“This is Rachel from cardholder services.”
“This is Officer Klimke from the IRS.”
“This is technician Smith from Microsoft support.”
It goes on and on, day after day.
Americans lost $9.5 billion in 2016 to phone scams, based on a survey by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller, a company that provides phone security services.
The scammers have not slowed down and are not seasonal in their scam cycles. Governments seem disinterested in taking care of the business of enforcement.
If you want to hear what actual scam calls sound like, there are individuals who call themselves “scam baiters” whose sole purpose is to tie up scammers, wasting their time while trying to keep others from being victimized. Scam baiters are diverse — young, old, male, female, multi-cultural and national. They operate through humor, but are serious about the nature of their work. You can find their recorded calls on YouTube. Here are some recent search results from You Tube showing there are many to choose from:
Search Result Videos
IRS scams.....................1.04 million
IRS tax scams................208,000
MS tech support scam.....288,000
Credit card scams..........144,000
With the help of animated characters and/or character names such as Diana Prince, Kermit D Frogg, Clark Kent, etc., Voice Changers, Sound Boards, and 24/7 live streams, they do their best to tie up hours of the scammers' time, saving people from becoming victims.
After listening and viewing the videos you will wonder, “They are so bad, how could anyone fall prey to their scams?” The reality is that people do, mostly older, college age and people not from this country.
But is scam baiting a waste of time? No, they are having some effect. The scammers are more cautious in screening their calls. They even have begin asking their victims to honk their car horns after demanding they drive to the bank or the store to pick up gift cards.
There are a few examples of radio stations airing short calls back to the scammers that can also be viewed on YouTube. There are a lot of great opportunities here for audio and video content to help get the word out to more people about the scams.
Jay Melnick lives in Green Valley.