Senior News Line
by Matilda Charles
Some random thoughts for getting through the day …
Have you heard of custom puzzles? They’re available at a number of places online. (Read the reviews before you order and look for U.S. companies.) Select a favorite vacation or family photo, decide on the size of the puzzle and the number of pieces, send in your order and you’ll get back all the pieces to create a puzzle of that image. Call the company first to be sure of the details.
Buy stamps by mail and stay out of the post office. Ask the local post office to have your mail carrier bring out a stamp order form and envelope. Check off the ones you want, write a check payable to Postmaster and slide it into the envelope. Leave it in your outgoing mail and within a few days your stamps will be delivered to you.
Do you have enough indoor plants? Even if you have a few, can you use more? Plants are good for our indoor environment where we’re all spending so much time. Check your local nursery for curb pickup.
If you miss playing chess with others, you can play online. See www.chess.com/play/computer and play against the computer. Better yet, play against a pal using an old-school method: set up a board on each end and send your moves to each other via email.
On the other hand, too many people are trying to cut their own hair nowadays since too many salons and barber shops are closed. If you think you want to cut your own hair, don’t. If you really insist you need to cut your hair and haven’t done it before, go online to YouTube and watch a few dozen how-to videos about cutting hair. Then rethink your plan again. Whatever you do, don’t use regular kitchen or paper scissors. If you have to do this, invest in proper haircutting shears.
Scammers have come up with even more ways to defraud us, this time using the coronavirus.
Contact tracers are people who make calls when someone you know has tested positive for the coronavirus. Their job is to trace the possible path the virus has taken from person to person. They only need health information and the places you’ve been, not financial or personal information. If someone calls you who insists on knowing additional information as part of the contact tracing, hang up.
If you get emails or calls from someone saying they have a cure for the virus, or a sure-fire method of being certain you don’t get it, hang up. Their next questions will likely be to ask for your personal or financial information, or a credit card number so you can pay for shipping. Don’t fall for it. There are no approved test kits or cures that can be handed out to the general public.
If you get email that’s supposedly from the government asking about where to send your stimulus relief check, ignore it. The government is not going to contact you about that. They’ll send your check (if you’re eligible for one) in the mail or they’ll deposit it directly into your account, the same one where they deposit your Social Security benefit. Scammers also will pretend to be people from your bank.
If you get a robocall saying you qualify for low-cost coronavirus insurance, hang up.
If you get suspicious email that looks like it might be from the government with information about coronavirus, don’t open it, and especially don’t click on any links. Those can put a virus or tracer on your computer.
To stay up on the news about the virus, use a legitimate source: www.ftc.gov/coronavirus. On that site you’ll find more information about avoiding coronavirus scams.
Beware … and stay safe.
Social Media Holds Hidden Dangers
Even before the lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus, too many seniors felt isolated. Now it’s even worse for many of us with the lack of face-to-face interactions … and we’ve turned to social media for connections to others.
There, on Facebook and Twitter, in chat rooms and email lists, we’ve found friends to talk to and pass the hours of this lockdown. We feel happy to have these people at the other end of the keyboard. It’s good for us.
Or maybe not.
The big problem with social media is that we really don’t know who is on the other end. The new friend who seems so interested in us might actually be a scammer, just waiting for the right moment to spring the trap and ask for money. How can you refuse, you’ll wonder, if someone you’ve come to know so well asks for help?
Or maybe we’ve shared too much information, such as our location or our real name.
Or how about the new friend who sends funny cartoons, one of which might contain a virus that leaves our computer open to hackers?
Add in an election year, and it’s all too easy to talk online with people who supposedly share our views. Quite commonly they ask for money or contact info.
Some things to think about:
If you really want to connect with others on social media, create a fake name for it. Learn how to block people and don’t add just anybody to your network or list. Don’t give out your real name or location, no matter how friendly other people seem.
Focus on an area of social media with a narrow, safe focus such as pets, cooking or gardening.
Better yet, call up a few people you already know and ask if they’d like to meet for online games, such as chess, or just chatting. They might feel just as isolated as you do and welcome your overture.
(c) 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.