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Beware Of Scammers

In my days, they were called cheaters. You know who I’m talking about — those folks who took advantage of others. Today, they are scammers. And they are an everyday occurrence if you own a computer, cellphone, tablet or any other modern device connected to the world wide web.

This week, the fake message from FedEx caught many by surprise. It looked legit. It had people asking family members “What did you order?” However, just opening such emails exposes unsuspecting victims to viruses that infect their devices. It is a situation that keeps IT personnel busy.

I often receive phone calls from readers who want to know something about a piece of junk mail they have received — whether via the U.S. Postal Service or online. The callers are concerned about these fake mailings that appear very real and often threatening. Sometimes it’s a letter telling folks they have won a sweepstakes. The “winners” are then asked to send a money order or purchase gift cards to cover the “costs” associated with receiving the prize. How naive we have become when someone dangles a “golden ticket” in front of us.

My father passed away 29 years ago; my mother, three years ago. While I helped to settle their affairs, I still get mail in their names. And most of these mailings are from scammers or charities seeking donations. You would think that after nearly 30 years with no response, these mailings would stop. But they don’t.

But it’s the electronic scam mailings that overwhelm at times. It’s enough to make me consider putting the brakes on the internet highway. Before the internet, you could track down someone who cheated you out of a product at a store or stole your wallet.

Today, these faceless, nameless thieves are the scariest of all. They ride on the backs of unsuspecting victims. They intrude on our lives from foreign lands and basement hideouts. They are armed with the ability to hurt us in ways more dangerous than we know until it’s too late. They infiltrate bank accounts, stealing money with a click of a computer mouse, not to mention your identity. It’s not easy to know what is real or not, but caution is the word of the day.

Kind of makes me want to crawl into a cave with my daily newspaper and leave the high-speed world on the doorstep.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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