It all began about a month ago. I was at work, minding my own business, when suddenly, I began receiving phone calls and emails regarding an auto insurance quote that I had – allegedly – requested. I do not drive a 2008 Honda Accord, and I do not drive a Ford Expedition, although these are the cars that I was getting my free quotes for. And my name, address, phone number, and email address were all correct on these requests (creepy). The only thing wrong was that I am not definitely a 43 year old male. Initially I was really freaked out: who had my information, and why were they trying to use it? And why would someone even want to try to attain a policy under someone else’s name and address? They wouldn’t even ever be able to get the documents. I don’t understand how this is even a good scam. So, I answered each phone call telling the insurance companies to remove me from their lists and to kindly verify that no new policies were being created fraudulently in my name. To be safe, I signed up with AllClearID and put in a 90-day identity theft alert with all three credit unions to prevent any new credit lines from being created in my name. I thought the nuisance of this whole thing was over.
Then, a few weeks ago, I started getting phone calls from “unknown” or “no caller ID” numbers. And then some other numbers, like 516 899 8888, which when you call back is not a real phone number. I answer each time, determined to outsmart these scammers. First, they started by telling me, “I work for Microsoft and we are receiving reports that your firewalls are down… please verify this information,” at which point they read me my name and address. I refuse to verify any information with them. Then, sometimes, I pick up and there is no answer on the other line. Sometimes I hear strange background noises or conversations, sounding like a call center.
Then, the real doozies. I got a phone call from that “no caller ID” number: a man with a heavy Indian accent who claimed that his name is Adam Smith, because that’s believable. Yes, Adam Smith of the United States government, calling to tell me that – “believe it or not!” – I had been chosen to receive a grant as a reward for being a good citizen and taxpayer. He just needed to verify all of my personal information. When I asked Adam Smith why the United States government wouldn’t just mail my $8,300 “surprise grant” to my home, where they mail all of my important documents, he assured me that the United States government just needed to be sure I still lived there. When I asked Adam Smith why the United States government would call me from a blocked number, he assured me that this was standard United States government procedure. When I told Adam Smith that the police and credit unions have been notified of this ridiculousness, Adam Smith hung up.
And just now, 516 899 8888 called me again, sounding an awful lot like Adam Smith, but this time going by George Robinson… they’re getting a little bit more creative. This time he was calling me from Partners of Microsoft, again with the firewall thing, asking me to log onto my computer – I’m sure eventually to have me download an identity stealing software or something equally scammy. When I asked George Robinson if he knew Adam Smith, he giggled his gentle Indian giggle, but continued to insist that he was legit. He read off my home address, and asked me to confirm it, which I refused to do. When I asked George Robinson for a business phone number to contact Microsoft at to verify his claims, he stated that he was not allowed to give this information out. When I asked George Robinson why he would ask for my home address and personal information, but not be able to give me a business phone number, he didn’t really answer. And then, my favorite: When I asked George Robinson who his supervisor or boss was, he replied, “Bill Gates.” You can’t make this shit up. Needless to say, I eventually wound up yelling at him to remove my name and information from his scam list because clearly I am not going to give them anything, and hung up. While I hate George Robinson and Adam Smith deeply, some small part of me is looking forward to the next absolutely ridiculous idea that they come up with. Maybe Donald Trump will call me to tell me that I’ve landed a billion dollar job and all he needs is my social security number and signature on a blank check. Sadly, I don’t think it’s over, yet. But at least there is a silver lining of humor in their overwhelming and mind-boggling stupidity.