Cruella de Vil and the credit card charges

Late last week, I answered a very early morning call on my landline (I know they seem to be a relic from a not so distant past), and was somewhat startled by the long distance ring tone at that time of the day. When I answered, there was a long pause and then an automated recording began. The electronic voice immediately brought to mind the distinctive voice of the character, Cruella de Vil from the Disney movie 101 Dalmations. I recognized that I should simply hangup the phone but being captivated by the voice in the recording, I stayed on the line.

The recorded voice told me that I had an unauthorized credit card charge from eBay (which I have never actually used) of $300.00 and some cents. I continued to listen and was told that I had incurred an international charge over $1,000.00. The Cruella de Vil voice did not tell me at any time in the recording what type of credit card I had. Just another nonsense scam phone call albeit at a much earlier time in the day than is typical. At this point, I hung up the phone both annoyed and thinking about the frequency of fraudulent activities that try to permeate so many areas of our lives these days.

It seems that daily we are bombarded with newspaper and online reports of the latest phishing emails or text messages. The formulas for robocalling seem to defy logic and at first I thought the volume of these calls was due to having a landline telephone and now that I am retired, I am at home to answer them. When I was working, I did not experience these types of calls throughout the day so this is a relatively new experience. Certainly, there were weekly updates at work on the latest types of emails that you were to report and forward immediately to the IT department. We were frequently advised not to click on any links in suspicious emails, etc. but this all seemed somewhat innocuous to me at the time.

Now these calls come on any type of phone along with toxic text messages that now warrant routinely sending them to trash. If you travel, you have to protect your passport as well as credit cards with special covers that are lined with metal inside. This apparently is to fend off scanning devices which use the chips on those items to potentially pirate your identity and money. News reports tell us of business and government departments who have inadvertently released confidential employee information and warn us when finance departments have sent funds to phony new bank accounts. These are just the tip of the iceberg and the list of scams seems endless to me.

In addition, attending the latest anti-fraud protection seminar is important no matter who you are. Keeping up with all of the tricks used by scammers can be exhaustive as well as annoying. Explaining to elderly friends and family members about the complexity of scams as well as how commonplace they are, is an ongoing necessary task. At times, we like to believe that we would not fall victim to these scammers but really we are all equally vulnerable. I wonder what it will take to turn the tide and begin to trust the daily messages we receive.

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