I have an embarrassing confession to make: Recently I made a mistake that could have resulted in me getting scammed.

And that's coming from your consumer columnist.

The reason I share this gaffe, which thankfully wasn't a scam, is that it's not just little old ladies who fall for scammers.

Sure, there are some scams where you hear about them and you think, “Wasn't that really obvious? That person shouldn't have fallen for that.” Or you worry that the little old lady will fall for it — and believe me, they do. I get the phone calls from people who did think the IRS was calling them or that their grandchild had gotten arrested and needed them to immediately wire thousands of dollars. I also get calls from senior citizens who know it's a scam and just want to warn others. (You can read more about the top scams in a few of my Betty's Best Tips columns at www.ohio.com/betty.)

Also, I've written about studies that also show that young people — those in college, just out of college and beyond — are also high victims of scams.

But what scammers these days are really hoping is that we are so busy in our multitasking lives that they'll catch us when we're not completely on top of things.

That's what happened with me.

In my case, it was via an email. Yes, of course, I know about phishing emails, or emails that seem to come from companies you do business with when its really a scammer hoping for you to share some financial information to steal from you.

The phishing emails have gotten more sophisticated. The Nigerian prince is no longer emailing you some far-flung tale of lost riches that is easy to spot as a scam. There are still some of those or ones with such bad grammar that you should spot it a mile away.

In my case, my family was stranded in Miami for a day after an out-of-the-country vacation when we didn't make our incoming connecting flight.

The next morning at breakfast, my husband showed me an email on his phone from our credit card company asking if a charge for an Amazon purchase at 3 a.m. on the credit card we had actively been using on vacation was legitimate. It wasn't.

We clicked “no.” We had to contact the company before we could use the card again.

Shortly after, my husband and I were walking in the muggy Miami heat toward a drugstore to get something. I was busy multitasking, trying to rearrange things back home since we were delayed by a day. I can't recall exactly how I got the phone number to call. What I should have done was grabbed my credit card and called the number on the back. I think since I was in a rush, I Googled my credit card provider and “fraud” and called a number.

After a few minutes of speaking to a representative and giving him our full account number and some other information, I distinctly remember a moment of panic. What if this wasn't really my credit card provider and I was willingly giving my information to a scammer?

I hung up the phone.

I grabbed the credit card from my wallet for the real number. I told the person what had happened and asked them to please tell me there was a flag on our account for fraudulent activity and that they had been trying to reach me. The customer service person confirmed I had actually been speaking to a legitimate representative.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

Again, I share this to give my readers real-life experience. It happens to us all. We're all so busy and we sometimes make mistakes along the way. It's best and safest to always be skeptical of any email you get and separately find a number you know is legitimate and call for yourself.

But scams still do happen.

Laurie Cramer, executive director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, shared her nonprofit's story with me to also raise awareness.

The small nonprofit was almost out $2,000 this spring when its computer system got hacked and four staffers received an email that seemed to come from Cramer. The sender's name was Cramer, but the email address was not her regular email (though the staffers didn't see that).

The first email was a casual email supposedly coming from Cramer to her staff saying she was stuck in a meeting, but needed some help. One of Cramer's staffers who was out of the office that day, quickly replied and asked what she needed. Cramer (or the person she thought was Cramer) asked if the person knew how to make a payment by PayPal.

When the staffer replied and said to log on to PayPal and send the funds, the scammer replied and said she was in a meeting and could the person just do it?

The staffer did.

But luckily two backup measures saved the organization. The real PayPal texted the person at the organization responsible for finances, saying there was a suspicious payment and should PayPal pay it? The person said no, since she had also received the email, knew Cramer wasn't in a meeting and came to ask Cramer, who ironically had just been alerted that the organization's computers were hacked.

The staffer who sent the payment felt awful, Cramer said.

“She even said she was doing things too quickly and she was off-site,” said Cramer. “It was a perfect storm. You're out, you're getting these alerts, you're taking care of kids. Your mind is not on the scammer. That's exactly what happened.”

Cramer said as she has shared her story with other nonprofits and business contacts in town, many have shared that they have had similar experiences. One business had a client lose $100,000 to the scam.

So, here's the bottom line: While we are all busy, we need to make sure to stay vigilant, slow down and always take the extra step to confirm independently before responding to emails about our accounts.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty