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I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of people trying to invade my life through the so-called "Ro-Bo" telephone calls. Most of these calls are originated from another country through a switching device somewhere in the United States. The problem is our local law enforcement personnel can do nothing about them since they involve inter-country laws and are subject to federal jurisdiction but not local control. And, since the federal government has too many other things on its plate, apparently no one is doing anything to control these irritating calls.

I get calls about my credit cards (these people are really persistent about attempting to influence me), extended insurance coverage for two cars I no longer own, and various calls about my having won some kind of sweepstakes that I never entered. And there are more! One of my biggest headaches involves my computer. Whenever someone sends me an email, it is very tempting to open it whether I recognize the sender or not. However, that may mean that I have automatically sent out my personal information to someone who wants to use it against the law. My other computer issue involves doing a search for something only to find that there are no true sources. I am always rerouted to some strange site which either wants to sell me something or find out more about me. Yuk!

Most of us realize by now that any calls that ask for either personal information or money should be recognized as fraud and that you should immediately hang up. However, there are a lot of people who still do not know what to do, especially when it comes to something on the computer. Some people are too polite to just hang up, and so they talk not realizing that most of the time they are not talking to a person, but to a computer. Because of this, let me make some very simple suggestions for people today dealing with information fraud.

First of all, recognize that you have the right to determine who you talk with or communicate with on the computer or telephone. You are not being impolite. If someone came up to you and demanded that you hand over your purse or wallet, you would not hesitate to recognize such a person as a thief and to act accordingly. The same holds true for our communications today. If someone wants your personal financial information, your social security number or access to your computer documents, you have the right to say no and hang up. Don't hesitate; just say no and hang up!

Second, older people are the most susceptible to cybercrime (probably because they are so nice and caring). People in our area have been cheated out of repair jobs, donated money to help someone (usually a family member who is actually sitting at home watching television) get out of jail, and even shared bank account information with a stranger in order to either receive a gift (a winning prize) or to help someone. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true.

Third, computer crime is more difficult. As a general rule, keep your antivirus protection up to date and make sure it includes such things as an active firewall and antispyware technology. You may not understand these terms, but your computer does. They prevent someone from installing some malicious code that allows someone to enter your computer to obtain all of the information there you thought was safe. That's how some of our largest companies have had their information "hacked" and information stolen.

Lastly, be very careful what you download. If you have an email or solicitation from either a company or someone you don't know, just delete the file. You may normally do this by clicking the right button on your mouse and hitting "delete." If it happens to be someone you have just forgotten about, don't worry; they will contact you again and let you know who they are. Just remember, if you click open a file "just to look," it's normally too late. The sender has already gotten what he or she was seeking.

Lastly, I am told that if you suspect you have been a victim of internet fraud or cybercrime, report it to the authorities. There is an internet site called "The Internet Complaint Center (IC3), www.ic3.gov" that is available. If you suspect your credit card has been maligned, you will need to first call the credit card company and then report it to "The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), www.ftc.gov." In many situations, you may want to contact your local law enforcement agency, but remember it may not have the authority to do anything.

I hope this information helps someone. No one likes to be the victim of fraud. However, in today's world, we all must be vigilant and watch after our own lives.

• • •

Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the fire department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 02/06/2019

Print Headline: Stay vigilant in your life

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