Alyce Phinney (AP): And before we get started, just to let everyone know that we host these conversations every month, we pick a different topic. This was actually brought to us by one of our clients, and we did have some attempt on a couple of our clients with some security scams. And so this is definitely something that was kind of already on our radar, and then really just appreciate that somebody brought it to our attention, we really should focus on this so I went seeking out for our guest today and we’re really excited to have her join us.
So I just want to introduce myself my name is Alyce Phinney and I am one of the Wealth Advisors here at Argent Bridge Advisors and also the Director of Business Growth and in charge of being on these lovely coffee and conversations every month. And for those of you who are not clients of ours today that are joining us, just let you know that we are in an independent financial planning firm in Northern Virginia, serving clients internationally. I think we’re up to like seven countries now and 32 states I believe so.
We wanted to bring in and introduce today, Melissa Smarr who is the branch chief and code specialist III with the Fairfax County Government and works with the Silver Shield Task Force of Fairfax County, which provides community outreach and education on scams and fraud. She is a wealth of knowledge that she’s going to share with us, and we are excited to have her.
And one quick thing just let you know if you have any questions, we’ll go through, just some general questions that we came up with. And feel free at any point to put your questions in the double bubble, that’s going to be at the top or the bottom of your screen. It says “Q&A” and please leave the chat open just for any type of communication with me as far as tech issues or anything like that. So with that, we will get started so welcome Melissa Hello.
Melissa Smarr (MS): Yes, hello. Thank you for having me today. I really appreciate it.
AP: We are so happy to have you. I know you and I have already had an offline conversation, and today we’re going to bring it to our viewers and I know that in one of our conversations, you mentioned more than 25 million people are victims of scams in any one year. Tell us who is the most vulnerable amongst us.
MS: So ironically enough, it’s actually younger people that are more vulnerable. They actually are victims of scams more often. But the older population, they define that as 50 or older, can actually and are probably more likely to be scammed out of more money. And of course, you all have, you know, saved your entire lives, you are living off your retirement funds.
And so that’s where you all are more vulnerable. The younger people like I said are more likely to be a victim, but they have more time to recoup any losses and their losses tend to be smaller.
And I just am going to interject I had told Alyce that I’m going to interject a few stories. We are currently working a complaint, and we work with the Fairfax County Police Department, specifically on construction fraud, taking money under false pretense. There’s a new code section that came into play a couple years ago that Virginia passed where it is a crime to exploit the elderly, and that is defined as 60 years of age or older. And then with, you know, construction, basically that’ll start out as tree work graduate to chimney attic and roof work.
In this particular case, we actually had a gentleman, call us was taken for $100,000 in six days. And he may be had about between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of work and it started, he was out in his yard mowing his grass, two gentlemen approached him and said “hey your gutters look bad” so he agreed, even though they were probably in pretty good shape. They did a little bit of work, and now they’re basically holding his money for ransom.
AP: I’m sure you come across a lot of stories like that I know that you’re going to share some as we go through. I was actually on a webinar yesterday with Charles Schwab and some of the numbers that they shared with us were pretty. I mean it’s really astounding. And one of them is for, as you said that you know population is 50 and older, $4.2 billion worth total loss and 1.8 billion for just 2020 and that’s according to the FBI, and they really think that that numbers even larger for people who are really reluctant to come forward and, and actually make a complaint on that. So we are glad that you’re here and hopefully you can recoup some of his this gentleman’s money.
So I know that some of the scams are, you know, kind of ride in cycles with what’s happening, whether it’s, you know, tax time or holidays, things like that. Can you kind of just share a little bit more about what happens during those time periods.
MS: Sure, so I’m during tax season which usually I guess unofficially begins, you know, January, and then it goes through April and then the last couple years it’s been longer because of the pandemic.
There’s a couple of different scams related to the IRS number one. And they’re mostly either phone calls or emails. So the phone calls are, someone will pretend to be an IRS agent and basically, and they’re going to use scare tactics and that’s a lot of the, what the scams are predicated on is fear based.
