Paul Meloan – Vested Interest

Few rules in finance work all of the time, but here’s one: if someone you don’t know calls you on the phone and wants money for something, hang up. I’ve never, and I mean never, heard of any situation where a phone call comes from out of the blue and you actually owe someone for anything legitimate. Shall I say it again? Never. It’s a scam.

“I’ve never, and I mean never, heard of any situation where a phone call comes from out of the blue and you actually owe someone for anything legitimate.”

Now my Millennial Children are laughing at me already (“What? Talk on the phone? That’s so-1993!!”). I know that some of you still feel the need to answer the phone if someone calls you on it. I hereby cure you of this need.

Since the advent of caller ID on household phones, I have made a hard rule that I never, ever answer the phone if I don’t know who it is. Caller “Unavailable”? Denied. Caller ID “Blocked”? Denied. Don’t recognize the number? Go ahead and leave a message and if you’re a real human being I wish to speak with I will return the call. Promise. This happens once every 7 months. The other 99.35% of the time the computer robo-calling me disconnects without leaving a message. Same rule now applies to my cell phone: you only need to audition once but you will need to audition to get me to answer the phone.

What will the scammer try?

Most scammers working the phones threaten you with impending arrest over something trivial and likely non-existent. Favorites are a problem with your taxes, or that you missed a jury summons (a friend called me to tell me about this one today). The cure usually involves you becoming several hundred to a few thousand dollars poorer. You want to play that game?

The silver lining in the rise of fake news is that people’s skins are starting to thicken. Credibility matters. A stranger on the phone has none, and it should stay that way.

<p>Paul Meloan is the co-founder and co-managing member of Aegis Wealth Management, LLC, located in Bethesda, Maryland USA. Before Aegis Paul was a practicing attorney as well as working in the tax practice of Ernst & Young, LLP.</p>

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