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
  • Time to do it Time to do it

    It never made sense that criminal background checks were not made on medical license applications in Maryland. Fortunately — for the protection everybody — the background investigations may soon be a matter of routine.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Get involved Get involved

    Cumberland residents who want to make an impact on their community have an opportunity in that the city is seeking applicants for five of its boards.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where is it?

    Once upon a time, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce held its annual conventions at the Bedford Springs resort hotel near Bedford, which is in Pennsylvania.

    July 28, 2014

  • Korean War Korean War

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sloppy lawmaking is to blame

    July 27, 2014

  • C-minus grade C-minus grade

    If a survey conducted by and the Kaufman Foundation is an accurate portrayal, Maryland has a long way to go to become a business-friendly state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story