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Elderly Woman Saved From Losing Hundreds of Dollars to Phone Scam Thanks to CVS Worker

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Technology is advancing at a fast clip, and today’s gadgets are tomorrow’s history. Things change so quickly that it can be hard to keep up — especially for people who didn’t grow up with electronic devices.

It’s rare to see elderly people embroiled in these kinds of devices. It’s usually young people — sometimes very young people — who have their eyes glued to screens and can navigate the complex digital world with ease.

So when it comes to scams, it can be harder for the older generations to pick up on them. With the rate at which information is being gathered and processed, how do they know if someone contacting them is actually who they claim to be?

Joyce McKinney, an 80-year-old grandmother from Arizona, was convinced that the woman on the other end of the line was who she said he was.

Not only did she say she was with Arizona Public Service Electric Company, she knew McKinney’s name — how else would someone know your name unless they were in a position of authority?

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But this caller was playing McKinney. She warned her that unless she received a large payment immediately, APS would shut off her power that day.

“They called me, and they said this is APS, and you haven’t made your last two payments,” McKinney said. “She said, well, we’re going to have to shut your electric off in 30 minutes.”

Having power shut off would be a concern to most folks, but for McKinney, it was potentially lethal.

Since she lived in Arizona and it was summertime, no power meant no air conditioning, and no air conditioning meant the heat would skyrocket, which would make her house unlivable and put her health at risk.

The caller directed McKinney to get a MoneyPak for $300 and send it immediately. So a trembling McKinney set out to get the money right away to try to avoid having her power shut off.

Fortunately, a man named Glenn Jones was working at the CVS that McKinney shakily pulled up to. When he saw how frantic she was and what she was trying to do, he immediately stopped her.

Jones has seen this happen before and has personally halted several would-be transactions of the same sort ranging from $500 to $2,000.

He convinced McKinney that what she was falling for was a scam, and took the time to help her call APS and ensure that she was not really in danger of having her power shut off.

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McKinney was surprised that someone would prey on her and others in this fashion, but there are certainly people out there willing to take your hard-earned money away from you, no matter whose grandma you are.

There are several ways you can make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Call the number on your paperwork to check on your status — don’t trust information from numbers you don’t recognize or rushed calls like the one McKinney received.

Most service providers will give repeated warnings if a service is at risk for termination, and they won’t ask for prepaid cards or money orders.

When in doubt, ask a trusted friend or family member if you’re concerned or call the official number on your paperwork — we don’t always have a Glenn Jones in our lives to save us from these kinds of scams!

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking