Scammer calls. Does anyone actually fall for them?

My employer wants us to all be on guard against scam emails, but they persist in sending emails that frequently have many hallmarks of scams. It’s very hard to tell sometimes.

This happens all the time to me too.

There’s a huge difference between two different types of scam:

One type is legitimate-sounding business fraud, and I can see how a reasonable person (like me!) may fall for it. (examples from this thread: a fake renewal of your existing phone service, or a fake notification to send your payment to a different bank account, for your existing bills.
The other type is stupid beyond comprehension, and I refuse to believe that I or anyone I know could fall for it. A Nigerian prince wants to give me a million dollars, or the IRS tells me to pay my taxes with thousands of dollars in gift cards.

Two very different kinds of fraud.

Put the way you type it, no one would fall for it. Wrap it all in some plausible story, and catch you at a time when maybe you are not thinking so clearly, then… Maybe?

Does anyone in the US get the ‘little’ scams? One I have received a few times here in Aus is a recorded voice message purporting to be from either the Tax Office, a Toill Road company or the Local council, saying I owe a small amount of money- say $40-50, ansd instructions as to how to pay over the phone.
My guess is a lot of people will pay this thinking ‘Well, I do use that Toll road a bit, and I don’t want to get into any trouble with the Tax Office, so I’ll just pay this small debt off and avoid any hassle’.

And then the scammer has won:
a) He has your $40-50 (and probably has bots running that can make thousands of robot calls per day)
b) He has your credit card details
c) He knows you can be a fruitful target

True, but I think the Microsoft/Windows fraud is of a third, more ambiguous category. It’s about something you actually use — that you’re a customer of, like your first category — but it exploits how few of us really know how we are tied to that company, in terms of payments and services.

Same goes for the Social Security or IRS scams.

These scammers have identified certain things we all use, and tried to make us think they are just like companies we are regular customers for, with simple monthly payments or fees for service.

I disagree. It really depends on the fact that we all use technology that most of us know very little about. We press a button or click a picture on a screen and something happens. And we know (or think) that it’s Microsoft that makes it all work.

So, when some helpful chap phones us and says that he is from Microsoft and it seems we have a problem - easily fixed if you follow these instructions, or better yet, just let me take over your computer for a few minutes, why would we not believe him.

Because we all know from experience that there is NEVER a helpful chap on the line when we call a big company.

There is always a telephone tree with confusing options, and then a 30 minute wait, and even then you rarely succeed in finding a real human being.
If a random “helpful chap” approaches me on the street, I get suspicious. And on an anonymous unsolicitated phone call, It is even more suspicious.

I agree — I think we’re describing complementary aspects of the same phenomenon.

Ever call a(mega-corp) support line/customer service? There’s NEVER someone free to take the call immediately. Let alone sitting around calling customers about problems on their computer/account, etc.

Plus, since when does a company call you to say a service has been auto-renewed and paid for and want you to cancel it so they can refund the money?

You know that and I know that but…

To quote George Carlin: “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

This is part of why the scammers target older people, and why older people are more likely to fall for the scam. For a lot of them, using the telephone is still a Big Deal. My mother is largely incapable of just hanging up on scam calls, because she has the ingrained attitude that hanging up on someone is extremely rude. For most of her life, phone calls were rare, and up until the 90s at least, quite expensive if it was long distance. Even after the last 20 years of scam calls becoming more frequent, she still can’t overcome the previous 50 years of habits.

Plus, it’s been a long, long time since she had to deal with the phone tree BS we see these days. Before he passed away, my Dad dealt with all of that, and since then, my sister or I have been dealing with it. So she really doesn’t know how unhelpful real companies are these days. She still remembers when, if you called a company, there was a real person to talk to you, so she doesn’t automatically question the “helpful” person who called her about her computer or credit card, because that’s what used to happen 30 years ago.

And the scammers all know this. It’s what they base their whole scheme on.

Dementia doesn’t help, either.

?? Telephone companies and banks and … were not helpful 30 years years ago. The were already notoriously unhelpful 60 years ago, and it wasn’t any better in the 1990’s.

And phone calls were ‘rare’? That leads me to wonder what country you are from? Phones were used much less in Australia in the 1970’s than they were in the USA at the same time, but even here, the difference would be that older people were more used to using the phone (and less used to using the internet).

Lets not forget the outsourcing of “customer support” overseas so customers became accustomed to foreign accents, poor knowledge and worse English while claiming to have Anglo names.

I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but it seems a handy resource for threads like this one:

WRT communication, I’m partial to meeting people where they are – talking with them in language that’s easily understood.

And once in a while, it’s just great for shits and giggles to choose a few delicacies from this list :wink:

Just the other day, MIL send a rather proud email about how she figured out that the guy calling from “Publisher’s Clearinghouse” was a scammer. She got pretty excited, but the guy kept pushing her to pay a fee to a tax specialist, about 4,000 dollars.
So she gamed him a bit. She said she didn’t have that much. “How much CAN you pay?” he asks. “I only have about 100 dollars”.

She kept him tied up for an hour or more. He had finally told her that they could manage with a fee of just 300 bucks.

In CVS gift cards.

Now, at least she’d long since figured it was a scam and was just playing along - and she did waste his time. But it was worrisome that she spent even 90 seconds on the phone with him.

For me that would not be worrisome at all. My father used to lead on actual phone solicitations for a half hour or so when those were common. We knew he wasn’t going to buy whatever they were selling, but he kept politely asking questions until he would finally tell them he was no interested. So staying on the phone a long time means he is having his fun.

Me, I never had the patience for that and simply hung up after the second try of saying I am not interested. I only once actually engaged a scammer for few minutes and with the result of being insulted when I told them I knew they were a scam. I didn’t care and I thought it was amusing, but not amusing enough to do it again. These days I hang up within the first 30 seconds or so of whatever spiel is being made.