And they’ll say that you know you, oh, I’m going to throw out a number $10,000, and that if you don’t pay that there’s going to be a warrant for your arrest, if in fact you’re, you know, behind in your tax payments, they’re going to send you a letter, they’re going to you know they’re going to not contact you via phone, text, or by email, it’s always going to be in you know via the US mail.
Then of course, now some of the scammers are getting smarter about that so now they’re creating documents and mailing them out to people’s homes. So, if you ever have a question of whether or not there, you know – If you have a letter, for example, you receive a letter and you’re not sure if it’s a real letter or not, you can always call, call the IRS and they will let you know but you want to be in control of any phone calls. So, for example, we tell people if you are not expecting a phone call or you’re not sure of the phone number, either you can not answer the phone, or if you do answer because you’re expecting a phone call, please just go ahead and if it’s not the person you’re expecting, hang the phone up. I know you know we grew up in a you know with our parents telling us “Don’t hang the phone up. Don’t be rude.”, but I’d rather you be rude, then become the victim of a scam.
The holiday scam that Alyce brought up. So usually around the holidays and that usually starts beginning of November through the end of the calendar year. There are many scams related to holiday scams. So, either. And I’m just going to name three, the three biggest ones that I recall from last year, number one, was where you let’s say you order from Amazon’s website, but it’s not Amazon, and then you never receive your packages because the money went to a fake Amazon email, you know website email address. That’s number one.
Number two, um, there are people that you know don’t keep track of the packages and then they pay for something, they never receive it. Or, it goes somewhere else, you know, and then of course stolen packages is a big thing related to that.
Number three, something that people may not think of – if you go into stores and you get your packages. Be careful when you come out, because, again, there are people that are going to be on the prowl at the malls and some of the bigger stores. And not to scare you. This presentation today and our conversation is not to scare you, but it’s to make you aware of, you know, certain scams. But there’s been some scams related to people actually, you know, following you from in stores and then trying to get your packages, before you get in your car.
And again, you just want to be, you know, very vigilant and making sure that you know you are safe when you’re at a store at the mall, any place you go, and even in your own home.
AP: Thank you and I’ll just follow up again, our intention today, you know really just to raise awareness and certainly not anyone’s anxiety. I mean if we value information is power and we hope that you know everything we hear today, we know it’s going to be informative for everybody so.
Kind of tell me about you know specifically I know charities is a big one in the during holiday time, that’s, you know, work to you know be generous it’s one time of the year that people kind of focused on that – How can we best verify charities if we come across something.
MS: Well, Virginia actually has a website if it’s a Virginia based charity that you can look up. If it’s something where they call you out of the blue and it sounds fishy, you can always ask for them to send you their information so you can do your research or due diligence. Scams are also related, charities scams, are also usually in conjunction, not only with the holiday season but also a natural disaster, whether it’s a hurricane or tornado, an earthquake – the power outages in Texas garnered a lot of people wanting to donate.
So just again making sure that if you want to donate and we appreciate you know everyone appreciates donations that it’s not going to go to a scammer, but it’s going to go to your intended organization that you want to support.
AP: And certainly we, you know, at Argent Bridge Advisors with our clients we have a way we can help you verify any of those charities as well. But, for anyone out there, you know, definitely we want to make sure that they’re giving to the right people, people with the right intentions.
So, kind of give us an example, you know, I know you’re going to walk through a couple but what is kind of one of the biggest scams happening right now?
MS: So, I’ll give the top two because I think that’s easier. Obviously, we’re seeing a lot more scams related to construction fraud, you know, you know taking money under false pretense, but also the coven scams are still around. And they’re a are take off of the IRS scams. so last year, the scams were related to – before there was a vaccine, you know, a miracle drug to cure COVID. Also related to that, were the scams with the money back from the federal government when they were given stimulus checks. That’s still around. So probably those two anything related to COVID and construction.
But there’s also romance which I’m sure we’ll get into in a little bit, that I would want to heighten, you know, just let people know about that as well.
