John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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You Remember That Scam? It's Still a Scam.

I have an old AOL account, my oldest contiguous "presence" online ... I had Compuserve and Prodigy accounts at around the same time as I started the AOL account, but eventually discarded them. I gave my parents access to one of the screen names on it, and now more or less keep it to subsidize their net access. (Among other reasons, as most people who try to call me on the phone know, I infinitely prefer e-mail or other text-based communication if I have a choice in the matter.)

My parents are relatively tech-savvy; my mom in particular was a computer programmer for something like 45 years, so they're not prone to "What does the magic box do?" type queries that some of their contemporaries might.

However, my parents have a quality which, while endearing in theory, is very frustrating in practice: unless presented with egregious evidence that something is a lie, they are entirely too inclined to believe it's true.

It's not a factor of age, they've always been this way as far as I can remember, although it may be a factor of generation. Among other things, it means they keep making disastrous political choices, but I won't go very far into that. Let's just say that when given an assurance by a politician, they fall for it.

So every few months I get an e-mail from my mom:

Got this today: what should I do about it? Love, Ma

Warning! Your AOL account is about to be CANCELLED!
Your credit card infomaton is out of date and for
security reason you MUST click here
within 48 hours or you will lose your internt

It's not always AOL; sometimes it's Paypal, occasionally it'll be eBay. Note that my parents have never used Paypal or eBay, and when I ask my mom how it could possibly be a harm if a nonexistant account is cancelled, she replies, "Well, I might want to use eBay sometime..."

The first several times, I explained that these were phishing scams, so totally not sent by eBay (or Paypal or AOL or anybody who's not a crook), that reputable companies would not include hyperlinks in the e-mail, and particularly in the case of AOL, billing queries if they existed would only go to my screen name anyway, on the grounds that it's my credit card they suck on.

For a while, she seems to get the message ... except that after a few months, she just seems to forget. Apparently worried, "Well what if this one really is from AOL?" she forwards it on to me and I have to send back the obligatory, "It's a scam, delete the message."

It's not really that much of a nuisance, but I do worry about them getting something from, say, a fake version of their insurance carrier, or some other group that they deal with, which they'll just click on without consulting me about, and getting burned. They've got enough to deal with, they don't need that happening.

-The Gneech
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