that you have used. They claim that you owe some amount of money and that they can take care of that amount right now by phone. They want you to give them either your checking account information to process an electronic draft or your credit card information!! GREEE GREEE GREEE! Listen to those loud alarms going off in your head.
BE SMART. RIGHT FROM THE START
There are people right now who make their living by taking your money. These cockroaches get you to believe they are helping you while all the while they are getting into the cupboard and going straight for the goodies.
They prey upon the fact that people are ignorant. Most people don’t know that our computers are running self-diagnoses quite often and these “codes” that they show you with a right click here and a double click there do not actually mean what they say they do. They are trying to get you to give the commands to your computer that will allow them remote access to your personal computer or device! Once they have you convinced that they will diagnose it for free with “just install this free download” or “click on this link”, you have just invited an army of hungry cockroaches to the feast. And they bring all kinds of worms and viruses with them.
Then the rats are those brazen enough to actually steal your identity. They can convince you that you’ve overlooked a bill that needs to be taken care of right now! Please, please think before you fall for it.
While it is true that most of us have computers, bills and maybe debt and health concerns… It is simply evil to use those cracks as thoroughfares into our personal lives!
SO WHAT DO WE DO TO PROTECT OURSELVES?
ðŸ‘KEEP A RECORDðŸ“
Time; phone number, who was speaking and what was said.
Many phones have ability to record which I have used with the statement “excuse me for interrupting, but, by law I must inform you that I am recording our conversation. Now will you please repeat that from the beginning? Thank you.”
It’s simply good advice to keep your personal information private. If a legitimate person calls you and says something like those examples above, simply get verification that they are legitimate. How? Ask them their full name and company name including spelling and a phone number where you can call them back. Lol
You can say: “thanks for bringing this to my attention. I need to research how this could have happened. I wasn’t aware of that bill; would you please mail me a copy. (they should the exact date, provider and have your address with any legitimate debt). Just ask them to read the address that your file shows and you will verify. After all THEY called you, remember.
Tell them “I do want to take care of this but must call you back later.” When they say that they will call you instead insist that you call them. Legitimate callers will provide a name, number and extension.
I once had one particularly creepy scammer actually give me a phone number. I always read back number to verify I don’t get wrong number too. When I immediately dialed the number, I spoke with some young lady visiting a condo on vacation!! The dude intentionally gave me a bogus number. The innocent lady said that she appreciated the heads up to be able to handle any future calls like mine.
âš ï¸ DO NOT GIVE OUT INFORMATION TO THEM ON THE PHONE AT THAT TIME.
No matter how URGENT their claim, or threats of legal action. They legally have to provide written notice.
Learn about the company.
Obtain a copy of their claim.
KNOW who you are speaking with!
You can start by doing a web search of the number. Just enter the number into websites such as CallerCenter.com and Whocallsme.com or just Google it. You may discover several complaints that mirror your own experience.
âš ï¸ DO NOT PUSH BUTTONS.
The caller or recording may ask you to push a certain number with the promise they won’t call you anymore. Good idea? âš ï¸ACK!! What you really just did was verify that if they call your phone number they get a real live person and not a machine.
âš ï¸ DO NOT PAY ONE PENNY UNTIL YOU HAVE PROOF THAT YOU OWE IT.
Some of these debt collectors are collecting on debts another company has already taken payment for! Pay what you owe, but good luck trying to get back money you’ve overpaid.
If someone thinks to themselves that just paying the $49 that they say I owe is easy to take care of by giving them credit card information, they may find they’ll have a whole lot more problems to deal with in trying to account for a slew of unauthorized charges or their identity being stolen.
âš ï¸ JUST BE SMART.
Although we do have legitimate dealings by phone with service providers and such. I am trying to help fight the growing amount of victimization by bringing a growing awareness of some of the schemes and ploys that are at work right now.
ðŸ’¡ TURN ON THE LIGHT! Send the vermin scurrying away and tell the exterminators. Turn on the light of truth and awareness of the schemes. Report your experience of violators of ‘No Call List’ to your state attorney generals office, the better business bureau, FB friends and family. I have even gone so far as to contact Microsoft Windows (the company who was being false represented) via Twitter so they can put their vermin exterminators to work. They don’t take kindly to such activity.
SIMPLE STEPS WE CAN TAKE TO STOP THE CALLS & PROTECT OURSELVES.
â–¶ï¸ Join the no call list to stop unsolicited phone calls.
â–¶ï¸ Use your phone and/or phone carrier to block unsolicited callers. Be sure to find out if your carrier charges for this. It at least helps stop the repeat calls until they switch numbers.
