With scamsters vishing, it pays to be paranoid

Ideas

With scamsters vishing, it pays to be paranoid

Vishing — fraud committed via voice, specifically a phone call — is particularly rife at the moment

Consumer journalist

The timing was not good. My daughter, who’s just completed her degree and is about to move out of her private res, informed me that the microwave in her unit had stopped working. I shot off a series of Whatsapps. Tell the management about it, as soon as possible. How old is the microwave? Is it still under warranty? If you didn’t do anything negligent, you’re not liable and they can’t deduct a wear-and-tear issue from the deposit. 

A short while later she forwarded me the message the manager had sent her: “Will ask (the resident handyman) to attend to it. You won’t be held responsible.” Followed by hug and flower emoticons. I felt both relieved and silly. That’s what decades of doing this job has done to me — I’m primed to expect the worst because that’s what I deal with daily on behalf of consumers. 

Mind you, expecting the worst has saved me from a bad situation more than once. A couple of months ago I was the target of the e-mail hacking scam. I was due to make a payment to a firm of attorneys, when I got an e-mail from the woman I’d been liaising with, supplying the firm’s bank account details. I’ve interviewed too many traumatised people who’ve lost money to this scam not to be paranoid. So I called the woman (from the number saved in my phone, not the one in the e-mail) to ask whether she’d sent the e-mail. No, she hadn’t; and she was mortified...

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