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ADHD and Gullibility – Part I

ADHD gullibility...Is Your Fridge Running?Remember the first time someone pointed at something over your shoulder, you turned around and they pulled a fast one on you? I still blush when I get caught. You’d think at my age I wouldn’t get caught. Or blush.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my gullibility and sometime naïveté. There are some good reasons why adults with ADHD might be more gullible or overly trusting than others.

I’ll explore the reasons for this in Part II. For now, here’s a story about how last week, I nearly got caught.

A well-laid plan

I’d been receiving repeated calls from someone saying he was from the “Windows Service Center.”  I’d been getting calls at night; in the afternoon; and on that fateful morning, before 9 a.m.  My computer wasn’t even on yet.

pre-9 a.m. – Zoë’s not quite awake

“M’am, I’m calling from the Windows Service Center,” said a male voice with a thick accent. And then it went something like: is my computer on? I’m in danger; my computer’s been hacked; he’s getting multiple messages sent from my computer; I’ll lose my computer if I don’t let him help me; he’s going to clean up my computer; blah blah blah…

Me: Wow. You must be scaring a lot of people with that.

Research: what’s he going to say?

He tells me to turn on my computer. I’m curious about what he’s going to try to get me to do, and I want to be able to warn others with as many details as possible. I haul it into my office, turn on my computer. He says, “What do you see on your computer?”


I’m thinking, You mean my monitor? I resist the urge to say, A photo of George Orwell. I resist reading him the accompanying quote on writing well. I’m pretty sure that’s not what he’s getting at.

Then we cut to the chase. He tells me to hit the Windows key and the “D” key at the same time.

Ya, right.

Zoë fights back

At this point, it’s obvious he’s going to try to get control of my computer and rob me blind, rip off my passwords, etc., so I ask for his phone number. He becomes indignant. I insist. He gets his supervisor.

She’s a belligerent, aggressive so-and-so but kind of fun. Very convincing in giving me the impression I’m a schmuck who’s wasting her time (half of that is true). She won’t give me her phone number until I tell her my customer ID.

You called me. How can I have a customer ID?

Zoë loses ground

This is really starting to feel like a colossal mind-f*ck. We go back and forth and then she gives me a “licence number:” 888DCA60- and on and on for 36 – thirty-six! – characters, half of which are letters which she recites as, “D for David, C for Charlie,” etc. You can imagine how long it took.

I read it back to her.

The same way.

Just to be sure.

I asked again for her phone number.

She became aggressive. Why was I asking for her number? Was I calling her a liar? Was I questioning her sincerity? How dare I question her? ADHD and gullibilitySuddenly, I was on the defensive.

She got me where she wanted me. Triggered, I slipped back into emotional childhood; back to a time when I was always on the defensive, always the bad guy.

I could feel myself caving, questioning my own judgment. Like someone falling under a spell, I thought, What if I was wrong?

I caught myself before it was too late.

I’ll just have to take my chances, I said, and hung up.

Listening to your instincts: a good thing

I immediately searched “Windows Service Center” online and confirmed that it’s a well-known scam (well-known except, apparently, to me). My experiences matched those of others, verbatim. Some had fallen prey to the fraud and had allowed the scammers to get access to their computer.

I couldn’t believe I’d started to doubt myself, even for a second. Why? I had education and experience with computers. I knew better.

In my next blog post, I’ll explore reasons why adults with ADHD might be vulnerable to deception, and why we might tend to be more gullible, even naïve, than others and what to do about it.

In the meantime, if someone tells you they’re from the “Windows Service Center” that’s not only pathetically unimaginative – it’s a scam! Hang up and whatever you do, don’t ever – ever – hand a stranger who calls you the keys so they can rob you blind.


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ADHD and Gullibility – Part I

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2014). ADHD and Gullibility – Part I. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Feb 2014
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