Seniors Outreach - January 17, 2018

“When you answer this call, before any legal action takes place, you must call back. My name is Alice Johnson with the Canada Revenue Agency and you can reach me at my division at 289-640-xxxx. Call back immediately”

Here I am, sitting in my home office and the phone rings. This was the call I received that day. Just as a side note: the information was repeated, however I did not get all of the information since my mind was working overtime as you will see.

As I listened, my mental processing went something like this:

The first time through, I was shocked that I was getting such a call but I did not understand everything.

The second time through I was, initially at least, sobered by the recognition that I might be in some trouble with the CRA. After all, that would not be good.

Then, as the call continued to go through the information the second time, my mind finally kicked in and recognized some key words – “before any legal action takes place.”

My mind began to grapple with the fear that comes with ‘legal action’, and I began to, in the front of my mind, recognize and entertain the thought that: wait, this might be a scam!

Just as quickly as that thought came at me, I was – in the pit of my stomach – disgusted and angry!

As it was ending the second time through, I had also recognized something else – this was a recording! I am listening and being bullied by a recording and not a real person. Who does that? Not a legitimate agency.

So, my response was to hang up immediately.

As I reflected on this incident, I now grasped a couple other of other thoughts that further upset me, frustrated me, then brought some clarity:

We are, seemingly, being forced to be isolated – especially in our homes and told that we are to respond to the technology pressures: social media, computers, cell phones, I Pads, etc. If we don’t respond we are wrong and in trouble.

We are being bombarded with the question – is this really the situation that we are in or something that we have done to ourselves?

The response is that “no we are not the problem”! Scams and fraud attempts go on continually in our society. There are answers out there – whether it is:

• Putting Caller ID on our phone system so that we do not answer what we do not recognize,

• Not responding to money request over technology if being forced to,

• Hanging up the phone immediately, or

Always having a ‘safety backup person’ to check in with before doing anything about such a call – especially if we ‘think it is legitimate’. Never make that decision by yourself to go ahead. A trusted family member, friend, professional, or organization, etc. is there for you. Please contact them as needed.

Perhaps, as I recognize the intentions of such calls myself, it is most important to not feel guilty or fearful about such calls. Especially if you just hang up and ignore them. It is not your problem, it is Their problem!

At Seniors Outreach we try, on an ongoing basis, to have Information Sessions on Scams and Fraud at the local seniors drop in centres across Kneehill County every so often. Please make yourself aware of when these sessions are coming up and attend them. These will provide directions, responses, and resources to keep you safe. Be safe, be astute, and above all, be there for each other. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Seniors Outreach.