Service of Caution

March 21st, 2013

Categories: Caution, Scams, Technology

The AARP is sending out postcards to “current resident” warning caregivers and older Americans about foreign lotteries—scams that are making the rounds via phone, email and mailed letter. [I haven’t seen this one yet but obviously it must be prevalent.]

This week I got an email from CNN headlining enticing news. I didn’t link from the email but instead went to the CNN website and there was nothing of the sort posted. That one scared me—I was inches from falling for it.

A friend is helping her son look for an apartment in upstate New York and she’s been letting her fingers do the research online. I asked her how it was going and whether she’d seen any of the spaces in person.

Turns out that many of the apartments she’d seen in listings on a well known website are scams. I know landlords who have filled their offices with legitimate business people through this listing. I was disheartened that for residential purposes so many opportunities were cheats.

These faux landlords are really looking for personal, credit and bank information, not tenants. Obviously the burgeoning polluted links that arrive via email aren’t designed by the only unscrupulous people online.

Takeaway: You’ve got to be cautious even if you’re the one reaching out.

Soon my friend realized what was going on: She didn’t fall for the requests to fill out all sorts of forms before seeing the properties. She said, “We’re going to a real estate agent,” and added, “It’s horrible that these people prey on innocent, poor people. Someone looking to rent a studio or one bedroom apartment isn’t usually affluent.”

Have you seen new Internet scams and swindles lately? How do you protect yourself from unscrupulous types who post on a legitimate site [which covers itself with appropriate warnings]?

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6 Responses to “Service of Caution”

  1. JBS Said:

    Years ago, I was told that if I didn’t know who the person/organization was, I shouldn’t give them any information… over the phone, Internet, by snail mail, etc. So I don’t. The exception is when I am familiar with the organization such as when I am buying something or making a donation and I’ve deliberately gone to their site.

    I still manage to require a computer “cleaning” by a professional occasionally, but not nearly as often as if I weren’t this careful. I also use an Internet security program, in my case, Norton, although there are other similar services. Oh yes, my son tells me that the services that offer to send free cards to people for you are often filled with bugs you don’t want, so I don’t use them any more either.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve not sent e-cards and the ones I’ve received seem pricey. Thanks for the tip about them.

    As for phone calls asking for things, if I don’t immediately hang up after I hear the telltale silence gap indicating a robocall, I ask for requests-in-writing and then I hang up although most often the caller has beaten me to it.

    I have a new anti-virus system that goes through my emails like a stranger sifting through papers in my office tossing out things willy-nilly. I am beginning to get the hang of it but having to check yet one more thing several times a day–I link to a site that lists the so-called spam–is annoying. I’ve found emails in junk from my sister, my husband, my clients and from associates with whom I am working on projects–it’s scary.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Where has AARP been all these years? The scams they are warning people about were rampant in the Stone Age of Internet. As for new scams, why bother counting? Best policy is to respond to no one on line unless it’s a “real” friend or company one speaks to on a regular basis. Same goes for the telephone or unexpected person who shows up at the door. Caller ID on the telephone and chain on the door work well. Beware the message from a known friend with a “Greetings” or “Hello” & etc. on the subject line. Open it and there a link, little or no more shows. It’s not a friend. Discard.

    The telemarketer has become a huge pain. One genius organization circumvents the law with a substantial block of telephone numbers which it launches on potential victim. Victims press #1 on the key pad to announce disinterest in future calls, a robotic voice apologizes “for the inconvenience” then proceeds to call on another number. I started taking down the numbers, after hearing the same voice, and when the entity “forgot” not to call, I put the blocking device into play. The silence would be enjoyable were it not for other calls which take their place. There will be little to no peace to be expected from these intrusions, but learning to cope, and even foil assaults on the pocketbook, provides pleasure in its own right.

    E-cards from respectable entities are very inexpensive – about $16.00 for an unlimited number per year. Try talking your friendly local card shop into such a deal!

  4. JPM Said:

    As someone who suffers from a physical disability which puts me at a serious disadvantage in comparison to my unaffiliated peers when using a computer, I view the internet, in all its ramifications, as a decidedly mixed blessing.

    Fortunately for me, however, during most of my working years, the internet didn’t exist, and I was able to compete successfully. I ended up being one of those who told others to wash the dishes and take out the garbage. Were I to have had to compete today, I would have been one of the many who spend their entire lives washing dishes and taking out garbage.

    Despite this, I’m inclined to think, largely for freedom of speech and like reasons, that the unregulated, lawlessness of our “anything goes” internet and its attendant negative impact on ethical attitudes in society as a whole, is preferable to some “big brother” having the power to decide what I should see, read, acquire or with whom I should communicate.

    I have been duped more than once when I forgot the old expression “caveat emptor,” and it has cost me, but I’d rather that than the tyranny of multiples of Mayor Bloomberg telling me how I may buy the soda pop that is going to poison me and, he says, eventually cost the city money.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder how many postcards AARP sent out? Maybe they had been hanging out in a warehouse and somebody said, “we can use these now.” And if the lottery scams are that old, I’m not surprised I don’t remember them of late.

    Your warning not to even play the press one, press two game–to simply hang up the phone when robo telemarketers call–is well taken.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Mayor Bloomberg may seem intrusive, but he has changed the direction of smoking and my bet is that he will also shine a light on the negatives of excess relating to food leading to overweight and the landscape for gun control–all good things in my opinion. The man has vision and he implements it, something rare in politicians.

    As for working today, my sense from reading your comment here and before is that you’re smart and you’d adapt and do brilliantly. In any case, there are fewer people needed to take out the garbage these days thanks to technology. There’s less paper for one thing. No doubt you’d figure out how to manufacture self-washing dishes before turning to that task.

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