In case you are sleeping under a rock like I was and are not aware of all of the ways people will rip you off, here’s just one example of how it works. Reminder, this is just one example!!!
I happen to have been traveling for the holidays. I was away from home and I thought that I had taken care of all that I needed to take care of to have a safe and enjoyable couple of weeks away. I just didn’t remember to take my effing brains with me! If it sounds as if I’m beating myself up…well…I am! That’s part of the feeling of violation that an event like this left with me. I knew better! Revealing this drama is incredibly vulnerable for me and I’m doing it solely to help another human being either be aware of others in this predicament or to at least feel like they have some company.
Now, the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say!
I had been in the security field before I retired. Not cyber security, but close enough to know that there are some really deceptive people in the world whose function it seems to be to separate both the suspecting and the unsuspecting from their valuables and or belongings…and much of their self-respect as well.
If you’ve never been Spoofed, here’s how it can happen. Spoofing is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
“Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. This can lead to a caller ID display showing a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed.”
Caller ID Spoofing
Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to…
What this spoof looked like in my case was a telephone call from what appeared to be my financial institution. The caller was using the customer service number from my bank so I did not recognize it as a scammer. I thought it was my bank.
The scammer then proceeded to tell me that my account had been compromised and how important my account security was to this bank. Sounds good right? Okay, now I know many of you are probably saying to yourself, I would have hung up right there. Well I wish I had. In fact, I wish I had never answered the call in the first place and I wouldn’t have if I had not recognized the number as that of my financial institution. That’s part of the “Caller ID Spoofing.” I was familiar with “Email Spoofing” and I judged that it was a bit simpler to detect. But that is just me trying to protect my idiocy.
Wait, don’t laugh yet, it gets better! If any of you have ever gotten your identity stolen you know what a pain in the ass that is. I once had someone steal my social security number and file a false tax return. I didn’t find out until I filed mine and the IRS denied it. It took me eight months to get that straightened out. At least in that case I didn’t loose any money…only some time. The point I’m making here is that having my identity stolen caused me to be super cautious when it came to my personal information. Well, that’s what I thought.
I feel so foolish because I let my guard down. I was having a great vacation and when the phone rang I recognized the customer service number of my bank and that is what caused me to answer. Then the fear of having my account compromised in a different way allowed me to be fooled.
So to assuage the intense anxiety and utter embarrassment of this moment, I decided to write this piece for anyone who might be a) unaware of this kind of activity, b) might need the reminder, c) needs a real hearty laugh, or d) would like to help me recover from the incredible stupidity of this moment.
Here’s what I would’ve done differently: 1) Not answer since the call was from an unknown source. My bank never calls me. 2) Make myself more familiar with cyber security issues and techniques because in this day and age one never knows when they will be targeted. 3) If I do get a call from an institution I am doing business with, hang up, and call the institution for verification before I answer any further questions.
This one event has set me back quite a bit financially AND it also serves as a wake up call for many other aspects of my life. Primarily, in the old days (before my emotional transformation) I would have freaked, gotten really angry at myself and perhaps even become destructive. But I have committed to living a different life and in that view I am choosing to change a negative into a positive. Did I learn a valuable and expensive lesson? Yes! Did it hurt? Yes! Will I allow it to defeat the progress I have made over the last 5 years in dealing with emotional issues? No!
I realize that I am human, frail, and often weak in so many ways. I also know that I am human, strong, and powerful if I choose to be. And in this moment, I choose to love myself knowing that there is something good that will come as a result of growing into the man I want to be. Money can be replaced, the relationship that I have with myself and others is as short as this life and those moments I invest here on this planet are more valuable than one incident of material loss.
Here’s hoping that you will learn with me even at my expense!
Blessings to all of you!