We already curse those who scam the rest of us ... stealing, cheating, taking advantage of those of us brought up to be open and honest and trusting.

But there has to be a special place in hell for scammers who use a pandemic to hatch their schemes -- maybe a place with thistles and broken glass and intermittent electrical jolts.

The IRS inspector general is asking people to report any suspicious activity as the feds deliver $1,200 payments to millions of Americans to bolster the economy and help households with the burden of unemployment.

Payments have started hitting bank accounts and that, of course, means scammers are looking for ways to cheat us through identity theft schemes or just simply stealing checks from mailboxes.

“I understand scammers are already contacting innocent Americans by impersonating IRS or Treasury Department officials, offering so-called COVID-19-related assistance that requires the sharing of personal financial information,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in a letter to the inspector general earlier this month, as reported in the Thursday edition.

The payments, including up to $500 per child, go to those earning less than $75,000 as an individual, including recipients of Social Security, disability and veterans benefits.

Those in that population, including the elderly, less educated and less tech savvy, are most likely to fall victim, it was reported. And they’re the most likely to really need the money.

One of the problems is that the pandemic means a lot of people who aren’t that familiar with the internet are now using apps to communicate with family and friends and ordering online. That gives scammers more opportunity to find easy targets.

-- Just remember: IRS and Treasury Dept. representatives are not going to call you up or message you and ask for personal information and Social Security information.

-- Avoid checking on links sent in emails or text messages that appear to be from the IRS.

-- The IRS won’t contact people by telephone, email, social media or text messages to ask for personal information.


Thumbs Up: Our customers have been very supportive of our new nameplate and page design and of our plans to revert to a five-day-per-week publishing schedule … though this will be the first real test: no Sunday or Monday deliveries.

Admittedly, we have some fine tuning to do.

One thing that we’ll change for next week is the weekend comics lineup. You should find the color comics section that used to come out on Sunday in this edition. Starting next week, that section will be expanded to six pages and you’ll find the leftover black-and-white comics that used to run on Saturday and Monday included.


Ugh: Some stuff that someone stole from someone else and sent to me. Not my fault.

-- My wife was singing in the house. I was sitting out on the porch so the neighbors wouldn’t think I was torturing her.

-- Herman says to Bill: Yesterday, my wife ran away with my best friend, Mike.” His feelings a little hurt, Bill asks, “Since when is Mike your best friend?” Herman: “Since yesterday.”

-- My wife just stopped and got into my face and said, “You weren’t even listening, were you?” I thought, “That’s a pretty strange way to start a conversation.”

-- I told my wife she should embrace her mistakes. She hugged me.

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