Recently I got a sketchy phone call from a number I didn’t recognize; when that happens I never take the call. I looked it up I found that several people have reported it as a scam on various message boards. This reminded me that, once again, the basic philosophy for scam prevention we teach here on this page and on our podcast, The Scammercast, has so much merit:
“Never let yourself be chosen, always do the choosing.”
We also teach what we call “The 3 R’s of Scam Prevention.” The first R is “recognize,” meaning we seek to increase our readers’ and listeners’ capacity for catching scams from the moment of first contact.
To that end, it’s important to recognize what I call the “Nasty Nine,” nine telephone area codes that can seem legitimate, but are the sources of many of the scam solicitations that attack elders and others. Here they are, in no particular order:
Some of the above area codes are for places like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the British Virgin Islands, which, sadly have strong cultures of ripping off American elders. Others have a strong association with other offshore scams. With the explosion of new area codes because of cell phones, a person might not know that the caller on the other end is actually overseas.
One prevention step you might take, or encourage your seniors to take, is to purchase a call blocker device and block all calls from those area codes. If you have family or friends who live in one of those area codes, you can use a “white list” on the call blocker to only allow those numbers to get through. Remember there are no perfect prevention steps, but blocking the area codes above just might cut down the likelihood of a scam call in a major way.