New Castle News

All About You ...

December 2, 2013

Mitchel Olszak: Personal skepticism is best defense against scams

NEW CASTLE — The caller said she had been targeted by a telephone scam.

She wanted me to put something in the paper to warn others.

I asked if she had contacted police about the matter. She replied that she had, but was told that because she did not lose any money, there was nothing police could do.

Under the circumstances, I said there wasn’t much we could do either. I said that scams are a dime a dozen and we run news items about them all the time — without any indication they help.

But the caller was persistent. She said this one was different, because it targeted senior citizens. Again, I replied, nothing unusual about that.

I encouraged her to write a letter to the editor, if she was concerned about her encounter, but she obviously was displeased that I failed to jump at the opportunity to handle it myself.

There were a couple of reasons for that. First, an individual’s belief that something is a scam does not necessarily make it so. The caller may have been absolutely correct, but I had no evidence to back that up.

Second, I am always concerned when we report specific scams, because this runs the risk of indirectly legitimizing others. The reality is that scams are everywhere these days, thanks to modern communications. It’s impossible for any newspaper or any entity to keep track of them all and effectively warn the public.

And you can’t expect law enforcement to be much help, either. Most of these scammers operate beyond state or even national boundaries. Tracking them down can be all but impossible.

Plus, the scams themselves quickly morph into new forms. Often, they take advantage of current events to fool people into giving up their money or crucial personal information.

So here’s my piece of anti-scam advise: Be suspicious. Be skeptical. Even if you get an email that seems to be from someone you know, be careful.

I consider everything to be a scam, until I am persuaded otherwise.

Perhaps that’s the journalist in me. There’s an old saying in the newspaper business: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

So if I’m going to be wary of my mother, guess what I’m going to be thinking about a phone call or email from a stranger?

Scams come in countless forms, but they tend to boil down into efforts to employ fear, greed or guilt to separate you from your money. If you truly understand that, and are prepared for the inevitable scams we all now encounter, you will spare yourself considerable grief.

The fact is, the immediacy of scams — and the speed with which scammers can do their damage — mean we all have to be our own best lines of defense. We must protect ourselves, and we can do that best by being skeptical.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
All About You ...
  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Says: Problems with no credit score?

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Play with names — not with your food

    Do you remember being told, “don’t play with your food” when you were a child?  Or maybe you’ve said this to your own children or grandchildren. I’ve heard stories about kids slipping food under the table to the dog or stuffing Brussels sprouts into their pockets to get out of the pain of eating them.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: A T-shirt dress can be a three for all

    I love finding pieces that can be worn for just about every portion of my life.  From daytime, to work, and then on a date with my husband, I like pieces that can go the distance.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ivy_bday.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: Happy birthday, Miss Ivy!

    This week I would like to take time out of my usual ramblings to wish my second born daughter, Ivy, a very, very happy first birthday!

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Olszak.jpg Heartbleed raises the stakes on Internet security

    My column last week dealt with Internet and related scams, along with steps people can take to protect themselves. Today’s column could be termed Part 2 of that topic, albeit from a different angle.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hudson.jpg Lugene Hudson: Celebrate Easter like Helen Martin

    What’s cookin? That’s one of our favorite questions at Culinary Conversation. We love when readers share some of their favorites. This week, Helen Martin of New Castle stepped up to the plate to answer that question regarding Easter dinners.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Ramsey: You can’t borrow way out of debt

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Wellness a growing trend among those over 50

    The power of choice that the explosion of Internet information has generated is moving us as a culture in a direction to examine who we are and what we really value.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: Some perfect fits for heading back to work

    I'm heading back to work soon and I've really been thinking about my work wardrobe — especially because I'm hoping most of it still fits my post-baby body.

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Kali.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: It’s one of those days — and sometimes that’s OK

    Today, I am distracted. I had a long weekend. I am kind of in a bad mood. My daughter is playing with a toy with multiple musical buttons and keeps interrupting the playing song to start it over again.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

What is your favorite Easter treat?

Jelly beans
Chocolate ... bunnies, crosses, anything that’s chocolate!
Marshmallow peeps
Decorated eggs
     View Results