The Word on the Week

Stealers and Scammers

The old cry “Watch out thieves about” is not much help in this day and age. Thieves have got a lot more sophisticated. Holiday-makers are especially vulnerable. With language difficulties you cannot be sure of the terms of the deal but you can be sure if it’s too good to be true – it usually is too good to be true! Smartphones produce smart thieves who can spot the latest versions at 100 metres. But the latest breed of ‘tecky’ thieves come from the orient. They are very plausible on the phone offering to make your computer work faster.  The treatment I got last week involved the use of the RUN facility on the Start menu of my computer climaxing in the entering of in the command line. The final task is for them to allocate you with a 6 digit code which when entered gives them access to your data files. It’s like giving away the keys of the safe! Challenging the person on the line that he is scamming initiates a dialogue which rapidly becomes vindictive as the scammer realised his prey is escaping from his trap!  In a week when the news has been full of phone tapping by journalists in search of salacious material to sell their newspapers we have all become perhaps a little more circumspect in the way we store information. The age of ‘Big Brother is watching you’ has moved to ‘reading your text messages’ and ‘searching for your bank account numbers’! What has the Bible to comment on all this? So what have we got that a thief might want and what have we hidden that a scammer might get his hands on? The prophet Isaiah looked at it from God’s perspective when he wrote about what went on in our minds. “Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” (Chapter 29 verse 15). When St Paul was being cross-examined in front of the Roman Governor he answered with what could have been his life’s motto. “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” (Acts Chapter 24 verse 16) The Governor could see his conscience was clear before men but we have to go to the Book of Hebrews to find the secret of his clear conscience before God. “ How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” The scammers would have found nothing incriminating or of value in St Paul’s computer and the hackers could find his texts in the Bible! Perhaps that’s how we too should live?