To help ensure you don’t get scammed out of your hard-earned money, here’s an overview of how to detect and prevent some of the most common types of consumer fraud.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, social insurance number, and bank account information, for financial gain.
A few ways to safeguard your information include:
• Using complex, secure passwords on all your online accounts
• Shredding credit card receipts, utility bills, and bank account statements
• Leaving important ID documents at home in a safe place
If you don’t know why someone is requesting your personal information, it’s always a good idea to ask them for clarification.
Debt collection fraud
This type of fraud happens when scammers pose as collection agencies and demand payment of fake outstanding debts.
Fraudulent debt collectors will:
• Withhold information from you, including the exact amount of the so-called debt and the name of the creditor
• Pressure you to pay with cash, a prepaid debit card, or by money transfer
• Ask for personal information, such as your bank account or social insurance number
Never share any financial or personal information unless you’re 100 percent certain you’re dealing with a real collection agency.
This kind of fraud occurs when phony fundraisers request donations for a charitable organization.
Fraudulent charities will:
• Pressure you to donate immediately
• Only accept cash, gift cards, and wire transfers
• Refuse to provide detailed information about the organization
To avoid a charity scam, ask for information in writing before you donate.
Lastly, you should always trust your gut instinct. If something feels off, it probably is.
NASA unveils plans to save earth from asteroids
In 1998, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and other brave souls blasted into space and used oil drilling equipment to blow up an asteroid barreling towards Earth.
That same year, Elijah Wood discovered another asteroid bound for our planet. Fortunately, Robert Duvall blew that one up.
Of course, we’re talking about sci-fi movies, but asteroids are a real threat. Thankfully, NASA has plans (not involving movie stars) for dealing with them.
Over the summer, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an 18-page report titled the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” outlining steps to identify and deflect asteroids and how to react should one hit.
Currently, NASA’s plans for warding off asteroids center on smashing spacecraft into asteroids at high speed. The goal isn’t to destroy the asteroid but simply to redirect it. If an asteroid’s course can be changed even a tiny bit, it could cause it to harmlessly shoots past Earth.
The United States isn’t alone in defending Earth against asteroids. China has announced plans to use the moon as a planetary defense platform. The Chinese plan would involve installing telescopes on the Moon’s north and south pole, along with kinetic weapons. However, the prospect of placing weapons on the moon has drawn criticism.
Asteroids can travel over 15 miles per second (54,000 miles per hour). An asteroid just 500 feet in diameter could destroy a large city. An asteroid a quarter of a mile in diameter could cause mass extinctions. NASA, among other organizations, already scans for asteroids. However, experts estimate that only about 40 percent of larger asteroids have been mapped. Many smaller asteroids also haven’t been mapped but don’t pose as grave a threat.
Fortunately, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Branch has labeled the likelihood of a serious asteroid impact as unlikely but does note that such an impact would be of high consequence.
Buy local in every industry
When you think about buying local, you probably conjure up images of a friendly farmer selling vegetables and jams on a country road or a quaint farmers’ market with a friendly atmosphere. Although these examples illustrate one aspect of buying local, it goes much further.
Have you thought about these sectors?
Buying locally isn’t limited to specific industries. When it comes to supporting your local economy, various companies would be happy to do business with you, including:
• Telecommunications providers
• Insurance companies
• Supermarket chains
• Big box stores
• Hardware stores
• Video game developers
• Engineering firms
• Furniture retailers
Why are these important?
Even if you don’t associate large companies with buying locally, they play a significant role in the economic vitality of your region. That’s why it’s essential to know where your products and services come from, whether you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables or doing business with an insurance company, internet provider, or appliance store.
Remembering the comic strip loved by millions
If you are one of the millions of people who enjoyed the Peanuts comic strip and its star Charlie Brown, here are some odd facts you might not know.
Creator Charles Schulz, who started the strip in 1947, originally called it Li’l Folks. But when the strip was syndicated in 1950, the name was changed to Peanuts. Schulz didn’t especially like it.
Charlie Brown’s beloved beagle Snoopy was modeled after Schulz’s pointer dog, Spike. Snoopy had five siblings from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. All of them made appearances during the years the strip ran.
One character was so unpopular with readers that she had a short run. The brash Charlotte Braun, the counterpoint to soft-spoken Charlie Brown, appeared in only ten strips and disappeared without explanation.
