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Monday, November 19, 2018

Turkey Bites and Other Delights


This is Sharon Hamilton. I've always told people that I'm a Christian with a bent antennae, and I have to say that pretty much sums up my life. As a toddler, I used to make faces at the church audience by standing up in the pew between my parents, staring behind them, making faces and making the other churchgoers snicker and laugh. I also threw up in the choir loft during the Christmas performance, and I forgot my lines at the annual Christmas Candlelight vigil, while I tried to recite the Christmas Story. I slipped in the Baptistry when I got baptised and nearly pulled down the minister.

Some would say, I haven't exactly been charmed, even though I was the granddaughter of a very famous evangelist who held tent meetings for thousands. He was just my grandpa.

I got the message, dear readers, just skewed. Bent.

So of course at this time of year, I'd come out with a Vampire book, right? It does begin at Christmas, and my hero, a dark coven vamp, thinks about the Christmas story and all that it means for humans, because he isn't one.

I think it's a little way to break up your Holidays. Something to sink your teeth into, and yes, it comes out tomorrow! AND it's only .99.


Here's an excerpt. Enjoy my twisted introduction to the Holiday Season. Be sure to endulge to excess--the only way to truly live!

Here's a portion of the first chapter from Christmas Bite:


Lionel Jett had always thought Christmastime was more about angels, than celebrating vampires and their vampire society. But the emotional responses within his soul ticked like a timebomb. On the one hand, the beautiful candlelit services, held at night so he could attend, were striking and revived in him his higher calling to protect the innocent and all things good and pure. To eliminate evil.
Christmas celebrated the birth of an innocent, after all—a birth that would forever change humanity. Mortals believed that a woman conceived a child without having sex. Well, Lionel had seen many things in his three hundred years of life, and he couldn’t rule out that this legend was actually fact. For if that occurred, then the possibility of redemption for himself, existed, as well as the chance for peace amongst the two vampire species.
            His thick frame was forced to hunch a bit, his shoulders rounded so he could fit into the pews made for much smaller beings, mostly mortal. The wooden, hand-carved benches weren’t constructed for huge, dark coven vampires, unless they were designed to say, “you are not welcome.”
            The Gregorian chants reverberated throughout the halls of the chapel where Marcus had first met his fated mate, Ann. Lionel watched a woman and her children light tiny, red votive candles in the alcove at the side. The light made their faces glow with that effect only mortals had. It was as if the goodness in them showed through their transparent skin, laced with the life-giving blood of their species, an elixir to some, and the highly prized substance others would die to protect.
Of all their traits, mortals’ best gift to the world was that of love and innocence. Though some of their race claimed to be warriors, they would never be matches for the evil likes of the strongest dark covens.
But their God had told mortals they could achieve anything if they had faith. They had the gift of belief because their lives were so short. Of course, they believed in miracles. Unfortunately, they’d never live long enough to see true miracles or the way the world really was.
He could sign on to safeguard those ideas. It was something that spoke to him as a true warrior. He’d be able to defend those who had no clue they needed protecting. And he might die doing so, without any observance on their part.
Mortals were a strange combination of emotions and traits. They scared easily. They sometimes maintained bravado, like the David and Goliath story from their bible. They were underdogs, but like in the beloved story, they never stopped fighting though the odds were against them. They sometimes allowed anger to interrupt their lifeline or justified its benefits when it really never helped them.
But their most stunning quality was that of compassion. On that, they could teach the world. They had the gift of living a life untainted, if they so choose. Trusting in their God when, in actuality, their unseen vampire brethren were responsible for much of their safety. They believed in the laws of nature more than the laws of vampire. Lionel found this humorous.
The delicate children’s choir made their way down the center aisle, each child holding an inverted paper cup with a white candle stuck into the base, so their little hands would be protected from any dripping wax. Their voices were soothing. He could make out every one of them, and it left him gentled, like listening to a babbling brook with water flowing over pebbles beneath the current. Each child had a distinctive series of tones, sometimes with thoughts laced in there, if the mind read was strong with them.
He remembered the night they said mass for Maria Monteleone, the only woman in Lionel’s life he ever loved. He’d gladly foregone any chance at having a sexual relationship with her just to be in her presence and had begged her to live on after the death of her mortal husband, to take the turning late in her life. It was always a difficult decision for every Golden, all born as mortal children, and given the option to take the turning ceremony beyond after puberty. Most chose to live a life of immortality. But she, like her predeceased husband before her, refused, smiled, touched his cheek with her dainty lavender scented palm, and shared a tear with him.
“Lionel, my trusted protector, I know what’s in your heart. I am given life enough with the knowledge that it’s there. No need for us to speak of it or demonstrate it to anyone but ourselves. Our eternal secret.”
He’d wanted to take her in his arms, but he would never shatter what they had. He was the only one she would take on as a protector, and the family knew Lionel would die doing so, if necessary. It was beautiful Maria who had saved his life by asking he and his two brothers be made vampire when she found all them left for dead after an attack by a dark coven lord who had obliterated their family.
The elder Monteleones had decided a trusted dark would do the turning, so that there would always be distance between Maria and her dear Lionel. He always wondered if she’d argued for another choice for him. Had she desired he be made in her own image or requested she be his maker? That question haunted Lionel for centuries.
He was there when she married Marcus and Paolo’s father, was there as she bore him the dozen children, and as she continually turned down her husband’s request to turn together. As a faithful husband, he dutifully remained at her side, mortal, sharing their short love and family.
Lionel was with her as her mortal life left her, on a starlit evening when the real stars were in her eyes, until they became fixed on him and then floated away. Like a piece of tissue paper, her spirit was gone, to become one with her God of Humans and her Mother Nature.
The hole in his heart was still the largest pain in his life. There wasn’t a day that went by when he didn’t wonder what would have happened if he’d chosen to take a more active role in that relationship with her or could have fought stronger for what he knew was something like an inter-species fating that never could be consummated.
He looked up at the bleeding figure of Christ nailed to a wooden cross, and he understood the man’s pain, the regrets he might have had, his need to protect and love his flock, and to die for them. The miracle had been sent, only to have the evil factions of the mortal crowd kill him off. He walked amongst his people understanding this, all the while he remained on earth.
Lionel hoped that he still lived somewhere they called Heaven. For he and his vampire brothers and sisters, death was usually just the end of a long, long life. There was no Heaven. There was no happily ever after in the clouds that sent rain and wind and sometimes covered the sun and the moon. It was just death, with nothing beyond.
And yet, as he listened to the beautiful chanting and allowed the scents of mortals to envelop him, he felt the heat of their bodies, and some of their thoughts and worries. He’d like to pretend he believed in a time that would last, where everything would be perfect and not end. Where love, like the love he had for Maria, would reign eternal.
He was hopeful. It was a silly thought, but it was something that warmed him from the inside, as if he was a mortal again, as if he still held that innocent light inside.

