BY David Uffington
Maybe none of these scams will climb to the Top Ten list at the end of the year, but if you get hit with one, it could cause no end of trouble and annoyance.
It's surprisingly low-tech, but your own home mailbox can be a source of scams and identity theft.
Thieves are targeting mailboxes at night and in rural areas, looking for pre-approved credit-card applications (they just change the address on it when they send it in), bank statements, credit-card statements and anything else that will help them re-create your identity.
If your mailbox is out of sight of your house, consider either getting a box at the Post Office or a mail store (which necessitates frequent trips to get the mail), or installing one of those locking mailboxes. For around $100 you can get a steel curbside box with a key.
Be sure that whatever you get is USPS approved.
Read online reviews before you buy, because some of the boxes are described as flimsy by those who've bought them, and some don't come with the mounting hardware.
If you buy and sell at online auctions, beware the PayPal scams. The goal of the scam email is to get you to reveal your password and ID name either by asking for it outright or by giving you a link that will "fix" a problem with your account. Don't do it. You could end up disclosing your personal banking information and putting your auction funds at risk.
Close the email, and if you truly suspect a problem with your PayPal account, and use your regular way to get to the site.
Finally, if you or your children swap USB flash drives with someone else as a means of sharing files, your computer could be in danger.
Many computers are set to autorun if these small devices are plugged in, meaning that the files start up immediately.
Whether it's intentional or not, your computer could get a virus from those USB drives, especially if the drive is plugged in when you boot up and your virus program hasn't had a chance to start.
If you're skilled with your computer, consider disabling that autorun feature.
David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.