No Resting in Peace

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, seen in a rare relaxed pose, insists there will be no rest in peace.There are so many ways to be conned. Especially if you’re a senior citizen. I used to worry that my mother would lose all of her little fortune to some cruel predator. Living alone, in her nineties, and hard of hearing, my mom was the perfect target for Medicare scams, fake charities, cyber-stalking, con artists selling counterfeit prescription drugs or anti-aging products, and phony grandkid-in-trouble-send-money messages. I had nightmares that she’d be a victim of identity theft or credit-card fraud. She was always getting calls from telemarketers and various organizations asking for donations. And who knows what phishing and financial hoaxes plagued her emails.

Mom loved sweepstakes and lotteries. You’re the lucky winner, they’d announce: just pay a couple-hundred for shipping and handling. Buy or donate and you’ll have a chance to win… they’d lure her in. My mother had a hard time saying no to any of these, as witnessed now by the piles of her junk mail still being forwarded daily to my house.

“She’s in a better place now,” people said when Mom died last winter, “May she rest in peace.” But there was no resting in peace for me. I went crazy phoning to pay the bills and close all her accounts. Banks, Medicare, Department of Motor Vehicles…. At every institution, I was repeatedly asked for her birth date, her passwords and mother’s maiden name, her “social” and address. For months I felt queasy spewing out her private information to these strangers over the phone. But not as nauseous as last week when my sister told me of the alert from one of the medical providers: they’d been hacked and Mom’s personal data had been breached.

It felt like I, myself as much as my dead mother, had been invaded. Robbed. Violated. I avoided leaving home and didn’t answer the phone. Had I somehow contributed to that cyber crime? I stayed off Facebook for days.

My friend emailed me a photo she’d snapped. Me. In “a rare relaxing moment,” she wrote. This might be the last time you see me resting because OMG, I’m the vulnerable senior now. And I’m horrified that I won’t even be safe from hackers when I’m dead.

 

Have you checked your credit rating lately? What do you do to protect your identity, your money, your peace?

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16 thoughts on “No Resting in Peace

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I should add that I also worry at night, but about politics and the climate rather than about hackers and con artists (who also contact me on FB). I hope you’re spending time outside. Seen any butterflies.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Elaine. Glad you asked about the butterflies because I see them all the time and think OF YOU, Elaine. Not spending nearly enough time outside though. Mostly just the hiking. To me, spending good time outside means sitting or moving slowly, maybe gardening, and totally getting into being outside (as opposed to marching forward on a hike outside).

      Reply
  2. Elaine Mansfield

    I know!! I get plenty of those hack calls and ignore them. My mother-in-law didn’t have a phone her last year in nursing care and before that she had health aides answering the phone in her apartment. She didn’t have credit cards or internet or any of those hackable things. In that way, I was spared. She died a year ago 9/6/18, and I think/hope I’m finally done getting medical bills that should have been paid by Medicaid. I learned how to forward them to the right place. There haven’t been any new ones for a few months. The paperwork of dying is shocking, isn’t it? Goodbye to the older ones, cause we’re the old ones now. I love seeing you relaxed.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Still no end in sight, Elaine. Between probate and lawyers and all the junkmail addressed to my deceased mom, well, I get to think about her every day. A lot. Yow, you were lucky Virginia had no credit cards or computer. Automatic payments – what a blast trying to undo those. My mom keeps getting small checks from Walmart or Walgreens. Can’t figure out what for or why. It’s never-ending, but I’m getting used to it. Getting to relax too. Yup. We’re the old ones now. How did that happen so quickly? I’m a daughter one day and the next thing I know I’m an old lady.

      Reply
  3. Lynne Taetzsch

    Wow, Robin! Maybe your reaction has something to do with the loss of your mother? On top of a loss of your daughter? A feeling of not being in control? (Sorry for the armchair psychoanalysis.)

    I have locked my credit reports and don’t answer the phone unless I recognize the name or number, but outside of that, I don’t let it get to me. People try to scam artists all the time, saying they are interested in buying art for their wife, or some such, but these fake emails are easy to identify and ignore.

    Hope you find peace with this soon!

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Oh, I believe you, Lynne. Definitely permanently damaged due to loss and loss of control. I recently learned about not answering phone numbers I don’t (or my phone doesn’t) recognize. OMG is that difficult! Not answering the poor phone! Not knowing who is trying to reach me to tell me I’m invited to dinner or I’ve won some great honor or …. Not easy or fun, but yes, I’m trying to be vigilant. Most days.