The wedding feast had begun. It was humorous that the Monteleones made a great show of eating to excess, though Lionel knew they’d be sick as dogs afterward. But they were stubborn about their secrecy, and as long as it was a mixed crowd of both trusted mortals and vampires of both species, the ruse would be continued. He stood with his arm around young Lucius while they watched his father, the handsome Paolo, and his new bride, Carabella, dance to the alluring viola music around a huge firepit stoked with logs the size of most humans. Paolo’s face was filled with the mirth Lionel had always envied.
Out of the blue, Lucius asked his question. “Do you miss your brother?”
Jeb had traced the dark coven lord, Dag, to a desert somewhere on the other side of the globe, to end him, saving the Lucius’ father’s life at the cost of his own.
“Of course, young prince. But his time had come. He’d had a wonderful and exciting life, keeping all you lot safe so your family can save the world. Don’t you know that?”
Lucius thought about that for a short time. His six years was not commensurate with his knowledge of the ways of the world. He’d seen a lot in his brief time as son to one brother, only to find out he belonged to the other.
“Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone?”
“Careful, young Lucius. I am bound to tell the truth, always.”
“I know it. But I want to tell you anyway.”
The boy’s eyes followed his new stepmom and his father across the ampetheater. Lionel remembered days when there were dark coven sacrifices held in this space. He remembered the blood rituals of those difficult times, shortly before Maria’s boys were grown. Although he was not sure, some of his relatives might have lost their lives in this very place. He shook off the vision and answered the boy. “You can certainly trust in my confidence.”
“I don’t miss my mother. I like that Cara is going to be my new mother. I think she’ll bring me a little brother or sister.”
Lionel was struck with this thought. Cara had been made, and the turning had taken place, which wasn’t always successful, just before her mortal death. Paolo had given her his own blood. Even so, he wasn’t sure Cara and Paolo could have offspring.
Lucius looked up at him. “Am I evil for saying this?”
Lionel knelt, placing his plate-sized hands on Lucius’ forearms and elbows, his face eye-level with the boy. “You are very lucky, young princeling. Your mortal aunt was forgiven for your mother’s demise because she protected all of you in that action. Maya would have not been the kind of mother you deserve. You deserve—”
He saw a group of young Goldens arrive, all of them in their teens and early twenties. Some had taken the turning, but several were clearly still mortal. He understood them to be friends since childhood.
As the group parted, some took to the dance floor. A tall dark-haired beauty swayed to the music, engaging the troupe of fiddlers who enjoyed her sultry dance moves. She was a curiously carefree mortal woman and Lionel couldn’t take his eyes off her. She threw her head back, swung her hips from side to side and sent her light, peach-colored, mortal arms reaching out to the sky. She pulled up her long curls, holding them atop her head as she swiveled her hips and turned in his direction.
When their eyes met, her mouth dropped open and she became motionless, though the lively music continued behind her.
Lionel’s heart leapt from his chest. Grateful she was not yet turned, he did not have to make some excuse if she heard the kettledrum in his chest that pumped his life force into overdrive. He resisted the urge to run to her, pick her up and carry her away, where he could satisfy all his questions.
Was this woman Maria, come back to life after three hundred years? The Maria he first knew before her marriage, her family, and her death?
The woman who stood across the bonfire from him looked identical to Maria.
Lucius wiggled free as Lionel had gripped his arms and gave gave his young charge welts.
“I’m sorry, son. I just thought I saw something. Forgive me if I hurt you.”
Lucius remained two steps away from him, watching, as Lionel rose to full height, slowly uncoiling his enormous body. His mouth dry, his fangs aching, his mind reeled from the erotic thoughts that came at him like a firehose.
