Cumberland Times-News


May 12, 2014


When in doubt, just hang up the telephone

The latest scam going around — that we are aware of — involves telephone calls from someone who claims to be a Circuit Court employee who tells the listener he has been charged with contempt of court and fined for failing to report for jury duty.

The caller refers to a judge by name — it’s easy to find a judge’s name and use it for reference — and demands payment over the phone by prepaid card. This isn’t how the courts or any other government or police agency operate. They don’t call people and make

If you were subject to a fine, the judge would tell you in person, in court.

The Maryland Judiciary says anyone who gets such a call
should hang up immediately.

Telephone scammers often pose as representatives of government agencies or utilities seeking payment of what they say are overdue bills — which is not how utilities handle such matters — and demand money and personal information.

They like to target senior citizens on the premise that they may be subject to sudden panic when confronted by someone who purports to be a figure of authority. Many senior citizens — especially if they are veterans or retired from public service — are in fact just the opposite.

Instead of making threats, some scammers tell people they have won a lottery or a prize of some kind and tell them they must pay a processing fee.

Any time callers ask for a Social Security number, bank account or credit card number or other private, personal information, it’s most likely a scam. Never give out such information over the phone, on the Internet or to someone who comes to your home unsolicited.

Be wary if someone uses bullying tactics to get you to pay. If a caller says you owe money, take down the necessary information and then call the government agency or service provider’s customer service line to verify your account balance.
The police like to know about such things, too, so they can warn others about it.

Do not panic. Take time to think through it. Do you really owe the amount they say you owe?

Wiring money is the same as sending cash. Once it is sent, it is difficult to trace who received it. Giving out a credit card number leaves you open to theft of money and your identity.

Caller ID is no defense either, because scammers can “spoof” a phone number.

Remember: If it sounds too good — or bad — to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Text Only
  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fronts, highs, lows determine weather

    Weather news on television and internet focus on violent weather, extreme temperatures and flooding.

    July 13, 2014