AP: Well, we can, we can go into that right now. I mean the romance scam, I definitely know that with the FBI that’s really one of the biggest scams going on.
MS: Yeah. And so, and just so you know some of the scams actually kind of piggyback off each other and I’ll give you an example. A couple years ago we, the police, had received a phone call from a woman who was the victim, we thought of initially of a construction related scam. Well when the detective started doing some digging he actually found out that not only had she been the victim of a construction fraud scam, she also became the victim of a romance scam. And she was taken for well over a million dollars before she even knew it, and that was within a six-month period.
So romance scams happen a couple of different ways. So let’s say you find yourself alone – your partner has passed away or, you know, separated, divorce, you know, there’s many things going on these days. And so you’re alone and you decide you want to go ahead and join, you know, like a match.com, eHarmony, any of the hundreds and thousands of dating websites that have actually come in and a lot of new websites came in online with the pandemic. And you start talking to somebody, and it may not be the person that you’re talking to. So they may say that they’re, you know in Virginia, but they could actually be in Jamaica, or in Africa, or in a completely, you know, other country, continent in the world.
Um, there were actually a couple of cases recently that I saw on the news. I know I saw it on Channel Four news, where there was one law enforcement agent that actually posed as a, I think good, like a 40-year-old man and he took I think it was something like $5 million from people in the last 18 months.
So I mean those are few and far between, but you’ve got to – obviously you know the company is going to protect you with your money that are you know here today, but you’ve also got to, you know, do your due diligence to make sure that you’re not scammed. And any one of us can be scammed. I can be scammed. I know that my dad called me the other day and he got scammed over a construction fraud one. Luckily, he didn’t lose any money, but now he’s got to pay some money out to get some stuff fixed related to his roof and chimney, so you just want to make sure.
Going back to the romance scam, sorry I got off topic. So, the romance scams, um, they can be very painful, they can be very hurtful. If they start asking you for money within two weeks of meeting that is usually a red flag, indicating that this could be a romance scam or they don’t want to come visit you, they want to continue to talk to you.
But they’ll send you flowers. But, you know, they could be getting money from other people. So you want to make sure you see a picture but then sometimes people you know will put fake pictures on their dating profiles, so it is definitely very confusing and very complicated world when it comes to dating and these romance scams because these scammers are trying to continue to outpace, law enforcement, whether it’s the FBI, local police here in Fairfax County, or State Police depending on where you are.
AP: And that’s certainly one that I’m sure that touches all ages.
MS: Oh yes, absolutely. And I say, we learned that a lot of the scams kind of prey on a sense of urgency and specifically the grandparent scam – I know this touched my own family. My aunt and uncle got a call like. So the grandparent scam, again, is a fear based on scam. So they’ll usually have somebody on the phone that sounds like a younger person whether it’s a young child or someone in their, you know, 11 12 13, age, you know age range, and they’ll pretend to say, “I’ve been injured” or “I’ve been kidnapped” or “I’m in a hospital” or “I’ve been arrested”. Usually those are the top four scenarios that play out. And then of course, sometimes they get the information of your grandchildren’s names off of Facebook or Instagram or whatever social media platform you use. Sometimes it’s usually the victim themselves that will say “oh is this Timmy or Tommy or Jane”.
So basically, you’ve given them inadvertently information that they’re going to use to their advantage. And it’s fear based. Now there was one scam in Richmond a couple years ago, where the scammer actually had called the woman, and had asked her for $5,000 in iTunes gift cards. Now, again, iTunes gift cards. The reason why they want to use gift cards is because once you give them the number and you scratch the back of the card with the second set of numbers, they have that money pretty much within five minutes, and it’s hard to get back once they have the money.
So, a very alert Target cashier in Richmond discovered that when the woman came in to buy these gift cards that she was in fact being the victim of a scam. They were able to catch the people so that’s usually with the romance scam it’s usually very hard to track these people down, like I said, a lot of them are not local – they’re actually you know overseas, or in other states. And so she did not lose any money. Thankfully, in that particular case. But we have had people that have lost their entire life savings because of the grandparent scam.