All too suddenly, she was gone. She’d pulled a brightly colored shawl over her head and neck and ran into the heavy foliage at the edge of the clearing.
Lucius turned to see what he was focusing on.
“The young woman who was dancing over there, she should not have gone into the forest alone. I fear for her life,” he told his charge.
Lucius nodded. “Then go get her. Protect her, Lionel—or—” he peered up at him with a question on his face— “don’t you want to?”
“It isn’t that, but I’m to stay and protect you.”
This part was true. He caught the attention of his younger brother, Hugh—“huge” as he was known to the ladies he bedded—and angled his head towards the woods. Hugh had a lapse in judgment and traced, instead of running like a mortal. Lionel scanned the crowd, and no one seemed to have noticed.
            What am I looking for, brother? Hugh asked telepathically from behind the wooded surround.
            “The spitting image of Maria Monteleone. Tell me it isn’t so, brother. I pray to god she’s safe, but I also pray it isn’t her,” he whispered.
            “What?” asked Lucius.
            “Sorry, I was giving instructions to Hugh.”
            Seconds later, a group of the young Goldens came screaming from the woods, followed by a dark vamp dressed in black rags. He stopped at the site of the campfire. His flesh peeled, and part of his face had been scratched off. His tongue hung limply, dripping bloody saliva.
The fiddle music stopped as several males from the partygoers came within feet of his disgusting frame. Several in the crowd began to moan, and there were a few suppressed screams. Precious seconds passed while the dark vamp and his would-be attackers held the standoff. Lionel scanned the young Goldens and didn’t see any sign of the young Maria look-alike.
The dark vamp began to grin, his chest heaving. He fingered something around his neck Lionel had missed. It was the colorful shawl the young Golden had been wearing just moments before.
Lionel didn’t have time to look for his brother. He traced to the creature, hoisting him high up into the sky and tearing his head from his body out of eyesight of the crowd below. He threw the remnants of the vamp’s torso into another bonfire he found several miles away, at a distant farm. Before he let the body loose, he removed the shawl and stuffed it into his shirt.
Damages, brother? Are you there?
All is well, Lionel. She is alive, and safe. He was a rogue no coven to back him up. But it has us all shook.
He won’t be back, Lionel told his brother.
He traced to the edge of the celebration, then walked through dense foliage toward the circle of fire. They had brought the young Golden toward the heat, and a group of elder men surrounded her, so he could not see her fate. As he pressed himself towards the center, he could see the ugly, bloody bite on her neck and the rivulets of dark ooze descending down her chest, meeting between her breasts. Her eyes were dazed as she rolled her head back and cried.
Paolo was there, giving her first aid. Lionel sat next to her mother, who brought warm compresses and was whispering questions.
“Will she be infected, Paolo? She is still mortal and a virgin. Will this affect—?”
“No, Freya. She’s intact. He didn’t do a blood rape. She’s intact.”
“Oh, thank God,” the woman sighed, leaning into Lionel’s chest. Paolo gave him a frown.
“I have Lucius,” said Hugh from the back of the crowd.
Freya’s daughter stubbornly righted herself and accepted the salve that was applied to her neck taken from the kit Paolo carried with him 24/7. Her eyes swung around, perusing the crowd until she saw Lionel again, and their stares locked.
Her gaze lowered slightly, looking at something on Lionel’s chest.
“He’s gone, Madame,” he told her. “He will no longer trouble you, or any of us.”
But she was still peering at his chest. Looking down, he saw the remnants of her flowered shawl sticking out from the buttons on his white shirt. He drew it out, damp from the mixture of sweat and bloody detritus. He extended his arm and handed it to her.
She didn’t look at the shawl. As she grabbed the cloth, her eyes were fixed on Lionel like he was her lifeline, her future.
He was instantly hit with the cold facts of their state. She would most likely be not his lifeline, but a straight ticket to Hell itself.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thanksgiving is Better Than Sex?!?! by Marianne Stephens



