March 24, 2024

“We were nervous, we were scared, we were panicked,” says Judy Lawrence, an Albuquerque financial counselor, consultant and author.

Lawrence and her husband, Steve, know about scams – they hear about them, read about them and Lawrence includes discussion of them in webinars she conducts.

But that didn’t stop the couple from becoming alarmed when they were confronted with one of the ubiquitous PNM scams, in which a fake employee warns the power is about to be shut off unless an “overdue” payment is made immediately.

“What fascinated me about this whole event was our reactions,” Lawrence says. “We are very educated, smart seniors, yet we found ourselves in full-on emotional reaction to the urgency, fear and doubts in those moments.”

It can happen to anyone because it’s what so many scammers excel at: freaking people out with dire threats so their victims won’t have time to think things through.

Steve got the warning call while driving home on a recent frigid day. The caller said trucks were en route to his house, and he needed to provide his credit card number immediately to avoid freezing in the dark.

Steve called his wife, who found the email from PNM confirming payment. She also confirmed the money had been withdrawn from their bank account.

Still, they felt themselves unsettled – especially after the caller said it might all be an accounting problem but regardless, they were overdue by $380.

It wasn’t until they called PNM they…

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