Banker Makes Personal Call
by Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
‘Tis the season to be joyful and giving. But not so fast. Recently, while out of state travelling for work, I received a phone call asking for “Marge.” I responded that she wasn’t available and asked if I could help. The woman on the other end explained that she was calling from Wells Fargo Bank and wanted to discuss something with my mother. I told her that my mother was unavailable but I’d be happy to help as I’m not only her daughter, but also have a POA. The woman, Amy (name protected) then told me that since I was not on mom’s account, she wasn’t able to discuss anything with me. I gently explained to her that if anything was a concern, she absolutely could discuss it with me. Amy then wished me adieu and hung up.
Of course, being the skeptic I am, I called her back on the number that appeared on my cell phone to verify it was truly a banker that was attempting to call my mother. To my surprise, or maybe not so much, the number was not a Wells Fargo number but Amy’s personal cell phone! I left a snarky message letting Amy know in clear terms that if she was attempting to scam my mother, it will “stop right here.” I then called my brother the finance guy, so he could immediately follow up with this as I was out of town and unable to do anything with this situation for several days. My brother checked in with my mom who somehow assured him that the call was okay and normal. My mother has dementia. I then reached out to my sister, who suggested I call the local police and report the lady and the phone number.
Upon my return to Pennsylvania, instead of calling Chief Nicolleti yet again, for fear of him recognizing my number (see prior articles on Mom’s driving); I called the branch manager at Wells Fargo. Max (name protected) was clearly concerned with my call and assured me that my concerns were warranted. I told him “If Amy really is a banker, why wouldn’t she use the Wells Fargo bank phones?” I further went on to say “If Amy is my mother’s banker, why would she call me about my mother’s account as I was listed as the third number on the account?” So clearly this seemed important enough for her to call the first line, get no answer. Move on to calling the second number and get no response until she rested on the third number listed only to tell me she cannot speak with me. Lastly, I told Max, “Amy is a banker. She is not my mother’s friend or bridge partner, so why is she calling at all having anything to do with anything that is unrelated to money, banking or finance?”
I hope Amy is not fired. But I do hope that she has learned her lesson. Mom and I will go into Wells Fargo by the end of the week and add my name to her account like we’ve already done with her other bank accounts to help protect her from scammers like Amy. Do I really think that Amy was intending to scam mom? Perhaps. Plain and simple I cannot imagine any reason for her to have called my mother for any other reason. Max assured me that mom’s accounts were all fine. And if they weren’t, Amy should have used a bank phone not her personal one. Scammers come in all shapes and sizes. They have all different ways to gain access to your parents, especially if they have a sense that your mom or dad may suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s or MCI. The fact that mom cannot drive and her wonderful Visiting Angel, Jessica takes her to the bank was most likely a good clue for Amy.
My sister told me she recently called mom and was chatting on for over five minutes when mom interrupted to ask “Who am I talking to?” My sister was aghast! Mom didn’t recognize her voice. Sadness and terror gripped her. Scamming mom was becoming a more realistic possibility by the day. Protect your loved ones. Some things my siblings and I have done: a) obtain Power of Attorney documentation, b) access to her bank accounts, c) access to her emails, d) video cameras installed in her home so we can keep on eye on who goes in and who goes out and e) the help and watchful eye of neighbors who have 24/7 access to me by text or call should anything look amiss.
Photo credits by wsj.com and express.co.uk