Because they’re scared for their grandchild and they’ll send everything that they have to make sure their grandchild is okay, when in fact they’re probably sitting in their room or with their parents doing some type of activity.
AP: One of the things you just mentioned that there was kind of an astute cashier, that you know caught that. So what can we do for our clients to avoid becoming victims of scam and fraud? What can we do with consumers?
MS: So, the number one thing I would say is if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Again, if it’s a high pressure sales tactic and you don’t feel comfortable and your gut’s telling you something isn’t right, just hang the phone up. They may call back because now that they know that it’s an active line. You know, you can certainly block the call.
A lot of cell phone companies allow you to block phone numbers. I think depending on the company could be anywhere from 100 to 500 numbers but know the scammers will actually try to get variations of phone numbers. So even though you may block 100 doesn’t mean that they can’t get you on the 101 that you haven’t blocked.
Another tip I would say is, just make sure that if someone asks you for iTunes gift cards or any type of gift card, like Home Depot, Apple Pay, anything like that, usually that is indicative of a scam. Or if they ask you to wire money within like a week of meeting, let’s say for the romance scam, you know they’re asking you to send the money and you’ve never even met them. A gift card one actually happened to my sister where it looked like it was actually sent to somebody else. Her email was just like one letter off. So she received it, you know, it really just looked like her email and very casually said, you know I don’t have time you get at the store.
“Could you do me a favor?”, you know, that type of thing and it was someone that she thought she knew that’s what she thought it was coming from.
AP: I know you kind of just talked a little bit about you know things that are happening online and by phone. And you also touched on some of the things that are happening, just kind of face to face. Besides the damage or, you know, someone coming to your house for property work, construction, but what are some of the other common door-to-door, face-to-face type of scams happening?
MS: So door-to-door, they use magazines. There is a trick that they use on the construction scheme that I just want to touch on. A couple years ago, they would actually bring a couple people to your door or to someone’s door, not your door but someone’s door. And one of them would actually gain access to say that they needed to check the attic. So instead of being with the person when someone goes in your attic. They have another person distracting the person at the front door.
Well, what was happening was that the person who was going in the attic was either urinating on the installation or taking a water bottle and pouring water on the installation coming back down and telling the homeowner “Oh you have wet installation” when in fact they didn’t.
So you want to make sure that, again, if you feel pressure, and you decide that you want it. Okay, first of all, if you want to answer the door you have absolutely right, the answer the door. However, there is, you know, the Ring doorbell the security systems have their, you know, companies have their own systems where they can install a doorbell, that has a video camera on if you’re not expecting anybody, there is no rule that says you have to answer the door. But, if you choose to and you feel like a heightened sense that something isn’t right and potentially my safety could be in jeopardy or, you know, possibly something bad could happen, you need to call the police. You can tell them to please leave your property and if they don’t you can call the police.
We actually had a woman who told us that she didn’t want to bother the police and she was afraid that she was, you know, going to have bodily harm, you know, perpetrated on her so we don’t want anything, you know, any bodily harm associated with any type of scam, but it has been known to happen. And you just want to make sure that you’re safe. And then of course your money and family of course is up there as well.
So those are some of the tips that I would say just because again you just want to do everything that you can, and there is no foolproof, you know, magic bullet advice that Alyce and I could give you, but we’re just trying to give you tips to make sure that you understand that, again, any of us can be a victim, and you just want to make sure that you’re always kind of, you know, have your radar up. Just in case, you know, someone’s going to try to steal your money in various different ways that we’ve discussed.
AP: Now when I got the call from one of our clients you know it was an attempt, and you know she was so upset and, and I just said “look, this is what these people do for a living”. Every time you have something to say and object, they have something to say back because they’ve practiced it so many times, so you know this is what they do, they’re probably doing it all day, every day.
So, let’s say you know unfortunately something does happen you become a victim of fraud or scam or even an attempt. Who should we be contacting? Is it FBI? Is it a police department? Where do we start first?
MS: Well, I would start with your local police department, and I would do multiple reports on the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the FBI, keep track of the different scams.
Now the FBI usually doesn’t get involved, unless the loss is greater than $50,000 – kind of their money threshold. Fairfax County police at this point, do not have a minimum threshold that I’m aware of. And then of course, if you use your credit card – I would merely call your credit card company if you pay by check or debit, I would immediately call your financial institution, again to make sure that, you know, maybe you can get the payment reversed.
But again if you use iTunes gift cards more likely than not, those transactions take place pretty quickly, and usually that money is gone pretty quickly.
AP: And in our follow up that I’m going to send, I’ll send some links out. I’ve definitely have learned that there’s certain agencies that you want to report it to but they’re really only reporting it to other agencies so their agencies that are just the reporting agency and there’s agencies that can help you in the process of trying to recoup some of that money.
I see a couple of questions come through and we are going to get to them but let me just kind of wrap up some of my questions and then we’ll, we’ll move over there.
So, because, again, all of these scams, they’re smart, they’re smarter than us in so many ways. And they’re constantly developing. What are the best resources to kind of keep updated and know the scams and frauds as new ones are developing and gaining momentum?
MS: Um, I would say – so, Fairfax County is lucky enough to have a local Consumer Affairs Office so they’re actually on our Silver Shield Anti-Scam Task Force. So they have an investigator of the day, Monday through Friday that you can talk to.
If you want to talk to somebody on the phone, the local police department tries to put out bulletins when they can. So they have I think a Twitter page. If you want to look, if you want to sign up for their alerts, and then also the Federal Trade Commission they do a really good job and again, that would be where you would sign up via email. And they would they. I know I’ve done it myself and I received about two or three emails a day of potential scams that they know about or usually settlements with companies that have wronged consumers because they do that as part of their work.
AP: So, certainly here at Argent Bridge Advisors, you know, we’re always looking for signs of coercion, diminished financial capacity when we’re interacting with our clients, but can you share some examples of what someone would do if they were just observing a friend or family member that might be falling victim for a scam?
MS: And actually, that’s a very good question because usually how myself, and our other partners including the main Fairfax County Police Department find out about scams is usually because of a neighbor or a family member. It is very rare that someone that is been the victim of a scam will actually contact any agency again whether it’s the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, state police, or any local agency.
So, if you find out about a relative, neighbor, you know, friend, who may be the victim, you know, reach out again to the local police, and also Consumer Affairs is a great resource because a lot of the complaints that are filed with Consumer Affairs – they actually will refer the cases to me and then I farm them out to where they need to go. Um, so that’s worked out really well.
Now there are some schools of thought about whether or not you should report if you have lost any money. You can certainly report it, but a case may or may not be opened. And luckily that’s a good thing. I find that you know I’d rather not be the victim but a potential victim and not lose any money and not have the police be able to work on it, as opposed to losing a big amount of money, but you can certainly report it to the Federal Trade Commission because again they want to know where because they’re trying to develop trends, they’re trying to find out where these people are in the hopes that, you know, we can you know kind of curb some of this or curb this activity. And, I was telling Alyce earlier before you all joined us on the call that the estimated total loss for 2030, potentially, people are going to lose approximately $50 billion. And that’s a lot of money and you know we’re, there’s a lot of us, including Alyce and her group, that are trying to kind of curb this activity so that you all don’t lose your money. That is the common goal.
AP: I think it’s interesting what you said about you know us observing their people and catching it more than people catching up themselves, and that example what happened with one of our clients where the bank manager was, you know, looking, you know, just saw a change of behavior, and you know whatever it was something that kind of made him, you know, want to kind of go in dig a little deeper and find out what’s going on and luckily they pushed it and was able to save her quite a bit of money.
MS: So, yeah, things are now required to actually report any suspected losses monetary losses with our adult protective services in Fairfax County, and they’ve started a group called the Financial Exploitation Task Force which we’re part part of, as well as the federal or the FBI so we’re trying to combat these problems in so many different ways. But again if we don’t know about it, my motto is we cannot do anything about it.