  
How many of us think about sex when Thanksgiving rolls around? Aren't your days filled with menu planning, inviting dinner guests, food shopping, preparing some items ahead for "the big day", etc.?

I guess sex could be a great stress relief option, but who has time? Aren't you exhausted days before Thanksgiving, the day of (especially if you're feeding more than a small army of people), and for days after?

Some might even go so far as to say Thanksgiving dinner is better than sex...but, of course, that would never suit a romance reader or author! Men...those guys from "Mars"...might have a different opinion, however!

The following (minus some images and with a few modifications from me) comes from http://www.flowgo.com

TEN REASONS THANKSGIVING DINNER IS BETTER THAN SEX

10. You're sure to get at least one of your favorite dishes.

9. The turkey never suffers from modesty.

8. You can nibble before dinner even if Mom sees you.

7. You are expected to pass the dishes around.

6. There are always at least two kinds of desert, with or without whipped cream.

5. They give you the day off WITH pay to have dinner.

4. Thanksgiving dinner is a "sure" thing.

3. Seconds are encouraged. Take home, too!

2. You're expected to fall asleep after dinner. (for men)

And the number 1 reason why Thanksgiving dinner is better than sex:

1. You are EXPECTED to watch football BEFORE and AFTER dinner! (again, for men)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marianne Stephens
photo: Flickr:Ellie's photostream

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who's coming for dinner?

Got out the box of Thanksgiving stuff right after Veteran's Day and found someone had been hiding inside. Didn't want him to miss the holiday, so he's tucked among the very few Thanksgiving decorations I have. But it's always nice to have a surprise guest for dinner, right?



Thanksgiving is a holiday with a lot of history behind it in the United States, but also a lot of history that’s just…wrong. I get a kick out of that in a way. It shows the organic change and development in a society. With a government that’s only a bit over 200 years old and made of a hodge-podge of cultures, it really is kind of fascinating when you ask a handful of people what Thanksgiving means to them and get a dozen different answers/

Almost any school kid knows that the “first” Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims and the friendly Native Americans after the first successful harvest back in 1621. That much is true—the Plymouth settlers did have a feast with their new neighbors, but that was far from the first such celebration in the Americas. The Spanish had been doing it for a while, as had the Jamestown settlers. In a deeply religious era, this should come as no surprise. Many harvest festivals and days of giving thanks occurred in all the years to follow, but it wasn’t universally acknowledged for centuries. Washington proclaimed one in 1789, and again in 1795. After that, it was a sporadic thing, not taking hold on a permanent basis until Lincoln’s presidency in 1863.

