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Tax Time Scams

Tax Time Scams

The phone rings. You pick it up and the caller identifies himself as being from the government, contacting you on a problem with your taxes. Your heart races. You begin to wonder what could possibly be wrong? You picture investigations, fines, and trouble! All those thoughts begin to spin in your head while you try to listen to what he is saying. When you start to ask questions, the caller becomes aggressive and threatens serious consequences—police, criminal charges, and jail—if you don’t provide specific information and make a payment right away. That is called a telephone phishing scam. Those scams are all too common during tax preparation season. The more sophisticated telephone scammers might even have a telephone call display ID that looks official, so please be very careful. Or you might have been contacted through a very official-looking email message that demands personal information or even payment. That is an email phishing scam. Bogus requests can also be sent through the regular mail. Scammers use the pretext of a government investigation to obtain your personal and financial information. That puts you at risk for identity theft and the loss of your money as they then access your bank accounts and credit cards. The scammers can even present a positive ruse—asking for personal information because they claim you qualify for a tax refund or a special benefit. Remember: Official government requests for payment or notifications of refunds are typically sent through the regular mail — and they already have your social insurance number, date of birth, and your direct deposit information, if you have previously established that payment option....
Times of Crisis:  The Opportunity to Dream Newer Visions

Times of Crisis: The Opportunity to Dream Newer Visions

Times of crisis bring out the best in us and the worst in us. In the last edition of Maturity Matters, we discussed how to protect ourselves from a number of new Covid-19 Scams introduced to exploit and take advantage of our friends and families. This edition looks at the other end of the spectrum – the opportunity to demonstrate the vision of our better angels. Shortly after preparing the article on the scams, I was invited to participate in an email chain that shared uplifting messages with other women. Historically, I have chosen to not respond to these types of chain requests. Something caused me to pause this time. If I would spend many hours researching how to protect folks from the worst of us, why would I not invest the same attention and energy to celebrate, inspire, and share the best in us? I made a leap of faith and decided to participate. While I forwarded to others on the list an impassioned video message on gratitude, I received, (thanks to Melanie Rupp) the following poem: Written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara: “And people stayed at home And read books And listened And they rested And did exercises And made art and played And learned new ways of being And stopped and listened More deeply Someone meditated, someone prayed Someone met their shadow And people began to think differently And people healed. And in the absence of people who Lived in ignorant ways Dangerous, meaningless, and heartless, The earth also began to heal And when the danger ended and People found themselves They grieved for the dead...