â–¶ï¸ Screen your calls. Just don’t answer calls that your caller ID does not recognize. If it is important they will leave a message and you can call them back. No message? No call back.
â–¶ï¸ Keep yourself and others safe.
Just like we tell our kids. Don’t give personal information to strangers.
What you say can be used against you if you trust someone who says they are for you but are really just serving themselves.
â–¶ï¸ Consider enrolling in an identity protection service like Lifelock.
Did you like this post?
What experiences or tips can you add?
When it comes to these kinds of things we really can help save each other from a lot of harm.
Today I am sharing what I have learned and am still learning about practicing peace with the unfinished.
It boils down to realizing that I, myself am unfinished. It is amazing to me how a new attitude can change frustration into forgiveness and disappointment into acceptance of what was just not to be. Frenzied fervor which has whipped me up into a tornado of inefficient, disorganized activities can intentionally be reformed into a planned strategy of purposefully taking whatever comes next, doing my best and realizing that is ALL I can do. If something remains undone I will assess it factually and without guilt. What can I learn in the failure?
If only I had all the energy, strength and time to fulfill ALL the things that I’d like to do. When I was younger I did not have so many considerations; I just thought of something and did it.
However, as age, injuries, obligations and wisdom have hammered on me a bit, I now have to intentionally consider the steps that I take.
The fact is:
I will NEVER have enough time to do ALL the things that:
â€¢ I NEED to do,
let alone all those that
â€¢ others EXPECT me to do, or
â€¢ even those I WANT to do (pleasure, leisure, vacations & hobbies).
As time marches on, seemingly faster and faster like a downhill snow boulder, I have been plagued by all the “should’a, would’a, could’a” done things.
I have felt the pain of failure so many times. The perceived guilt I’ve felt of letting others down by not completing a task may not have been the case at all, as I learned when I honestly analyzed later. I discovered it wasn’t that important to them. It was only a big deal because I “thought” it was a big deal. A part of me believes that a person thinks less of me because I have disappointed them. To look at that honestly, I had taken the focus off of the joys of doing something to help others and perverted it with misconceptions as to what they would think about me?! Yikes!
I think there is a tendency for some people to lean more toward the people-pleasing side of social interactions. On the opposite side of that pendulum swing is that “I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me” attitude. Of the two sides I definitely lean more toward the former.
As I realign myself with the teachings of God’s Word found in the Bible and taught in wonderful church sermons and small group studies, I have learned a far better way that brings sharper focus and overwhelming peace…God’s way is the best way.
My Type-A, driven personality makes sure that the most critical person of what I do or don’t get done is ME! So my natural bent is to be very hard on myself. I used to reason that as long as I demand perfection from myself no one else will be hurt or hurt me. Nope. It’s still sin. I was still putting my own demands above everyone else’s…most especially God’s. But God is working on me to transform my thoughts and actions. He is ingraining the thought that I am not good or bad because of what I DO. Rather I am only good because of what Christ did. It’s not about me or what I do or do not do.
As a reasonably intelligent person, I try to avoid unnecessary pain and learn from my mistakes. This life lesson is obviously still underway, yet I am making progress.
Due to chronic and unpredictable physical challenges I have incomplete “to-do” lists that have items that have moved forward to the next list so many times that I should have them pre-printed on the pad of lists. Obviously, I have to approach my disappointments of undone projects in a new way.
It saddens me to have such great intentions and then not be able to complete that task to the degree I had planned. Therefore, I am trying to be more thoughtful about the tasks that I accept or add to my To-Do List.
Here is my suggestion for dealing with the perpetual to-do list. I ask myself this basic analytical question:
“is this really something I should do?”
Let’s look at that question a keyword at a time.
â—½ï¸Really — I need to tell myself the truth! Maybe a reassessment is in order. Maybe circumstances have changed and so should my list. This is especially true if we tend to have a hard time saying “no” to others or get easily diverted by creativity ideas popping into our head that we want to add to our lists. If there are too many demands, we have to intentionally postpone items or even eliminate some from our agenda. There are always more tasks than time to complete them.
How many times have we thought we could do something that later turned out to be so much more difficult than we had first thought?! How many times have we regretted agreeing to take on something without thinking it through first? This is a lesson that one either learns from or repeats often, isn’t it?
We have to say “no” sometimes.
And for me at least, I need to remember that I am NOT a bad person just because I said “no” to one thing (even in helping others). You see, in saying “no” to even some good things, it frees me up to say “yes” to even better things.
â—½ï¸SOMETHING — Is this the “right” thing? Is this a “need, an “expectation” or a “want”? What’s the priority? Is it in the right order or does order even matter (just do it)? Is this a task that has smaller steps that are required or easier to complete or require more assets than I first thought?
