IT IS NO SECRET THAT victims of phone scams are not limited to the elderly or those with lower socio-economic status. In 2016, there were 132 cases of phone scams involving students of tertiary institutions, with a total loss of $16 million.
There appears to be no letting up of the concerted villainy of modern technology and old-time confidence tricks. In the first quarter of 2017, 26 college students picked up the phone and got jinxed. What usually transpires is someone purportedly from a government authority, bank or courier company calls to say that the receiver has committed a breach of the law and money is needed to keep him/her out of trouble. There might be local variations of theme and character but the master plot is there for all to see. Why do people still fall for the hoax?
The poet Yu Kwang-chung once wrote about the modern bane of telephony. We live in a world ubiquitously connected by telephone lines and one poor soul would torment and drive another crazy with the shrills and shrieks of the ring-tone. The poet has a point there. Given its rightful place along the ear which leads directly into our brain, the cell phone is indeed a very private device which grants another direct access to our soul. No referral or intermediary is needed. Once the connection is made, we tend to put our guards down and are prone to heed and concede.
If direct marketing is counted in the equation, one may get more calls from strangers than acquaintance. The chance of ceding valuable assets like time and money to people not worthy is great. To minimize any potential loss or inconvenience, any call should be vetted with first the eye and then the ear. If you see a strange caller ID or no ID at all, do not answer. If you hear a beep or recorded message (the so-called robocall), hang up.
This article was originally published in No. 504, Newsletter in Oct 2017.