The meal, too has varied over the years, and many of the foods that would have been there—turkey, quite possibly, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and corn are still staples of our holiday fare today. Venison—well, not quite so much, unless you’ve a hunter in the family. Oysters? Only if you’re in New England, or put them in the stuffing. Eels? Lobster? Not so much. Potatoes hadn’t made their way up from Central America yet, and the custardy pumpkin pie wouldn’t come along for years. Thanksgiving traditions became largely regional, with large elements coming from whatever immigrant cultures made up a local population. The Thanksgiving dinner as we know it, really didn’t evolve until the twentieth century—helped along by Norman Rockwell and others who wanted to boost American morale and sense of community during the Depression and World War II.

Other traditions are even newer, but have become a vital part of the day. Football. Parades. The big gear-up for the Christmas shopping season. The religious origins of the holiday are important to some and not so much to others. Many see it as a day to get together and celebrate with family, others find time to relax with friends. Most folks I know agree that no matter your religious beliefs, it’s good to take a day once in a while to think about the positive things in life. While we all have our problems, taking one day to focus on the good can be a badly needed wake-up call.

My own Thanksgiving is low-key. There wpn't be a lot of extended family, just my kids and grandkids, along with a few folks who are family-by choice.There will be a ginormous turkey dinner, cooked by my amazing husband for whomever shows up. There might be a parade, if I turn it on for the grandkids. There might be football, but Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer are more likely. There will be laughter and time spent together. And that’s all I need.

Harvest blessings to you and yours.

Cindy Spencer Pape

Saturday, November 10, 2018

HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? How To Avoid Telephone Scams

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa


CAN YOU HEAR ME?
You yell at the telemarketer on the telephone, “How the #$%^ did you people get my private telephone number?”
Then you slam down the receiver and, swearing again, flop on the couch with a migraine headache coming to a full boil at the back of your head.
Has this ever happened to you?
Whether we like it or not, any time we give personal information to anyone-- to social media, businesses / financial institutions, even the doctor’s office--we potentially give away a means of contact for someone who wants to sell you something or scam you. Often we divulge the information because the conditions of obtaining the product or service require that we cough it up and spit it out on their application form. Tough apples. Try telling a doctor's receptionist you won't give her your Social Security number.
DID YOU READ THE SMALL PRINT? 
We also receive in the mail (or it’s written in fine print somewhere on the application) disclosure notices which inform us how our private information is shared. Federal law allows consumers the ability to limit some, but not all, sharing. To invoke the limitations, you must opt out by signing the documents the company sends you.
Do you read the small print? Do you sign and mail off the disclosure forms every year for every credit card, financial institution, vendor, etc. providing the option? The consequences, whether you opt out or not, seem to be a deluge of unwanted telephone calls from telemarketers, from business doing construction or something else in your neighborhood and want to drop by, from charities, from politicians, from everyone pursuing a cause and, most dangerous of all, from scammers.
Occasionally, we get phone calls from people we know or do business with.
TELEPHONE SCAMS AND ROBOCALLS

The Federal Trade Commission tells us robocalls -- automated telephone calls that deliver a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company -- are the number one complaint they receive.
In 2017 alone there were 7,157,370 complaints filed against robocallers and telemarketers. And how many of us have never filed a complaint?
RULES OF THUMB
There are a number of ways to protect yourself. Remember, both the telemarketer and  scammer want you to pick up the phone and talk, and they don’t want to give you time to think.
Don’t Answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize. People with legitimate reasons for calling will leave a message.
Don’t give away financial and sensitive personal information (address, date of birth, bank information, ID numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden name, etc.) over the phone, and be careful when and where you do give it.
Don’t confirm this type of information even if the unknown caller has it.
Don’t believe your caller ID: Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
●Don’t talk. If you suspect a scam, Hang up. Anything you say to a telemarketer, including legitimate ones, that is, not a scam, will end up written down in your file. Telemarketers uses the "Three Nos" rule: Don't let the customer go until they have said "no" three times during the phone call.
●Don’t say the word “Yes.”
Listen for key phrases to spot scammers.
Be cautious about where and to whom your phone number is available. Not a good idea on social media.
Turn the tables. Ask the caller for more information. If the caller is reluctant to comply, they’re likely trying to scam you.
Don’t call back. Even though you want to find out who it is and bust their balls, you could still be giving them information they want.
Check your bank and credit card statements regularly, especially after getting a suspicious call.
Don’t send money anywhere for an emergency situation, unless you have verified the situation and the solicitor.
Don’t send money by prepaid card or wire transfer (which are difficult to track) to someone you don’t know.
Check out charities before you contribute, and don’t make commitments over the phone. Even the legitimate ones will pressure you, often into making a larger contribution than you want to give.
     ● Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at
      https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

TELEPHONE SHOPPING
Now days many people order merchandise and services over the phone. There are ways in which you can protect yourself from scams for this, but they are different than calls coming to your phone uninvited. In this case you are calling them and should have some reason to believe you are calling a legitimate business.
Be skeptical about free trial offersSome companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
Ask about shipping and handling costs before you commit to a purchase.
Don’t let yourself be rushed.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise: Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or even a job. They might say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear. 
Consider how you pay: Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

TYPES OF TELEPHONE SCAMS

With the Holiday Season fast approaching, the telemarketers and scammers will be out there in full force. It helps to know the types of scams so you can recognize them. It's easy to fall prey -- I know because I have several times.
IRS

This is perhaps one of the most common scams and usually targets the elderly. The “campaign” begins around tax time. You’ll receive a phone call from the “IRS” telling you you’re receiving your final notice for money owed. If you do not pay this money you’re threatened with legal action, jail time, huge fines, or deportation. These scammers know people fear the taxman and hope that their impulse is to call the fake number back and rectify the situation.

Tech support

This scam, growing in strength, targets those who are not computer savvy. You’ll get a call pretending to be Microsoft Support and they will inform you that your computer is compromised and you need to download special software. The caller needs your credit card information through this scenario.
To prove it, the caller might ask you to check your Windows event log viewer, which is likely to contain thousands of records about various errors, most or all of which are actually nothing to worry about. If you bite, the caller then asks you to log onto a Web service that lets him or her take control of your computer. The goal of this phone scam is to install malware that can steal your personal information or trick you into enrolling in phony computer maintenance or warranty programs.
Sweepstakes and Lotteries

As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a call out of the blue that you’ve been selected for  a “Free” or “low cost” vacations or have won a lottery is a pretty big stretch. Sweepstakes callers claiming you’ve won something, can cost a bundle in hidden costs.
Call Center Fraud

Scam artists spend hours calling the customer service centers of banks, insurance companies and other institutions, posing as people like you, to try to access accounts. That’s because reps only ask a couple of simple authentication questions—e.g. your mother’s maiden name or your Social Security number— before you can transfer money or do whatever.
The neighbor ploy
Remember, the scammer wants you to pick up. Your area code and prefix are displayed, so the call appears to be from a neighbor or nearby business. Fewer people block local numbers, and the fake number makes it hard for law enforcement to track.
The call is from your own phone number

In this scam, the scammer can simulate your own phone number on the caller ID. Curiosity, if nothing else, may cause you to answer. These scammers can maneuver around any call-blocking system you’ve set up.
The one-ring rip-off
Criminals sometimes program auto-dialers to make repeated calls to your phone, each disconnecting after just one ring with the intention of making you so frustrated that you call back the displayed number to find out who it is.

Loan Scams

Some loans are borderline scams in the first place, so it’s almost no surprise that they’d also be used as a cover for phone scams. Advance fee loans, payday loans, credit card protection and offers to lower your credit card interest rates are some of the popular scams.

Debt Collector Scams

Debt collector scams are popular because the high rate of debt in our economy. The best thing to do is to ask for the caller’s information, including company name, and to call them back. Also, take note that if you send a written letter to a debt collector asking them to stop calling you, they are legally required to do so according to most of my references.

