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Editorial: Think hard before making that next click, it could be a scam


Oh the ’70s, back when there was real music and lyrics that challenged the system, including those by the Five Man Electrical Band.

Remember their big song from 1970 entitled “Signs” that never went big until a year later?

It started:

“And the sign said long-haired freaky people need not apply.
“So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.

“He said, ‘You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do.’
“So I took off my hat, I said, ‘Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”

Most every teenager of the day could relate to those lyrics and how it challenged the cookie-cutter image that graduates of high school and post-secondary education were supposed to fit into.

Then the chorus came: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

This song posed a question about who is permitted to put up signs that interfere with nature and gave voice to those without power or property rights.

But that was the early ’70s and we’re now into the late 2000-teens, heading for 2020.

We’re all plugged in now. We can type in a song title and instantly get that song up on our computer screen, along with a bunch of information on where it came from, what it’s about, who wrote it, who sang it and even who covered it, possibly putting their own twist on it.

Maybe the following could be an updated version of the chorus for that song: “Scam, scam, everywhere a scam. Blockin’ up the internet, breakin’ my bank account. Click on this, don’t click on that, can’t you read the scam?”

It seems every week or so, there’s a new scam on the internet with someone coming up with new and innovative ideas about how to swindle people from their money.

The week before last a business on Main Street in Stephenville received a call from a man who told the clerk he was from “corporate” and needed to have information about the prepaid credit cards they sell.

Luckily, the clerk, recognizing it may be a scam, didn’t provide any information.

The week before that, there was a complaint that a person called seeking money to help the son of the person who answered the phone. In this instance, the caller said the son was in jail in St. John’s and was looking for money to bail him out.

Then there was the incident at a hotel in Deer Lake where guests in two separate rooms reported they had received calls from someone claiming to be working on the front desk.

The caller asked the guests to confirm their credit card information, saying there had been a problem when they swiped their cards during check-in.

Luckily, in this instance, moments later the guests were contacted by their banks, who advised that their credit cards had been used to make online purchases that were flagged as suspicious. In both cases, no funds were lost.

Then last week, there was an instance in Stephenville where a woman was sent an email saying a FedEx driver had been at her house with a package and nobody was home.

In the email message was an attachment to be opened to arrange a time for a pickup. The woman found it suspicious and didn’t open it.

When FedEx was contacted by phone, a representative said it was a good thing she didn’t open the attachment, because it was a scam and her email account could have been compromised.

The problem is that today you don’t know who is at the other end of the line. Is it a long-haired freaky person? Probably not, but likely someone who has nothing better to do than come up with ideas of how to free you from your hard-earned money.

Rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Think hard before you make that next “click.”

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