When you think of people who get tricked by an email scam, or the person who falls for those “the IRS is coming after you calls,” you probably think of your 80-something-year-old grandma who still has an AOL account or a Boomer who thinks a tweet is something birds do.
But you know who is actually falling for these scams?
Me. That’s who.
I’m a 43-year-old mom. I’m tech savvy enough to fix my kids’ Xboxes when they go on the fritz. I run social media accounts. And, while I may not be hella hip, I do know that “cappa” is bad and “drippy” is good.
But man, if I’m not a sucker for email hackers and scammers.
Last week, I got an email from my father-in-law with the subject line “birthday gift” and asking me if we used Amazon. I thought, aww, well isn’t that sweet? He’s getting a jump on his grandson’s birthday and wants to know if he’d like an Amazon gift card or something.” Without thinking, I responded, “Yes, definitely.”
Then I saw another email from him with the same subject line and question. Fuck.
After changing my password and soothing my bruised ego (how could I fall for this shit…again?!?), I shrugged it off. Oh well. This is who I am. I am a person who falls for email hacks.
I wish I could say it was a one-time thing, but alas, it’s kind of a trend. A few years ago, I got one of those calls telling me that the IRS was after me due to some kind of error in my tax return. I literally called my husband, frantic, thinking that we needed to get a lawyer to handle it. My husband is a lawyer. I am a lawyer. And still I was freaking the fuck out. (If you want to have a laugh at my expense, here’s a bonus side note: I actually won a tax writing competition while in law school. But yeah, I fell for this ridiculous fake IRS call scam. Sigh.)
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I – a fairly tech savvy person who is not an idiot – keep falling for these things. I know not to click on unknown links. I know that if the email address is something funky, it’s not legit. I know that if an acquaintance I haven’t talked to in months is sending a middle-of-the-night email to share “EXCITING NEWS,” the only news is that they’ve been hacked. I know all of this and still I get duped. Maybe you do too.
Here’s what I think: I am a deeply trusting person and I literally cannot make my subconscious mind accept why someone would do these things. So when I get a weird email, my first thought isn’t that some hacker is trying to scam me out of money. My first thought it to assume that an older family member is trying to order something online. When I get a call from the not-IRS, my first instinct isn’t to believe that there are people who would spend all this time and money to cheat people. My first thought is that I must have made an innocent error on my tax return and I need to sort it out.
Of course, my brain knows that these assholes are out there. I know that humans can do really awful things. In fact, as someone who writes on the internet, I’ve been on the receiving end of some really awful and violent hate mail over the years. But my heart and my subconscious mind just can’t understand or accept it. My gut instinct is to trust people and believe in the goodness of humanity, and I make no apologies for that.
So go ahead and laugh at my expense for all the ways I get duped into email scams. I’m okay with that. Lord knows, I laugh at myself over these ridiculous blunders. But I refuse to let these gaffes make me feel like stupid. Because I am not. I am simply trusting. And for that I will make no apologies.
But I will change my password frequently.