      Reply
  4. Monica Sword

    Having experienced similar issues, we’ve locked our credit reports, we use “incognito” mode on all our devices when surfing the internet, and use LastPass for secure storage of passwords, account numbers, and other critical information. We put all our purchases on one credit card (with our local bank which has plenty of payback benefits) and have gotten rid of store sponsored credit cards. And as many people do, use a junk email address whenever I have to sign up for an offer or make hotel/camping reservations as those places are notorious for unsecured systems. Even the state of Florida, allows email addresses as public information, so any communication with them releases the address to anyone (not the actual message though). These steps are necessary, take vigilance and are worth the time for some peace of mind, but it’s sure not fun!

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      OMG, Monica. Sounds like you know a ton about this. I’m taking notes. Yikes! A junk email address even. Taking all these precautions could be a full-time occupation. Sigh. I better investigate some of this “incognito” and LastPass stuff. Today. Thanks!

      Reply
    1. Janet Hart

      Sorry Robin, don’t mean to judge, these do sound like legitimate concerns and the blog entry fun to read, as usual. The part that is not tongue-in-cheek aside, I just hope that this does not describe a way of life, from here on on out and until…but then I also hope the US will have a real president again very soon. I “subsist” with three credit cards only–well, two are debit tied to my hard-to-hack French and American bank accounts…one is an airline card that gives me mileage with each purchase, and the balance paid automatically each month. Got rid of all consumer credit cards several years ago and I don’t miss them!! Oh and then there is paypal. Otherwise, I’m sort of an open book, Facebook-wise, any way. Then again, I no longer live in the States, and I wonder whether there is less hacking and fraudulence craziness. Perhaps I should worry more!

      Reply
      1. Robin Botie Post author

        Janet, if you can sleep nights and avoid all the worry – more power to you. Getting rid of all consumer credit cards sounds great to me. I never did trust Paypal or The Cloud or something I can’t see or carry in my pocket. Money moving back and forth wirelessly or wiring – seems suspicious to me. it most definitely does describe a new way of life – for me. I don’t trust anybody or anything when it comes to my money or my identity. I just found that I could shop at a popular department store where I’d recently gotten a credit card, without the actual card on my person. That kinda creeped me out. I mean, what would stop someone else from giving my name, saying, Oh, I left my card at home, can I please charge this anyway. Yikes!?!

        Reply
    2. Robin Botie Post author

      Well, I wasn’t going to put it that bluntly, Ms Hart, but yes, exactly, I have to admit.

      Reply
      1. Janet Hart

        I don’t know, Mme Botie, you wrote a while back about blunt stuff soaring out of your mouth before you had a chance to censor…and it was kind of like that. Later I decided that looked at another way–i.e. kind of insensitive, it being so utterly clear to all of us how impressively you’ve managed to rise above your struggles and help others in the process— perhaps I shouldn’t have but there is no canceling replies once sent that I can find, so it was too late! I am so impressed that you do go on, year after year, with such grace and humor. On another note entirely, did you get a load of the peach pies that Monica’s was selling last week, so packed with fruit and un-French pastry discreet? How I longed to hop on a plane. Also for some fresh summer corn-on-the-cob, c on the c is still mostly animal feed around here. On debt and consumerism, I don’t know, I spent so much time in debt (other than my student loan, which is just a fact of life at this point and manageable thanks to an Obama era program so I don’t have to worry) to be virtually debt-free has been wonderful and hope I never have to go back. For me personally, now I know full well that it is not the same as actual money in the bank and that was good to learn and accept. Hugs and bisous, Janet

        Reply
        1. Robin Botie Post author

          Thanks for the hugs and bisous, Janet. You’re gonna be disappointed but I’ve only been back to Monica’s once or twice since our road trip days. I did try making my own grape pies for a while but that was too much work. I will toast you the next time I have corn-on-cob as this is the season and the corn here now is great. I keep hoping that you’ll hop on a plane and show up at my door some day. No one does road trips like you used to. I miss that. And will be thrilled if you ever want to stay here and revisit some of the old familiar places. You still get some shoe catalog here once in a while and I trash them, considering you can get much better in Paris. I hope you are well and happy. Hugs and bisous to you too.

          Reply

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