Don’t be afraid to be rude to scammers

I had a senior citizen tell me recently that she knows there are people out there who want to take advantage of her. But she is uncomfortable hanging up on someone or shutting the door in someone’s face. She did not want to seem mean or impolite.


One of the draws to living in the South is our Southern hospitality. We take immense pride in showing our polite and respectful virtues. Unfortunately, scammers are all too aware of this. Scammers will jump at the chance to take advantage. So remember: It is always OK when dealing with a potential scammer to just hang up the phone.

Below are three common situations in which you should never feel guilty interrupting a scammer.

1. An unknown caller is seeking personal information.

If you receive an phone call from someone seeking your personal or financial information, do not give it to them. Even if they are claiming to be from a government agency, most commonly the IRS or FBI.

Hang up and find a legitimate number for the company or agency that has supposedly called you. Call them directly to verify they are trying to get in touch with you. This could be your bank, your phone company, your credit card company, your Internet service provider, or even a collection agency. If you have an account with any business that calls you, look directly on your statement or on the back of your card for a legitimate number.

2. The caller is threatening you.

If you feel like you are being threatened or harassed, hang up. Government agencies never will conduct themselves in this manner and they will not threaten to arrest you. Yes, some collection agencies and businesses that are seeking to receive payment on a late account may be aggressive.

If you know you are current on the account being called about, hang up and call the creditor directly. If you are unsure if you owe an outstanding balance it is best to request they send you something in writing, hang up and contact the business directly.

3. Anyone who is asking, claiming or demanding that you send money now.

Do not wire money! If a caller demands this form of payment, hang up. This is a sure sign of a scam. This also applies to prepaid money cards and gift cards.

Some calls may be claiming that, instead of you owing a bill, you won a lottery, a prize or a sweepstakes. They will use many of the same approaches. Remember it should never cost you a fee to win a prize.

I always remind consumers that you own your telephone and your door. No one should make you feel like you don’t have the power to hang up the phone, close the door .

Is it rude? If you were standing on a street corner and someone was picking your pocket, would you stop them and save your money, or be too concerned with being rude The same logic should apply to someone using your telephone or door to “pick” your bank account.

Kelvin Collins is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia &the CSRA Inc. For questions or complaints about a company, call (800) 763-4222.