’21 A To Z Challenge – C

(The un-named) They say that curiosity killed the cat, but I say that some curiosity, mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism, and cynicism, can prevent you from becoming a manipulator’s cat’s-paw.

I once worked as a Purchasing Agent for a Bernie Madoff-wannabe owner of a small business – a little metal stamping shop with 25 plant employees.  He apparently had dreams of more and larger automotive contracts, a bigger plant, and 250 employees – or 2500…. Or 25,000!  😯

He had loyalty and honesty only for himself and his company, and no commercial morality.  Management staff were told not to ever allow any barricades to his business – “over, under, through or around.  Don’t come to me with problems!  Come to me with solutions.  Rules are for fools.”

I hired a young man in his early 20s, as a Production Control Clerk.  He was getting married, and he asked the company President for a mere two days off, for an abbreviated honeymoon.  The boss gave him an extended lecture about how he should not even get married.  He should reserve his time and energy for the company.

The Boss was on his second wife.  I don’t know why they bothered to marry – social propriety??!  He put in 12-hour weekdays, often 8-hour Saturdays, and sometimes came in on Sunday.  I don’t know if they ever dined together.  She was a Middle Manager, putting in lots of hours herself, and had girlfriends and hobbies.  He had…. the company – and a disturbing habit of drinking in his office at the end of workday.  He often chivvied me and other staff to remain and keep him and his booze company.  😦

Back in 1982, debit cards didn’t exist, and credit cards weren’t common.  One day he asked me if I had a credit card.  I answered, yes.  “Well, you should get yourself another one.”  Why??!  “So that, when I tell you to buy something for the company, you can keep the charges separate.”

He was already paying 30-day invoices at 120 days.  He expected me to use a personal card to purchase company supplies??!  What assurance was there that I would ever be reimbursed?  I quietly declined to get sucked in.

One day, he wisely decided to computerize the entire office system. (Yes, there was a time when computers weren’t everywhere.)  He hired a tech-nerd who could do the job.  Coincidentally, the guy just happened to have experience in the Purchasing field.

He interrogated other office staff, but, for three weeks he spent a lot of time with me, finding how I had set up my process.  Finally, the boss came to me and said, “Business is slow right now.  You’ve got your paperwork well-organized.  If I give him some assistance, Roscoe and I can handle it.  I’m scheduling your hours to zero for now.  You don’t need to come in.

I never even got fired.  He just stopped paying me.  Losing any job and its income can be quite traumatic, but I was actually (eventually) happy not to be employed at this one, when the police, or the bankruptcy bailiffs, showed up.  Rules are for fools eventually killed him, when he violated flight regulations and splashed a rented 4-seater all over a friend’s pasture.

WOW #47

Telephone

The Word Of this Week is a word that we all know – or should; it’s

Phishing

Phishing Trip

Ring……..ring……..ring……..
Son – Hello
……..(one second……..(two seconds)……..(three seconds)……..(four seconds) click
(Boiler room – 50 voices in background)
Strike one!
Paki – Hellooo….is this Mr. J. Smith?
Phone is in the wife’s name – Mrs. J. Smith
Strike two!
Son – Yes
Paki – This is the security Department of Visa (Sure it is 😛 )
There are three credit cards in the house, and they are all MasterCards
Strike Three!
Paki – There has been suspicious activity on your Visa card. A few minutes ago, there was a $600 transfer to Western Union. That is often a sign of online fraud. Did you make that transfer?
Son – What are the last four digits you have on that card?
……..Click Yerrr Out!

Sorry! The suckers aren’t biting today – and tell your cousin, the Prince of Nigeria, to stop sending us those get-rich-quick emails.

Remember, folks – TANSTAAFLThere Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – and there’s always someone ready to try to take away a lunch that you’ve already paid for.

Be alert!!
We need all the Lerts we can get. 😉

You’ve been selected to receive money – Sure you have

You’ve won a prize – in a contest you don’t remember entering

Buy a ticket for this foreign lottery – they just change your dollars to rials before they steal them

You’ll get a bonus or gift if you buy now – see TANSTAAFL

They aggressively claim that you owe money on your taxes – no civilized country’s tax department would approach you in this way, or demand payment in prepaid iTunes cards 🙄

The phone rings once, then hangs up – if you have call-display, do not call an unfamiliar number back. It will direct you to a pay-per-minute site

They say that you’ve been the victim of a fraud (see above) – they’re just after your banking information

They offer to fix your computer – they will download all your financial information

They’re selling an extended warranty on your car – talk to your dealer, face-to-face, rather than some unknown on the phone

They won’t answer your questions (see above) – don’t let them deflect or refuse. They have all the answers…. until you ask an inconvenient question

They’re collecting for a charity you’ve never heard of – then why would you donate?? Real charities don’t demand your credit card number over the phone.

They threaten to have you arrested – There are laws which prevent governments and organizations – even collection agencies – from doing this. Just hang up

They want personal information, like Social Security numbers – for identity theft and fraud. If they called you, never give it out.

They’re collecting a debt you don’t remember – you have the right to a mailed copy of any claim. Demand one!

They claim to have kidnapped someone you know – Some scammers now use social media to find the names and whereabouts of your friends and family members, and use that information to impersonate kidnappers and demand ransom money. It may sound terrifying, but it’s most often fake. Definitely don’t pay them anything. Instead, contact your friend or relative immediately, and report the call to the FTC/CRTC or the police.

They want you to invest in something – Unless it’s someone you know, they get no dough!

They just want to confirm your debit or credit card number – this is the fastest way to get defrauded

They want you to make an immediate decision – even if it’s something you want, pressure = fraud. Hang up and do your own research.

The call looks like it’s coming from your own phone – hackers claim that they’re from the phone company, and just want you to verify those magic numbers. Don’t do it!

They’re too friendly – It’s nice to talk to nice people….until they steal you blind. Beware of unknown callers who seem really, Really friendly.

It’s a jungle out there. Keep your eyes on your fries – and your wallet, and online data. 😳

Pros And Cons

There have always been ways to separate the gullible from their money, but the internet has provided the pros with a method to practice their cons, quicker, easier, more anonymously, and over a much wider scope.

I resentfully awoke the other day, 2 hours before my much-needed beauty sleep normally ended, to a ringing telephone.  Sullenly answering it, I was assailed by a too-perky, recorded female voice informing me that her corporation was aware that I was paying too high an interest rate on my credit card (How?), and this was my last chance….Yadda, Yadda, Yadda!  Bottom line – pay money.

At the end of the recording, the voice said, “If you no longer wish to receive these notifications, press 2 now.”  If this was my last chance, why do I continue to receive 2 or 3 of these calls every week?  And you can push that number 2 till it falls off the phone, the wife has stabbed it dozens of times, yet the calls persist.

We used to get about the same number of calls from some Paki, who told us that he was from Microsoft, and they had noticed that we had problems with our computer (again, how?!  hundreds of millions of computers, and you noticed a problem, on mine?).  Even many users with MSN.com as their home page, didn’t recognize a Microsoft connection.

Perhaps Microsoft threatened legal action of some sort.  Now they tell you that they are from “the Word Program Department,” and if you’ll just perform their electronic voodoo, and let them take over your computer, they’ll fix it all better – right after they empty your bank accounts and max out your credit cards.

When the wife has the time and patience, she lets them babble their spiel, and then acts all confused, “because we only have Macs in the house, and we don’t use a Word program on them.”

Despite the Do Not Call List, which they can’t read in Pakistan, we continue to get calls for various duct-cleaning services.  The disabled daughter lives in a one-floor housing unit with no basement.  She recently told us how she stopped all these calls.  Quite truthfully, she told them all that her unit is heated with electric baseboard heaters – no ducts!  The wife had a chance to use that line on Sunday morning.  Feel free to try it yourself.

While I was out running a few errands the other day, the doorbell rang.  Since the wife wasn’t feeling well, she didn’t go downstairs to answer it.  When I returned home, there was a brightly-printed flyer hanging from the mailbox.  It was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Apparently, if they don’t get the chance to personally beat you with a copy of The Watchtower, like a dog shitting on your lawn, they leave this crap behind.

Even worse, when I more closely examined it, I found that they have their own website, JW.com, and a QR code printed on the corner of the sheet.  You can find everything you wanted to know about the Jovies by scanning this with your Smartphone.  I learned everything I wanted to know about them from the fact that they come around, uninvited and unwanted, disturb your life, and leave shit behind.  These Children of God have become Children of the Information Age.  Thanx Internet.  😦

Early on an autumn Sunday afternoon, the doorbell rang.  Cracking the front door so that a yapping dog wouldn’t leak out, I saw a clean-looking, 20ish male, dressed in (a uniform?) a light-blue, long-sleeved cotton shirt, dark blue, neatly-creased slacks, with a black nylon lanyard around his neck.  He held up a laminated plastic ID with his picture and name (maybe), but no corporation name.

What I have to believe was a fine line of bullshit, was beautifully crafted.  “I’m from the Home Inspection Department, (Of what company, or Government level?) I’m here to check the integrity of your house. (What integrity?)  I’ll just leave my shoes out here”….and actually looked puzzled, as I closed the door on him.  Phone me, or email me, or even write me, and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time.

Who comes around, unannounced, and unidentified, on a Sunday?  And yet, he and his patter looked and sounded so good, that I’m sure many home-owners unquestioningly opened their houses to him – and then later, wondered where the laptop or the jewelry went to.  I suppose I should have reported him to the Fraud Squad, even tried to get a picture of him, but I am not my neighbor’s keeper.  Caveat Emptor!