Gentle Humor

Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog – I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Finances

Beware Email Scammers

“Hello, this account is infected.” This is what my latest email scammer is telling me. He’s hacked my computer and knows that I’ve been watching porn, and he’s going to let all my contacts know about it – unless, of course, I send him $1,000. In Bitcoin, no less. As if I knew how to use Bitcoin.

I know it’s a scam because I haven’t been watching porn, but I’m sure this guy sends his blackmail to millions of people, and some of them are bound to have been indulging in a little afternoon delight with their computer. I can just picture their panic when they see this email. “Oh crap, if my mom finds out, I’m a goner. Where am I going to get $1,000? Don’t they know I’m fifty-five and still live at home? I don’t have that kind of money.”

One of several of these kinds of emails extorting money

This particular scam is scary because it shows your own email address as the person who sent it. Wow, how do they do that? I asked Google, who sent me to the FTC, which said: “This is a criminal extortion attempt to separate people from their money. If you — or someone you know — gets a letter like this, report it immediately to your local police, and the FBI.” Another site explained in techno mumbo-jumbo how scammers mimic your own email address, but they really haven’t hacked your account. Their advice? Change your password and don’t worry. Just ignore it. 

Okay, I won’t worry, but it really makes me want to do something vicious to these hackers, like locking them in an air-tight room with old-west cowboys who’ve eaten nothing but beans for the past six months. Or strapping them into the passenger seat of a car with a driver who uses the gas pedal and brake at the same time – jerk the jerk, as it were. These people deserve to be tormented in very psychologically annoying ways.

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In Trouble with the IRS – Again

That lady called again – the one who sounds like she’s just finished smoking a couple cartons of cigarettes. She said I’m in trouble with the IRS. I didn’t quite get the reason because she won’t leave a complete message. The recording always starts mid-sentence, spoken with her deep, gravely voice: “…with the IRS. You need to call the tax center immediately to avoid additional penalties and possibly jail time. Call 515 837….”

Like every American, I’m terrified of the IRS. They have the power to bankrupt even famous people like Willy Nelson. Once I got a letter from them saying I’d made an error on a tax return I’d filled out three years before. They charged me nearly two hundred dollars in interest and penalties – the math error itself was only about thirty-nine bucks – but I’m not complaining (in case they’re reading this). I’m just happy I only had to pay three years worth of interest for them to get around to noticing the error.  

I don’t mess with the IRS.

But here’s what I can’t understand. If they’re so powerful, and they’re really after me, can’t they at least leave a whole, intact message?

And why doesn’t the IRS have a 1-800 number to call back? They’re going to throw me in jail AND make me pay for the call?

Also, why is their agent always a woman with a low, threatening voice like she’s at some Mafia funeral – like she’s saying, “You better cooperate or you’ll be next on Guido’s list.” Can’t the IRS hire a regular person to terrify me?

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Why Credit Cards Are Evil

I recently got a bundle of blank checks from my credit card company. They send them every other day with exciting headings like, “CONSOLIDATE YOUR OTHER DEBTS AND SAVE! LOW INTEREST!”

I usually tear them up because I know they’re EVIL, but yesterday I was curious just how evil they were. Let me tell you, folks, they are very, VERY evil.

I got out my 20x magnifying glass and started reading the fine print. It said, “Yo, sucka, if you decide to use these checks, you will owe us: (1) an arm, (2) a leg, (3) your first-born child, (4) your sister’s first-born child, and (5) everything else.” Trust me, these credit card companies are not acting in your best interest. They want your interest, and everything else they can get.

For example, I have two credit cards. One I use because it pays cash back bonuses. When I looked at the checks they sent (I’m stating this from memory because I’ve already torn them up), it said I could consolidate all my other, higher interest debts into this one payment at a low interest rate. Sounds great. But here’s the catch. They wanted a fee of $10 or 5% of the value of the check, whichever was highest. Hmmmm, $10 isn’t bad. I can afford that. Besides, to figure out that 5% would require me to remember 7th grade math.

Maybe I’m one of those people who spent 7th grade writing notes to my girlfriends or the boy who kept dropping pencils so he could look up girls’ skirts. Maybe we didn’t have the time or inclination to pay a whole lot of attention to those lessons on percentages. What good was it going to do us? We’d never use it anyway.

These are the kinds of people the credit card companies are BANKING on, and I mean that literally. They are making masses of money on these checks.

You might ask why a smart human would use these checks. They wouldn’t. But there are plenty of devotees to Sarah Palin who would, and they’d use them without doing the math because they’re desperate for cash RIGHT NOW. If they’re only desperate for $200 in cash, they’ll be okay, because they’ll only pay the $10 fee. However, if they are desperate for, say, $10,000 in cash because Guido is going to put their feet in a bucket of cement, then they think, “Here’s how I can get that 10,000 bucks right now and it will be AT ONLY FOUR PERCENT INTEREST for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!”

So what’s the big deal? If you multiply $10,000 by .05 (that’s the way you calculate 5 percent), you get $500. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! They will charge you $500 to write that check. Flat fee. No negotiating.

Immediately you owe the credit card company $10,500. And they’ll start charging their 4% or whatever interest rate on that from day one. Or they’ll give you 3 months of zero interest and then start charging a huge interest rate from then on. Either way, you’re out $500. Just think of the big screen TV you could buy for your single-wide with that money if the credit card people didn’t have it.

Even though this money is touted for the use of consolidating debt, I called the credit card company and they said it could be used for anything. “Just write the check to yourself and deposit it in your bank.”

Even devotees of Sarah Palin must realize that this is a scam. Do not allow yourself to be a victim of tacky politics AND credit card robbery. It’s just too tragic.

Copyright © 2019 by Suzanne Olsen