What responsibility do we have to protect our seniors from exploitation from telephone scammers? Scammers are using every technology available to them, but telephone service providers seem to be falling behind on supporting some of their most vulnerable clients.
New communication technologies have rewoven the way we connect with each other, but have also opened the door for new kinds of abuse.
Over the last months I’ve been trying to help some friends navigate a nightmarish situation with their telephones. This is a couple in their mid-90s who are still living in their home, helping each other navigate life’s joys and challenges.
But now the peace and calm that they should be enjoying is being disrupted by constant harassing phone calls.
Telephone scammers have found their number and started calling up to 100 times a day. The calls would literally stream together, and it seemed like the phone line may have been hacked, as it was impossible to disengage the call by simply hitting the disconnect button. The only way to get silence was to unplug the main phone line, which can be a safety issue for seniors
The service provider first said there was nothing they could do, as the calls were coming from outside of Canada. Then they said the only way to block the calls would be to follow this process:
- Respond to the call (ie click on the Talk button)
- Wait 5 seconds
- Hang up
- Immediately reactivate the line
- Dial the following: # 60 # 01 #
This might sound workable, until we accept the fact that scammers can now create a huge number of telephone numbers digitally at very little to no cost.
I’m left feeling like the telephone companies have abandoned a very vulnerable segment of our society. Seniors are sometimes lured into conversations because they grew up in a time when the telephone was a community building technology; and they may sometimes just feel lonely, so they are easier prey for the new generation of digital pirates.
Please let me know if you come across anyone who has solved this issue!
Here are some links to media and resources:
“In 2012, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 2,815 Jamaican lottery/prize complaints. 343 are classified as victims with total reported dollar losses in the excess of $2 million dollars”:
Jamaica task force arrests 10 people on suspicion of involvement in lottery scam rings:
Authorities in US, Jamaica team up to tackle persistent phone scam:
US Senator warns people to “”Beware of the 876 Jamaican Phone Scam”:
Website designed to help warn people about the 876 scams: