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New crop of scams use current events
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Scammers have gotten even more creative and have come up with some ingenious ways to either get you to part with your money or steal your personal information.
Michael Jackson’s death has been big news for weeks now and is a big scam concern right now. Whether it’s fake merchandise or online videos of Jackson, many people have fallen for the ruse.
In the case of computers, malware might come attached to an e-mail or be downloaded onto your computer when you visit certain Web sites and view a video that purport to be about the King of Pop.
Jury duty scams involve threatening calls about jury duty and demands for Social Security numbers and credit-card numbers. The threat comes when that information is refused. If you get such a call, hang up.
H1N1 influenza virus (aka Swine flu) also is fodder for online scammers who promote products that allegedly prevent or cure the flu.
If you have a small business, you could be targeted by scammers who will send you mail that looks like it came from the Small Business Administration. The letters offer rebates and ask for personal and business information, such as your bank-account numbers.
Mortgage-relief programs sponsored by the government have become prime areas for scammers to operate. The Making Home Affordable program is designed to help homeowners keep their homes instead of losing them to foreclosure by getting the payments lowered. Scammers offer to “help” for a fee. The real program doesn’t require a fee upfront. If you’re told not to contact your lender, it’s likely a scam.
Your computer could be handing over information to scammers, even if you have virus protection. If you go to the wrong site or click a link to see what’s there, you could be downloading spyware without knowing it. “Keyloggers” are programs that copy every word you type and send it off.
Even if a charity solicitation is legitimate, chances are that the organization won’t get the full amount, as hired solicitors take their cut off the top. If solicitors call, say no. Ask them to take your phone number off the list, and hang up. Then, if you really do want to donate to an organization, call it up yourself and ask how to make a donation.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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