Scam season is upon us.

There really isn’t a closing or an opening of scam season for the liars, crooks, lowlifes, fake businesses, cheaters or con people, but I think we may have had several weeks off from the phone calls over the holidays.

But the lies and the falsehoods continued without the phone calls. You know where and when without my talking about the Internet, the television stations, the off the beam publications and newsletters.

Apparently, these people think that we are gullible and ready to fall for just about anything. Unfortunately, some good people fall for these scams, pull out their checkbooks and add to the riches of the scammers. Others storm the US Capitol. Others set aside their oaths to defend and protect the Constitution. Others protest and/or cheer the thugs.

And then, dear readers three, good people are taken advantage of out of their fears or their beliefs in falsehoods that have been drummed into their heads over and over again.

Sadly, as the COVID-19 vaccines have begun to be distributed, there are criminals working that hook. If you don’t already know, here’s the scoop: You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine and you can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine.

For those on Medicare, there will be no cost. Medicare covers the cost. Callers or emailers who ask for your Medicare number or for any other personal or financial information are crooks. Don’t tell them your Social Security number. Don’t tell them your bank account number. You can’t pay to get moved up on the list.

Scammers are predictable and that’s a good thing. If you know what these despicable people act like, you can help to protect yourself. And with power dialers and voicemail, the scammers have reduced their costs.

Who among us hasn’t answered the telephone and heard that the IRS or a bank or a credit card company or an antivirus agent is calling? Most of these companies don’t call people directly no matter how official they sound. And if it’s a recording, they want you to press a number to be connected to a person who is certain to be able to help you. Hang up.

If the scam starts with a person, and money is involved (and money is always involved), the crook will want you to pay only with a prepaid debit card or a gift card. Legitimate businesses take multiple forms of payments including credit cards with fraud protection. Hang up.

If the special deal, with the immediate deadline, sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Hang up.

High pressure tactics are common, and Minnesota nice often keeps people on the phone even when the caller is badgering them. My aged mother – and I suspect other people’s aged mothers – was spoken to sharply and threatened. Threats are common. Some threats include saying that the police will be at your door to arrest you or that you will be evicted or that your grandchild will perish in jail.

Hang up. Or better yet, don’t answer the phone. It’s easier to ignore the ringing if you have caller ID, but the crooks have figured out how to make you think it’s a local call. I often wonder if we wouldn’t have world peace if the scammers worked on that instead of the cons.

Jan Mittelstadt Tippett is a retired daily newspaper editor and publisher. She returned to Owatonna in 2015. She can be reached at

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