Another character was frequently mentioned as the love interest of Charlie Brown. She was called the Little Red-Haired Girl. She was never given a name or seen in the strip. She appeared in silhouette in one of the strips in 1998. She was based on Schulz’s unrequited love for a real red-haired woman.
Apple orchards make fun outings
Does anything taste better than a crisp, ripe apple fresh from the tree? Not really, and unless you have trees in your backyard, the only way to get a just-picked apple is to visit your local orchard and do it yourself.
Decide when you should plan your visit. Earlier is better — many orchards are picked clean before the official end of the season because it’s such a popular activity. You should also consider when different varieties will be available. Call your preferred orchard or visit their website to see if they have that information available. Most orchards are only open to the public on weekends, so don’t count on stopping by on a weekday.
Before you bring home more apples than you can possibly eat, consider how much you really want and what you might do with them. Are they all destined for lunch boxes? Is there an apple pie recipe or three you can try? Do you plan to cook a bushel down to make homemade applesauce?
When you head to the orchard, visit only the designated rows of trees that have been opened for picking. Look at apples closest to the outside of the three — those ripen first. The right color depends on the variety, and the orchard may provide pictures for reference. If not, just look them up on your phone.
When you start picking, lift the apple away from the branch and give it a little twist to release it. Don’t pull — you want the stem to remain on the fruit to help it last longer. Inspect the apple for any nicks or bruises, then place it gently (don’t drop it) into your basket or bag. If you pick an apple and then accidentally drop it on the ground, it’s still fine to pick up, but don’t collect any apples that were already on the ground.
A beginner’s guide to wild turkey hunting
If you’re interested in taking on the challenge of wild turkey hunting, start off on the right foot with these proven tips.
• Study up. Get acquainted with the hunting regulations in your area, such as permit requirements, hunting hours, and authorized equipment.
• Get to know your calls. You can purchase many different turkey calls, including the slate pan, swing-lid box, or diaphragm. However, you don’t need them all. It is important to practice with them and rely on the one you use best.
• Practice shooting. Pulling off a fatal shot on a turkey is not always easy. Therefore, it’s best to practice on life-size models.
• Observe. Watch for turkeys at the end of the day. They roost in trees, which can help you locate them at dawn. Feathers and droppings under mature trees are excellent clues as to where you can find them.
• Use decoys. Two or three decoys are ideal for attracting turkeys. They can give you the window of opportunity you need to take your shot.
• Blend into the background. Turkeys have remarkable vision and hearing. Consequently, show as little skin as possible, and keep still. Hiding in a bird blind with a camouflage pattern should work well.
• Have patience. Don’t change your location too quickly if your calls don’t get a response. The silence may not necessarily mean there aren’t turkeys nearby.
Best of luck on your hunt!
In the U.S., wild turkey hunting is regulated by individual states. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) provides a guide to wild turkey hunting in each state and updates it annually. Visit nwft.org to learn about season dates, bag limits, license costs, and other details.
The first day of autumn is September 22
Autumn is an invisible bridge that begins with the fading delights of summer and slowly reaches into the world of winter.
It’s when most crops are harvested and when the days grow shorter and cooler, especially in northern latitudes. September is the month of the Harvest Moon, a full moon that allows farmers to work later and have more time to bring in their crops. Gardens are ripped up, but rows of turnips, potatoes, and onions are planted.
Children have strapped on their backpacks and trekked back to school but take time out to select pumpkins, carve their Jack-o’-lanterns and throw themselves into the adventure of Halloween.
This is when tourists hit the road to find, photograph, and enjoy the color palette of fall foliage. These wanderers are often referred to as “leaf peepers.”
Apple trees are heavy with fruit, apple cider stands begin to pop up, and apple pie is a staple on many menus. Family outings to the nearest orchard are common, and kids can pick their own apples and even watch apple cider being made. Getting a taste of the fresh cider is part of the fun.
Tailgate parties hail the arrival of football season. Bonfires proliferate, with some of them turning into traditional hot dog roasts, complete with toasting marshmallows to make s’mores and augmented by a singalong.
Corn mazes offer a scary but exciting escapade, and hayrides are enjoyed by all ages. Scarecrows and cornstalks become part of decorating while squirrels scurry around burying nuts.
It’s autumn. Breathe deeply and enjoy the precious days. As Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”