Here is a link to a cautionary tale from Morningstar this morning. While this predator was engaging with a developmentally disabled adult, we all need to be aware that these folks are out there knocking on our elders' door as well.

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For the phone scammers:  there's not much you can do for the robo calls except report them and put your name on the Do Not Call list.

But I've found that toll free numbers often had a live solicitor.   You can have some fun with them.  I can't take credit for all these suggestions; we're discussing this on another forum and sharing some good ideas.

1.    Tell them to hold just a moment while you (a) conference in the local police, FBI, or other governmental agency so that you don't have to make a separate call to report the scam call  (b) connect your recording system so you can record the call and report it to law enforcement officials.

2.   Same, except just leave them on hold, or blow a whistle, play loud music, scream, or whatever.  My favorite is still to be implemented: I want to check out Army Navy Surplus stores and get an air horn like those on submarines.   Keep a pair of ear protectors near the phone for your own ear protection if you go this route.

3.   Let them ramble on, then suddenly discover a fire or other emergency that you have to address.   So far I've had a fake flood and fire.    That really stresses them, as they'll push to get permission to call you back.  

4.   One of the best was by a former poster.  She gave the handset to her mother who had dementia.    Her mother gave the scammer a good workout.  

5.   If you have a dog, especially a large one, record its bark, keep a recorder near the phone and play back the barking, at max volume.

6.   Pretend you're crazy, wandering all over in conversations so that nothing makes sense.  

For those annoying HGTV house flipper wannabees:

I told one that in order to consider his flipping offer, I needed certain information first:

a.    I wanted copies of Dun & Bradstreet (financial reports) for the company he (allegedly) worked for, for the last 5 years.

b.    I wanted lists of houses, dates, prices for houses they purchased, how they "rehabbed" them, and what they sold for.

I knew I didn't have to go any farther than that.  No spammer is going to provide a financial report on his illegitimate outfit.

Needless to say, the same guy called again, didn't remember having called, so I embarrassed him by telling him that someone who couldn't remember instructions wasn't qualified to discuss purchasing my house.   Poor guy - he was embarrassed and hung up.   I haven't heard from that scam outfit since.  

But he could still probably get a job doing something legal, so I didn't feel too sorry for him. 

Sometimes this can be fun.

Barb, thanks for that article.   It's always a good reminder, especially since this isn't the first time I've read of financial people engaging in door to door solicitation.   My parents were accosted by one down in Texas during their winter sojourn.  These predators prowl the RV parks looking for vulnerable seniors.

One aspect of the article's author's story is one what I would offer isn't advisable, and only prolongs the interaction as well as possibly providing information that should not be shared.   And that's to engage in ANY kind of discussion or (and especially) explanation.   No solicitor is entitled to that level of courtesy.

What it does is ENCOURAGE the solicitor b/c the homeowner is being put in a position of explaining HERSELF, so the solicitor already has the upper hand and is in more control of the situation.

This is also a situation in which I would suggest that using strong language could be appropriate, language such as "leave now!"   You don't owe any courtesy to these invaders. 

Years ago I put a sign on my front door; it remains there today.  It states, in large letters:

"Absolutely NO  political, religious, pizza, windows, siding, construction, lawn or other solicitors."  

It's been on my door for over a decade.   A few other neighbors now put up signs on their doors as well, ranging from "NOT INTERESTED!!" to sweet, delicate signs such as "we're sleeping; please don't wake us up."

The only ones who've ignored it were from the electrical company and they definitely were solicitors.   So I just shut the door on them after telling them to get off my property.

If it weren't for the postal delivery, I'd put up wreaths on my porch as I did for years.  One year a robin nested in one and chased away visitors, including the post man, who refused to deliver any more mail to me.   I had to go out, meet the mail truck and collect my mail that way until the babies had flown away.

I think I posted somewhere here that the last time some religious nuts came and ignored the sign, I got their license plate number and reported to the police that there was a suspicious car parked on the street and two people appearing to be staking out houses.

There's another very relevant issues raised by the article's author, as to how information is being released and/or shared.  Think:  SOCIAL MEDIA. 

There's an excellent but very unsettling if not frightening PBS special on the extent of invasiveness of privacy by tech companies here, and by the government of China on its own citizens.   

I was shocked by the fact that they've literally moved well past a future scenario in which citizens are monitored; that's here NOW.

Hint:   it appears as though ALL citizens in public spaces are being monitored and coded; some bar codes are being placed on home to monitor when family members come and go.  To my knowledge, people aren't yet being micro chip I'D'ed though, at least not yet.

The special is Frontline:   In the Age of AI (Artificial Intelligence),

The transcript is at:

Check your PBS stations; it's best to watch it, at least a few times, as it's overwhelming, especially the section on monitoring and coding of Chinese people.  

And for those of you who post on Facebook, Twitter or other media sites, do you really have any idea how the information you volunteer can really be used?

Barb, thanks for the article. It was a good read.

We pretty much have to hide in our house from door-to-door salespeople. If the doorbell rings and I don't see a car in the driveway, I won't answer the door.

The ones I really dislike for myself are when I am at work and sig other answers the front door. The salesperson sees a senior gentlemen [we are in our 70's] so the salesperson will use the tactic of saying "your wife order us to install a new fence" or whatever house repair. Like no, never, nada.

Verizon has a system if they know there is a scam call, it only rings once at the house. So many spoofed numbers. For awhile I had people calling me returning my call... a call I never made as my number was spoofed. Even telephone numbers for charities have been spoofed. Also found NOMOROBO spoofed.

I just started getting a social security scam over the telephone. I am so sick of blocking numbers and they just call back on a different number. We really can’t answer the phone anymore if we don’t know the number. If it’s important they will leave a message.

Of course the scammers leave messages too. So sad that people get scammed!

That’s awful. Some people still open their door to strangers. Very sad.

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