Warrant and Jury Duty Scams

Whether it’s the DEA, FBI, sheriff, or local police department, warrant scams are designed to make victims panic and then give up their personal information over the phone. The scammer will often state that you’ve missed jury duty, have outstanding warrants, or perhaps defrauded a bank, and attempt to get payment information. Any law enforcement demanding money is something that does not happen legally over the phone.
● Credit Card Security Number Scams
As we’ve mentioned, it’s not a smart idea to give out credit card information over the telephone. Though it may seem harmless, even giving out the three-digit security code on the back of your credit card (also known as the CVV number) can lead to being scammed.
● Medical Scams
Another scam targeting the elderly related to health care. Medically related phone scams usually demand payment on “unpaid” bills from a hospital, doctor, or services like X-ray.
Stranded in a Foreign Country
Many of these scams come by e-mail, but some by telephone, and I got taken by one of these. Mine was one of the standards: a call from a frantic grandchild who is in difficulty (arrested, in a car accident, or something they need money for immediately). In my case the caller knew my grandson’s name, which took me off balance, and I believed him. I did get my money back, but I was so lucky.
Another version encourages recipients to send money or account information to the person supposedly robbed and "stuck" in a foreign country without money, or similarly in need.
Extended car warranties
Scammers find out what kind of car you drive, and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced — or worthless — plans.
Charitable Causes and Disaster Relief
It’s a sad state of affairs that requests for recent disaster relief contributions are often scams, and they are common over the phone. If you want to contribute, you should call the charity. News Channels on TV usually tell you how to make a donation.
SPOTTING THE SCAM
Sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference between a scam call and a real one. Informing yourself is most important: the following is advice given by all of the sources I reviewed.
     ● A real company will not call you out of the blue and ask for personal information.
     ● If a caller asks “What number did I call?” ask “What number did you dial?”
     ● If a caller asks “Is this Mr. Brown?” answer with the word “speaking”, not “yes.”
     ● The IRS will never contact you by phone; they will send a certified letter.
     ● Technical Support will never call you first about technical problems. You call them.
     ● Companies like Microsoft would never call on the phone.

Watch out for the following phrases. If you hear a line that sounds similar, say "no, thank you," hang up. Never respond with “Yes”. That can be manipulated to make it sound like you agreed to something.
     ●You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
     ●You've won one of five valuable prizes.
     ●You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
     ●This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than anywhere else.
     ●You have to make up your mind right away.
     ●You trust me, right?
     ●You don't need to check our company with anyone.
     ●We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.
     ●“Can you hear me?” or “Are you the lady of the house?”
     ● “We’re working in your neighborhood, and you’ve been selected for a free paint job.”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
●Join the National “Do Not Call” List
Register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. It won’t stop unsolicited calls, but it will stop most. Ones that still come, you should report to the Registry. http://www.donotcall.gov
●File a complaint with the FTC
Report your experience to the FTC online https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
●Download a blocking APP
A good way to block calls on both land lines and cell phones is to use Google Voice https://voice.google.com/about.  You have the option of sending them directly to voicemail, treating all their calls as spam, or blocking them entirely. If you don't have a Google Voice account and you live in the US, you can sign up at
Post Offenders on Community Call Sites
800Notes is a free Reverse Phone Number Lookup database built by its users. Our strength is in our numbers - by sharing pieces of information each of us has we are putting together a free and public phone number directory with information no other service can provide. https://800notes.com/
▪ Find out who is calling and why. Look up and read previous report by other users.
▪Report telemarketing calls
▪Report telephone fraud
▪Check out a business
This Caller
ThisCaller.com helps you to find unknown caller information by using free reverse phone lookup.   https://alternativeto.net/software/thiscaller/http:/www.thiscaller.com/
USCallers
USCallers.com is a free, reverse phone lookup service for both cell and landline phone numbers. https://alternativeto.net/software/uscallers/
This site can direct you to other sites for looking up telemarketing and scam callers.
http://www.moreofit.com/similar-to/800notes.com/Top_10_Sites_Like_800notes/
Contact your cable or internet service
Many companies, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have introduced services that alert you an incoming robocall may be from a scammer or spammer. In some cases, such services are free, but for a few dollars more per month you can get a more robust version that can block the robocalls from ringing on your number.

AUTHOR R. ANN SIRACUSA
Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue

Sources:https://www.robokiller.com/blog/how-to-identify-a-scam-call/https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0076-phone-scamsttps://relayservice.gov.au/faqs/how-do-i-know-a-call-is-genuine-and-not-a-scam/https://www.consumerreports.org/consumer-protection/how-to-identify-a-phone-scam/https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2017/no-talk-phone-scams.htmlhttp://backgroundchecks.org/reverse-phone-lookup/phone-scamshttps://who-calledme.com/https://www.trapcall.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-fake-calls/https://www.revealname.com/free-phone-number-lookup-no-chargehttps://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-things-you-can-do-avoid-fraudhttps://mbtskoudsalg.com/explore/phone-clipart-guy/ (free clip art)https://drexel.edu/it/help/viruses/scams/stuckforeignscams/https://www.consumerreports.org/robocalls/best-ways-to-fight-robocalls/https://lifehacker.com/im-a-telemarketer-heres-how-to-get-rid-of-me-1540911401https://support.google.com/voice/answer/7207482?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en



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