Getting Scammed Has Its Benefits
On several occasions in the past, I have written stories about assorted investment cons and fraudulent deals that victimized churches, Christian investors, and small businesses.
The common denominator of such schemes was how many victims wanted to run and hide when they learned they had been duped. Even when thousands of dollars were involved, many didn’t want to pursue the crook.
I guess “can’t get blood out of a turnip” is one sound reason. The other: fear of embarrassment.
It’s not just churches that don’t go after former bookkeepers or others who embezzle funds, the same is true of small businesses.
I know the publisher of a small press who foresaw a time-consuming challenge trying to collect from the person who took him for a ride.
He chose to work out a long-term repayment plan rather than go through the headaches of a drawn-out court battle.
Recently, I developed a new-found sympathy for folks who find themselves victimized. I fell prey to scam artists lurking in the shadows of a well-known computer company.
In seeking to download software for a new printer I picked up when the old one died, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what I was doing.
So when someone who contacted me via the phony website offered to install the software, I thought maybe this was a new way of doing business.
Then the woman on the other end of the line told me they were having problems completing the installation because of intrusions on my home network. It could be resolved by purchasing a $300 security package, she said. Only then I did recognize I was dealing with scammers.
I quickly instructed my wife to change the password on our bank accounts (fortunately, no one struck before we could do that).
Then, I lost several hours doing the same thing I did last year when Equifax fumbled away private information for most of the nation. Namely, changing passwords for my email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et. al.
Then, within a matter of days, I got a notice from my ID theft protection insurer that Macy’s had discovered a data breach for customers of Macy’s and Bloomingdales.
The company tried to comfort the public with assurances it was a “small number” of customers. But the fact they have millions of customers didn’t reassure me. I was just glad we’re not Macy’s shoppers.
The Silver Lining
It’s hard to feel grateful for the aggravation, lost time, emotional drain, and expense of getting my hard drive cleaned.
Still, I found a few silver linings in the dark cloud of this situation.
- Don’t be quick to judge
I admit that I have wondered how others could make the mistake of investing handsome sums of money with “too good to be true” operators.
Yet, as someone who proved gullible in my recent miscue, I realized anew that we can all make innocent mistakes that only seem patently stupid in hindsight.
- Be prepared
I sometimes get the feeling that if all the scammers operating online, on telephones, and roaming neighborhoods, would simply put their efforts into honest endeavors, it could boost the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) another 1-2 percent.
Since that doesn’t appear likely to occur soon, forewarned is forearmed. As much as I don’t want to, I may need to make changing my passwords an ongoing practice.
- Cleansing can be good
While the computer shop backed up all my data, I lost many of my favorites in my web browser. I regained many while setting up new passwords, and slowly added others amid normal work.
Two things I’ve noticed—my favorites list has shrunk, and I don’t really miss those that are gone.
Guess I can thank those would-be thieves for their help.