I find myself at the bizarre confluence of age and circumstance. My age is old and the circumstance is scammers are incredibly fond of targeting people my age and older.

Damnable, scum-sucking cyber bullies, these. Spending their days in their concerted effort to separate aging Americans from their money.

Does this sound familiar? The man on the phone tells you a flaw has been found in your “Windows computer.” You owe money to the IRS. Your grandson is in trouble and needs money. Or here’s a funky one. The scum-sucking damnable cyber bully is proud to let you know you won a sweepstakes. All you have to do is send him X amount of money on a variable-amount gift card, and they’ll send you much more money back.

(And if you believe that, there’s a large, old bridge across the Hudson River for sale. Cheap.)

Yes sir, the damnable scum-sucking scammers will scare the bejeepers out of you, and then offer an out. Just go to your local store, and get an Apple, Amazon, GooglePay or other variable-amount gift card, put the max amount on said card, tell the damnable scum-sucking scammer the code on the back of said card, and presto! Problem solved!

Gift cards are their preferred method of remittance, because they’re almost impossible to trace. Once you tell the card number or code to the scammer, your money is theirs and your chances of getting it back are slim to none at all. A good to great rule of thumb in regard to gift cards is this: If you’re buying Apple products or services, an Apple card is a great thing. If the supposed representative of the IRS or the power company calls and demands payment in gift cards – well — you pay legit businesses and agencies with money, not gift cards. In other words, legit businesses that aren’t Amazon and Apple have little to no use for Amazon or Apple gift cards.

Yes, I am indeed at the bizarre confluence of age and circumstance. My age is old and my circumstance is that in my role as a mere retail clerk, I’m your last line of defense against these damnable scum-sucking, cyber-bullying scammers. You’re scared. Someone posing as your child or other family member has called, saying they’re in desperate trouble and need money. A representative of a government agency called to warn if you didn’t pay your past-due bills immediately, the constabulary will be notified.

Constabulary? Really? Not the police? (If I had a smidge of musical talent, I’d form a band that exclusively covers songs of Sting and the boys, and we’d call our band, (you guessed it,) The Constabulary. Sometimes I’m so danged clever, I scare myself.) Spoiler alert: If they use words like, “constabulary,” it’s a red flag. In India, they refer to the police as the constabulary.

Actually, I don’t know who I’m more peeved with: The scum sucking damnable scammers or the aging Americans who dang it all, sometimes seem in a mighty big hurry to get themselves scammed. For you see, I find myself at the bizarre confluence of age and circumstance. My age is old, my circumstance is that I work in a retail store, and people my age and older often fight with me when I tell them they’re probably being scammed. They’ll believe the stranger on the phone, who called out of the blue to scare them into thinking they owe money to the IRS or their family member is in danger, but they won’t believe people who deal with this crap on a daily basis.

Yes indeed. I find myself at the bizarre confluence of age and circumstance. My age is old and my circumstance is it just plain angers me that people my age are the target of these scams. Scammers play on strong emotions. Most notably, fear. Your fear of an auto breakdown, the fear of the IRS, and so on. They count on your ignorance of technology, and the best way to thwart them is twofold. First don’t be ignorant of technology, and most importantly, if it sounds fishy, hang up the damned phone. Or better, if you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer the phone in the first place. Either way works.

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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