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Better Business Bureau: Don't ride with strangers

July 2, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.


BY ALAN BLIGH

When children are growing up, we tell them, "Don't get into a car with a stranger." Well, last week we came across a story of a senior citizen in Victoria that did just that, got into a car with a stranger.

According to the story, a man was going around the senior housing authority apartments telling seniors they would get $200/month if they would come with him to Houston for some sort of medical exam. One lady took him up on the offer. He told the elderly lady not to tell her doctor she was getting the exam. He also bought groceries for her.

The elderly lady got in the vehicle with the man and he took her somewhere? Her neighbor was worried and called the Area Agency on Aging. The lady made it home OK and refused to talk with anyone about the issue, including the police. AAA reported the situation to the police. No one knows what the motive was for this activity.

Identity theft? Maybe.

Please caution your seniors to be on alert and call 911 if they see any strangers in their neighborhood or people offering deals that sound too good to be true. I wish to acknowledge AAA of the Golden Crescent for their swift and diligent work on this case. Victoria is fortunate to have such a caring organization to watch after the interests of our seniors.

You may have already seen or read about this scam, but it is new. Better Business Bureau warns consumers of phony callers claiming to be from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Scammers are calling Texas citizens demanding immediate payment on a red-light safety camera ticket, or risk an arrest warrant being issued.

Callers demand payment on an overdue ticket and ask for credit card information, Social Security numbers and other personal information.

While DPS does encourage all violators to responsibly handle their citations, they do not collect traffic fines or oversee red-light cameras.

The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to proceed with caution when it comes to calls from unknown sources. Avoid providing personal information. Do not provide or confirm any bank account, Social Security number, credit card or other personal information.

Using the name of a well recognizable agency, such as the DPS, Social Security, Medicare, IRS, etc. is very common. Why can't it be stopped? Most calls are from overseas and are out of the reach of the "long arm of the law."

In an effort to simplify the message it gives the public on healthy eating, the federal government has unveiled a new "MyPlate" icon to replace the complicated and confusing food pyramid: It's a plate divided into four sections, with fruits and vegetables on one half and protein and grains on the other.

Supposedly, the new icon is simple and easy to understand, with more emphasis placed on fruits and vegetables. This is certainly an improvement over the last, three dimensional pyramid that was introduced a couple years ago.

Just be careful that you note the definition of a "cup" - it seems to change depending on one's age and the food being considered. You can find the new webpage for this endeavor at choosemyplate.gov. That's www.choosemyplate.gov.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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