Our opinion: Be wary. Be suspicious

There was another one just this week, another in the never-ending supply of scams that seem to be increasing in frequency thanks to the anonymity of electronic communication.

In the latest, brought to the public’s attention by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, people searching the Internet receive a message apparently from the U.S. Department of Justice telling them they had viewed a flagged prohibited site and were being fined $450, and here is where you send the money.

Scams like this, particularly delivered through the Internet, can look very authentic. Putting together a graphic with official-looking logos and insignia is an easy job for a middle school youngster, let alone a flim-flam artist.

It used to be official looking envelopes and printed material that came in the mail that targeted the elderly in particular for donations to worthwhile-sounding, yet bogus charities. Then came phone calls offering great deals that were too good to be true.

Now, add to the venues for cheating, the vast, fertile land of the World Wide Web.

The key to protecting yourself from a great many scammers is to think carefully about any unsolicited communication you receive that involves a request for any personal information, an offer that seems too good to be true (it is), or some communication from a government entity that requests or demands such information. As reliant as many of us have become on the Internet, governments still rely on paper for official communications.

If an agency wants to contact you and you haven’t already registered for on-line communications, it will send you a letter.

Be wary. Be suspicious.

The bad guys are out there, and they would like nothing better than to use your identity and clean you out. And, in the age of electronic communications, they can do it in a matter of minutes.