AP: Yeah, absolutely. And we are so glad that you’re, you know you guys started Silver Shield. And I know that Fairfax kind of just had their Annual Scam Jam, which I love the name. Tell us a little bit a bit more about that how can we connect with you online and stay informed for the next one.
MS: Yeah, so it’s every usually the last Saturday in April of every year. This year, we had to do it virtually because the pandemic, last year’s unfortunately got canceled because the governor told us we couldn’t have any gatherings, and we couldn’t get it online, quick enough to have it in 2020.
So, we have a web page, and I can send that to Alyce of how we kind of try to keep things up to date, and that’s through our local Adult and Aging group, which is part of Department of Family Services.
And, yeah, so we tried it. We’re going to hopefully do it in person next year. We have speakers – we have usually gentlemen from the United States Postal Inspection Service, because they actually inspect any frauds that are perpetrated via the US mail. And there are a lot that actually happened to the US mail.
So we kind of have like a half day where we kind of get together – we try to give the most up to date information we give examples on you know scams. So I was telling Alyce – we cannot, you know, tell people names of who’s been the victim of a scam, but we can tell you the general stories. And, you know, again, it’s just – I’ve been doing this work now for about 10 years and it doesn’t get any better, when, you know, we find out that someone has lost their entire life savings. So, Scam Jam usually last April and every year, and it’s usually held at the Government Center. And I can get Alyce that information as we continue to plan it for next year.
AP: So in the follow up I’m going to have everything that Melissa provides for me. And then the link for the, you know, Federal Trade Commission, as you mentioned, I’ve got the Do Not Call Registry, how to check your credit. And one thing that’s interesting with what’s happening with COVID right now with credit check – through April of 2022, you can actually go and get free credit reports every month, if you want.
So that’s something that they’ve extended through 2022. And then we have, you know, other links again Consumer Protection Bureau. I will say when I started, kind of, you know, going down rabbit holes on the internet, it was confusing, which is why I wanted to really spend the time to put together a good follow up for everybody because some of the links didn’t work, some of them had conflicting information as far as, you know, where to report it and that’s kind of really, when I started to understand that, again, some agencies are just reporting to other agencies and obviously some are out there to recoup, you know, the money and things like that.
MS: We’re going to get on the local level to do that in Fairfax County, but it really depends on if we can even find the perpetrators that is usually the biggest obstacle.
AP: Absolutely. I think I mean to me education is the best way because we can get ahead and, you know, be smarter than they are right now.
So Melissa if it’s okay, we’re going to get into a couple of the questions that we had coming through. First one is, are there a lot of scams where you try to sell something online?
MS: The short answer is yes. And, you know, it’s one of those things where you got to try to do your best to do due diligence. And again, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Um, and there’s no hard and fast rules on, you know, whether or not you should or shouldn’t.
But, just a couple of tips. If it’s something where, if you click on the link, if it’s online for example, and you click on it, and it let’s say it was advertised on Amazon, and it takes you to a totally different website than Amazon, it’s probably a scam.
I know eBay. People have some success or good success on eBay, others have had horror stories on Craigslist is kind of the same thing. There was actually a story on dateline where you could actually find someone to murder a loved one if you wanted on Craigslist which I found extremely scary but apparently it is true. Um, that’s kind of an extreme case but I was quite alarmed when I heard that on dateline.
So you just want to make sure that if you do decide to pay online, or buy something online use your credit card because you have more time to actually dispute a charge than you would if you use the debit card or write a check.
AP: So this next question is about social security. Is social security allowed to call you and what are some of those social security scams?
MS: Ah, well, I have never known, the Office of Social Security Administration to ever call anyone. Again they would contact you via US mail. They would not use text, phone, or email. Some of the recent scams have been so Virginia was the first was more Medicare but, um, let me back up. So back in the early 2000s, there were people that were actually going through mail to steal people’s so security checks around the country.
Now that it’s more organized in the sense that a lot of people receive it through direct deposit, it’s just making sure that it doesn’t get stolen electronically. Online banking is safe, I’m not saying it’s not but of course they’re always could be an instance where someone hacks into your account. And that could be, I mean, I had a credit card in my wallet and someone used it in New York, and I had possession of it so somehow they got my number. So, anything can happen on that.
