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Scammers get creative, already feed off Census
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Scammers never go away. They just get more creative in their methods of getting you to part with your money.
Here’s a sampling of current scams to watch out for:

• Scareware: Scam software that gets into your computer and makes you believe your machine has a virus. You’ll be notified with an urgent popup screen that says you need to download certain anti-virus software immediately or your computer will be in danger. The real danger is that you’ll fall for it and download (and pay for) the suggested software to fix the nonexistent problem.

• Foreign lotteries: If you get a call saying you’ve won a foreign lottery, hang up. One, you likely didn’t enter the lottery, and two, you surely didn’t give them your phone number. The scam comes in when you’re told that you need to pay fees in advance for various reasons.

• Charity scams: Anytime there’s a disaster, the scammers will hit you up for donations to help the victims. Many people would genuinely like to help, but beware who you give your dollars to. The more emotional the request for money, the more likely it is to be a scam. Stick with the big names such as the Red Cross or The Salvation Army if you want to respond to a disaster.

• Auctions: Foreclosed properties and seized cars have big scam potential. The ads make it sound like you can pick up a house for only a few thousand dollars or a vehicle for a few hundred. The scam comes when you’re asked to buy a guide to all the foreclosed properties and seized vehicles in your area. The guides aren’t cheap. If you give them your credit-card number, you’ve given them free license to charge more things to your card. To explore genuine foreclosed properties, start with the government’s Housing and Urban Development Web site at

• Census: The 2010 Census has plenty of opportunities for scams, and some have already surfaced. At this point, census takers are verifying addresses only. If someone appears at your door saying they’re from the Census and asking for information that includes your Social Security number or bank information, it’s a scam. Also beware of e-mail supposedly from the Census: You will not be contacted that way.

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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