Beware of “Can you hear me?” phone scam

Source: Article by Kathy Kristof of CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/beware-new-can-you-hear-me-scam/); accessed 31 January 2017.

The public are being warned about this latest phone scam, the “can you hear me” con. It is actually a variation on earlier scams aimed at getting the victim to say the word “yes” in a phone conversation. That affirmative response is recorded by the fraudster and used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or a stolen credit card. Once they have the recorded “yes,” they say that you have agreed to something.

So you may be asking how you can be charged if you don’t provide a payment method? The fraudster already has your phone number, and many phone providers pass through third-party charges. Additionally, the fraudster may already have some of your personal information such as a credit card number or utility bill (possibly as the result of a data breach). When you dispute the charge, they can say that they have your consent on a recorded call.

What can you do? Kathy’s article (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/beware-new-can-you-hear-me-scam/) suggests the following:

If you suspect you have already been victimized, check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. Call the billing company — whether your credit card company or your phone provider — and dispute anything that you didn’t authorize on purpose. If they say you have been recorded approving the charge and you have no recollection of that, ask for proof.

If you need help disputing an unauthorized credit card charge, contact the Federal Trade Commission. If the charge hit your phone bill, the Federal Communications Commission regulates phone bill “cramming.”

If you have not yet been victimized, the best way to avoid telemarketing calls from con artists is to sign up for a free blocking service or simply let calls from unfamiliar numbers go to your answering machine. Scammers rarely leave a message.

If you do answer a call from an unfamiliar number, be skeptical of strangers asking questions that would normally elicit a “yes” response. The question doesn’t have to be “can you hear me?” It could be “are you the lady of the house?”; “do you pay the household telephone bills?”; “are you the homeowner?”; or any number of similar yes/no questions. A reasonable response to any of these questions is: “Who are you, and why do you want to know?”

If the caller maintains they are with a government agency — Social Security, the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles or the court system — hang up immediately. Government officials communicate by mail, not phone (unless you initiate the call). Many con artists use the aegis of authority to convince you to keep talking. The longer you talk, the more likely you are to say something that will allow them to make you a victim.

Coping with Grief After a Loss

med-1044-depressionGrief is a reaction to a major loss. It can be triggered by the death of a loved one, but people can also experience grief if they have lost a job, experienced an end to a significant relationship, loss of personal property, an illness for which there is no cure, a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. It is most often an unhappy and painful emotion, but it is a normal process that each person must move through. It is not something you get over or can bypass.

Everyone feels grief in their own way. However, there are common stages to the process of grieving. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss.

Shock, denial, disbelief, numbness. When you learn that you have lost, or may lose, someone you love, you may find the news hard to accept. Common thoughts include, “This can’t be happening” or “There must be some mistake.” The feeling of disbelief gives yourself some emotional breathing room and protects you from the full effect of the news when you are not ready to accept it.

Anger, blaming others. After you have begun to accept a loss, you may feel very angry. You may blame others or the person who died for the situation even if you know, realistically, that they are not responsible for it. Or, you may let out your frustration by becoming irritated easily or unintentionally doing things that hurt others. All of these feelings are normal. Anger can be a way of hiding your pain when you can’t or don’t know how to express your real feelings.

Bargaining and guilt. Even if you know there is little or no hope for a recovery, you may tell yourself you can do something to solve the problem. You may try to make a deal with the doctors, God, or yourself, promising to make changes if the situation will go away. You may have thoughts like, “I’ll never become angry with my partner or child again if only the cancer goes away.” It’s normal to go over past actions and think, “If only I had done this . . .” Many people also feel a sense of guilt or responsibility that fosters the belief that they can still or should have somehow changed things.

Depressed mood, sadness, and crying. At some point, you will feel the full impact of the loss, and begin to understand what it will mean to go through life without someone you love or whatever you may have lost. At this stage, you may feel very sad and perhaps allow yourself to cry for the first time. Feelings like these usually mean that you are closer to the end of the grief process.

Acceptance, coming to terms. At the final stage of grief, you accept your loss even though you still don’t like this fact. You forgive yourself and others and, perhaps for the first time, may feel a sense of peace about the loss. You may still feel sad, but you have stopped trying to fight reality. You may be able to clean out the room of the person who died or participate again in some of the activities you enjoyed together. At this stage, people often think about trying to find an enduring way to pay tribute to the life of someone who has died.

People’s responses to grief will be different, depending on the circumstances of the event that is causing the grief symptoms. Not everyone goes through all of the stages of grief, or experiences them in the same order and you may also go through a stage more than once. At some point you may think you have moved beyond depression, but you may feel sad again on a holiday or an anniversary. Or, you may get angry when you have to handle alone the everyday difficulties that you used share. Experiences like these are normal.

The grief process can’t be rushed and shouldn’t be. It’s important to let yourself feel the pain and most people find that over time the intensity of the pain will decrease. Even if one denies their pain of a loss, the grief still exists. If it does not affect them at this moment, it will eventually erupt in some way, maybe at an inappropriate moment or during another traumatic event. Most professionals suggest that it is always better to admit our strong feelings about a situation, to feel them, and to move through the grieving process in order to move beyond the event.

It is important to know that grieving is an important, normal, and healthy response to loss. If you feel overwhelmed or very sad for much longer than other people in similar situations, or if you continue to have trouble eating, sleeping, or enjoying life, you may want to talk with a therapist, social worker, or chaplain.

Single Airmen / Dorm Residents Event – 24 December

happiestxmasThe Adult Military & Family Life Counselor has organized a Game/Movie day for all single Airmen and/or dorm residents with the support of the Airman & Family Readiness Center.

It will take place at the Dining Facility on Christmas Eve from 1:30 – 4:00 PM.

 

 

Games available will include:

  • Jenga
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Dominoes
  • Monopoly
  • Checkers
  • Cards
  • Sorry
  • Scategories
  • Pictionary

 

 

Resource for VA Benefits Information

Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. These benefits are codified in Title 38 of the United States Code.

For years the VA has printed benefit booklets and distributed them to the bases for Transition Workshops. Within the last couple of years they have stopped providing the booklets, but you can download the current print version online.

2016_federal_benefits_for_veterans_coverThis booklet contains a summary of these benefits. Click on the image at left to download a PDF copy of the 2016 version of the Federal Benefits for Veterans Dependents and Survivors. You can also view the online version by going to http://www1.va.gov/OPA/publications/benefits_book.asp.

For additional information, visit www.va.gov.