I get exactly the same three scam phonecalls every afternoon, with the same exact scripts and even the same hold music.

They don’t honor my do-not-call requests and they have a different caller ID number each time so I can’t block them. So if I’m bored, I screw with ’em. I waste their time so they can’t call other people. I practice faking sincerity.

The credit-card rate scammmer

“I am calling from Card Holder Services. I am looking at your payment history and I see that you always pay your credit card bills reliably every month and sometimes you try to pay a little extra. Experian has selected you to receive a lower interest rate for the life of your credit card. How much would you say you owe on your credit cards? … Which of your cards has the highest balance? … What is its expiration date? … What is your billing zip code? … Now would you please verify me [sic] the card number? … And for verification purposes please tell me the last four digits of your social security number? … Now please hold while I pull up your payment history and account information.”

This scammer (always an Indian guy) then calls the credit card company and pretends to be me so that he can verify the information I gave him. Were he to be successful, he’d then offer me ways to reduce my credit-card rate. The ways he’d offer would be much, much more expensive than if I simply contacted my credit-card company on my own. He might also decide to go on a shopping spree with the credit card I just gave him.

I provide fake information, of course, which I keep on file so that if he asks for the same information again in the call I’ll give the same numbers again. So he always comes back perplexed, saying “the card you gave me does not match my records,” but I insist I have it right here in my name and that I just used it to buy coffee from Starbucks this morning. Sometimes he’ll ask me to confirm the number then he’ll go run it again, but it doesn’t work that time either. He’ll ask if I have another card. I give him a debit card number that corresponds to a bank in Alberta, Canada. He’ll say “sir, that is a debit card.” I’ll say “but it has a Visa logo on it!” We’ll go in circles for a minute or two.

If he’s suspicious, he will make up numbers and say, like, my balance is $4531.20 and my last payment was $150 on the 15th, and if I were to say “that’s right” then he would say he caught me in a lie. But I say no, those don’t sound right, and that usually confuses him more.

Finally he’ll give up. If he’s polite, he just hangs up on me. If he’s not polite, he accuses me of wasting his time and tells me to shove my card up my butt (always that particular insult, always cards up butts), and I ask “do your parents know you talk to people that way?”, and then he hangs up. Either way I can usually keep him from calling other people for 15-20 minutes if I want.

I find it interesting that he never asks me my name.

The pain relief scammer

This one starts as a recorded message saying that this call is in response to my inquiry for relief from back and knee pain. (I made no such inquiry, of course.) If I press 1 to speak to a human, I get connected to someone – usually a woman with an American accent who’s obviously working in a call center – who asks for details about my pain. This is a Medicare scam; they want to send me cheap braces and then bill Medicare thousands of dollars for them. There’s really not much I can do with these scammers (I don’t want to describe fake pains then give them a stranger’s address), so I usually hang up on the initial robocall.

The funeral expenses scammer

This is again always an Indian guy, calling to say he is offering a plan to cover the cost of all my final expenses, and he would like to have somebody else call me back later with details, so what time of day is good for me? Morning? Afternoon? Evening?

I cheerfully choose morning, and he says he’ll have someone call me, and what is my age? Twenty-four, I tell him. He hesitates. Is there anyone in the household aged fifty to eighty? No, I say.

And then he hangs up on me.

1 thought on “Scams”

  1. I always get the one that starts with the robocall, always a female voice: “This is $FEMALENAME” from card services.” It goes on to tell me it can get me a new interest rate and tells me to press 1 to be connected to an operator. The very first time I got one of these, I connected, and then I spent a few minutes trying to get him to tell me which bank. His answer: “All of them.”

    Very funny.

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