There’s a fine line between cautious and paranoid, and I’m not sure which side of the line I’m on. Case in point: The phone rang a little while ago. When I answered it, the caller identified herself as being from an official and important-sounding government healthcare organization, and said she was updating my Medicare records. At that point I said, “No, thank you,” and hung up. I could hear her saying something as I was putting the phone down, but she got cut off before she could finish her sentence.

I know enough not to say “Yes,” if someone calls and asks, “Can you hear me okay?” or a similar question that would give them an affirmative answer which could then be used against me. I have long since gotten over the guilty feeling that I’m being rude by not responding to the pleasantries and small talk with which unknown callers often begin their phone conversations. And when I see an email telling me that one of my utilities, services, or virus protections is expiring or about to be cut off, I no longer feel a momentary sense of panic. Especially when I realize it’s something I never subscribed to in the first place.

At the very least, telemarketers who call can be persistent and annoying, refusing to take “No, thank you,” or “Not interested,” for an answer. But callers today can go way beyond being merely annoying, all the way to downright dangerous. Scammers and spammers now have a wide variety of tools and software programs they can use to manipulate my voice for purposes of identity theft.

On the other hand, I often have that nagging feeling of “What if this is for real?” What if this really is someone calling with news or requests I do need to hear? I once hung up on a financial advisor of ours because the first few seconds of his call sounded like it could be a bogus one. And I’ve almost hung up on service people we were actually waiting to hear from, for the same reason.

I guess all I can do is continue to be as cautious as I can, while trying to stay just this side of paranoid. After all, I don’t want to get to the point where I never answer the phone or the door, never respond to – or even open – my email, or start asking friends and family members to provide a code word, ID, and fingerprint scan to prove they are who they say they are.

Then again, you can never be too careful…..

September 11, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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