âš ï¸Warning: As much as helping others is beneficial and nobel, if we neglect meeting our core needs (self, God, spouse & family) we will have less to give. Then we may suffer frustration, loss of joy and even dread of becoming involved in other lives and activities.
ðŸš¨Not all thinking of ourselves first is “selfishness”; sometimes it is necessary self-care!
âœˆï¸ It’s like that famous statement given during every pre-flight safety training: “in the event of a sudden decompression of the cabin, oxygen masks will automatically fall down from the ceiling. Grab the mask firmly. Jerk down firmly to start the airflow through the tubing. Place the mask ON YOUR OWN FACE FIRST before helping to place a mask on your children or others.”
â˜‘ï¸Each and every step in that check list is important. If you just notice the mask but don’t grab it and jerk it and apply it to your own face, it will be of absolutely no use to you. . . And you will be of no use to anyone else!
If you pass out due to lack of oxygen you are suffering and will not even be able to help others. But, if you take care of yourself first, then you are equipped with what you need to help others.
â—½ï¸I — Am I the one who needs to do it? Am I the right person for the job? Is someone else better equipped to complete the task? Why should I go around in circles trying to perform something that I have neither the knowledge, physical ability or resources to complete in a timely fashion.
There are times when improper assignment of a task or changes in circumstances meeting the challenges gets overwhelming. How many of us enjoy the spinning beach ball or blank blue screen or all those error codes when the computer interrupts our productivity? I don’t know about you, but there are few greater prompts for turning to prayer. I am stopped…by a solid block wall of inability! I have been forced to address such emergencies when I am not well equipped to do so. I HAD to learn enough to get through or avoiding an emergency. However, I will plan on hiring a computer geek to thoroughly work on my computer. They can do it in a fraction of the time and with great skills that I do not possess nor have the time or desire to learn. This is an example of smart re-delegation; NOT me, but someone else gets this one.
â—½ï¸SHOULD — â“Is it a true, right, useful, excellent idea or activity? Is this the best use of time, money and materials? Not that it is just a GOOD use of time (assets), but the BEST use of time (assets). Why am I doing this? I need to examine my motivation in even doing this. Are my motives self-serving, altruistic, or am I manipulating a situation or what others may or may not think of me? Does this solve a problem or create more? Am I progressing in my goals and in line with God’s will or what I value. Pursue the most excellent to accomplish those things that last. Oooh ðŸ˜¯
â—½ï¸DO — This refers to the specifics of actually doing something. When does it need to be done? Is there a deadline or a certain order in completing? How much time needs to be scheduled to complete and process? Too often we forget to include the time and resources involved in: gathering the needed tools & parts, set-up and clean-up or allowing for processes that require additional time (measuring, chopping, cutting, paint drying, food baking or cooking, etc).
The location is important because it has to consider size of work area, climate, access to tools and availability.
No matter what, the degree of effort that I place in doing my very best at a job — the quality of work — is far more important than the quantity. I have needed to remind myself of this often. It’s not how many things that I get done, rather, it’s the quality of the work that I do that really matters. My character is displayed not only in what I have done, but also in what I have not done as well as my attitude about what I do or do not do.
I can only hope that my sharing these thoughts and hints on handling the undone perpetual to-do list will be of use to you.
For those of you who, like myself, face even harder times managing because of unpredictable health challenges, I pray this has encouraged you to show yourself grace. Be kinder to yourself. Do what you can, take breaks often, and celebrate the accomplishment of even the littlest of steps.
It is said that life is about climbing the mountain getting ever higher. If one tries to look at the top of the mountain from it’s base, he likely will not even see its peak which has perforated the clouds. One could become discouraged and give up trying. But I encourage you dear friend…take a step. I don’t care if it is a long on or short one, fast or slow. Just take a step! Now you are that much closer to the top.
One person’s trek down the hall a few steps to the bathroom may be equivalent to another’s marathon in terms if effort and energy drain. So comparing our journey to another’s may be grossly unfair. So stop comparing your accomplishments to others. Instead, truthfully assess your own self in relation to the load that you yourself bear. Now, take that next step!!!
No matter what any other person says or does . . . NO ONE (including you) can ask for anything more than your best!
So, at the end of the day, if you are looking at an unchecked box or more on your To-Do list …so what? Did you do your best? If you did – then rejoice in what you’ve done; no matter how small, celebrate the victory. If you did not – then ask yourself what you can learn in the truthful analysis of the unchecked box…”is this really something I should do?”
By living this way, there is peace: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
Colossians 3:23 (NIV)