Um, those are pretty much the two big scams and then also, be careful about giving your social security number out to people, especially if they call you on the phone if you didn’t initiate the phone call. Because no bank, no federal agency state, or local agency are going to ask for your social security number even if they were going to ask for that they would just verify you know the last couple of digits, it wouldn’t be the whole number. I do that and be careful and even be careful if you didn’t initiate the call. And it’s the last four digits , that’s pretty safe. But if they ask you for the entire one then yeah you want to not give that on the phone. Yeah.
AP: And I do know for security, you know I’ve helped several clients, you know, initiate some security claim, and you typically have to set up an appointment. And if you don’t catch that up – if you miss that call, one second, they’ll never call you again.
MS: You got it.
AP: So, this next question is a good one. What is the advantage of having LifeLock and I do know that there’s different levels, and not knowing which level of LifeLock but in general.
MS: So LifeLock is a pretty good system I mean it’s something you have to pay for. But it’s going to monitor your accounts on a pretty regular basis and identify any irregularities much quicker than if you did it yourself.
AP: And this next question is – where does one go to find these services in other states and countries? I guess meaning what, in terms of education services, I guess.
MS: Well, I’ll answer it broadly and if he wants to specify. So, if they’re looking for enforcement, obviously, if it’s a different country, they’re going to have their own enforcement and how they do that. A lot of it is probably finding it online. And basically like you said going down rabbit holes and doing as much research as you can to find what you’re looking for.
AP: So, in some of the research I came up and will also be sending out the ways for the three major people, you know, for the credit bureaus thing for them to do if you want to do a lock or a freeze on your credit.
So, a lot of people are doing that, especially if they’ve been attempted, you know it’s common for them and actually that’s what a lot of the websites that I’ve read that recommendation for them to go in and freeze the credit after an attempt like that.
MS: Yep. Correct.
AP: I want to see if any other questions come through. And as we’re waiting to see if anything else comes through. Just want to thank everybody for joining us today.
Thank you, Melissa for joining us today. Really appreciate it – thank you for being out there and helping us stay safe and learn about everything. We have another question that just came in.
[reading from the chat] “Unfortunately, I learned the hard way to not give a waiter your charge card.”
I feel like you know right now with the pandemic because everything’s really trying to be contact-less, you know, you can’t even get a menu without having your phone and you know hopefully we’re going to see more and more, restaurants, bringing over, you know the code, you know, like the little strip thing that you can just put your credit card in right there. So I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.
So someone said “Granted, I initiated the call myself but I called the local Veterans Administration hospital pharmacy today, and I was asked for my whole social security to verify my identity to put them to for them to new medication. I was uncomfortable with that but I didn’t really think I had a choice. It’d be really nice to see if VA would change this manner of verifying me.”
I mean, I think it’s probably just every agency is different, and unfortunately there’s so many rules and regulations that go through that it probably just takes a long time to get something like that change. I would, my suggestion would really be, you know, to call you know try to send an email to the pharmacy and/or the hospital and let them know that that’s something that there should be another way to verify you and more people that do that, hopefully they can make those changes.
MS: Well yeah I mean it took it took a long time for, because remember in Virginia our social security numbers were on our licenses up until probably 2005, 2006.
So, and I remember being in college, and my social security number is on my ID card I still have it to this day. Luckily, I didn’t lose it, but it was, you know, your name and your social security number.
AP: I joke with my kids and that’s why they can’t, they don’t, forget their social security numbers, I had no choice.
MS: Right, exactly. Because I mean, they would even use it the post grades.
AP: Now, absolutely. Well I think this is informative and for everyone out there I’ll be sending out a fantastic follow up. Please share it with your friends, your family members, post it on social media, again, the more people who kind of know about what’s happening and stay in front of what’s happening. I think less likely that they will be a victim or even more likely that they’ll be able to identify something that’s happening to one of their loved ones or friends or family.