IRS Phone Scam

Lately I have been getting an increased number of IRS Phone Scams. As I mentioned in previous posts the IRS first sends out a letter if there is an issue with your taxes. You can contact the IRS directly to determine if there is an issue with your taxes.  Here is the video from the IRS that discusses these scams:

Here is a video by the Victoria Police Department where they talk to the actual scammers (warning about the language):

Some of the things you can do:

  • Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number.
  • Hang up immediately.
  • You can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the FTC
  • If they send an email: do not reply, do not open attachments, do not click on any link inside the email. You can forward the full email with headers to: phishing@irs.gov.

 


Links:

Microsoft Scams

In the past few days I have received an increase in these Microsoft Scam phone calls. Again the best thing to do is not answer the phone. The second best is to just hang up on them.

Roseylinns Reflections

With the release of Windows 10 there has been an increase in Windows Scams.  There is a new email scam going around to and the Microsoft Call Center scam calls have increased.  I have noticed that since the release I have gotten two phone calls from the “Microsoft Call Center” in a short time.  Also in the news recently there was an alert about a bogus email claiming that Microsoft was upgrading users to Windows 10 via email.  Anyone who does click on the link in the email can find their computers taken over by the scammers and will be forced to pay a ransom to get it released back to them.

On August 16, 2015 I got another one of those Microsoft Call Center Scam phone calls.  It came in at 9:14 P.M. my time, which puts it 14 minutes outside the allowed call time mandated by the FTC.  The…

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Ant Conference

A tiny sugar ant conference on the counter:

TinyAntConference.jpg

A method for getting rid of sugar ants:

  1. Set out a small container with maple syrup.  I’ve put mine in the general location where I’d seen them before.
  2. Wait a few days for the colony to get used to the maple syrup location.
  3. Add ant poison to the maple syrup.  Leave on the counter a few days.
  4. Clean up by wiping down the counter with ammonia to remove their pathway.

Hopefully by doing so a larger portion of their colony will die off.

A Voting Hoax

A recent hoax circulating online, and in a flyer on a college campus, suggests that voters can vote via social media.  The flyer or online image says that in order to vote for Hillary Clinton voters need to type “Hillary” with the hashtag “PresidentialElection” on November 8 in order to vote for her.  No state allows for voting via social media through the use of a hashtag.

In order to vote in an election a voter has to fill out an official ballot either at a polling location or through absentee voting.  Thirty-two states allow voters who qualify to submit a ballot electronically (via fax, email or web portal).  The majority of those thirty-two states restrict the electronic submission of a ballot to voters who fall under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.  The vlogbrothers put together short videos for how to vote in every state.  This is their video that discusses the project:

The list of videos can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7SMwipBlDwBPEwxq8QD8sw/videos.  There are a few of their videos toward the end of this post.  Check with your states Secretary of State or local election official for up to date information:  https://www.usa.gov/election-office

As this political ad by Save the Day shows the outcome of any election is determined by those who took the time to register to vote, and then voted.

With the negative rhetoric coming from one of the candidates this election it might be tempting to take a selfie of yourself voting and/or the ballot.  In some states it is illegal to use a camera, cellphone, or electronic device in a voting booth; while others allow for using an electronic device as an aid in voting only.  Where some states allow you to take a picture of your ballot; they prohibit sharing that ballot with anyone else.  Check with your states Secretary of State on whether it is legal, illegal, falls into a cloudy area, or is just not a good idea to snap the picture.


How to Vote Videos:

Alaska: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZd7Rp4m8gs)

Military and Overseas: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg5Qh4anBZE)

New York: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K5a_NmSoYE)

Pennsylvania: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMJQ5pqiRNA)

The complete list of videos can be found here:    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7SMwipBlDwBPEwxq8QD8sw/videos


Registration Deadlines:

There are only 12 Days until November 8.  Below are the remaining states with upcoming registration deadlines*.  If your state is not listed the deadline has passed.  A search for “how to register to vote” in any search engine will bring up information about how to get registered and the requirements.  Check with your states Secretary of State or local election official for up to date information:  https://www.usa.gov/election-office

  • Alaska
    • In a Presidential Election year, for November General Election only, you can register to vote on Election day.
  • Colorado
    • Online- Oct 31
    • You may also register in person on Election Day.
    • Mail- Oct 31
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • Connecticut
    • Online- Nov 1
    • You may also register in person on Election Day, but only at designated locations.
    • Mail- Nov 1
    • In Person- Nov 1
  • District of Columbia
    • You may also register in person on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency.
    • In Person – Nov 8
  • Hawaii
    • Late registration available in person from Oct 25 – Nov 5.
  • Idaho 
    • You may also register in person on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency.
  • Illinois
    • You may also register in person at designated locations on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency.
  • Iowa
    • Online- Oct 29
    • You may also register in person on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency and identification.
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • Maine 
    •  You may also register in person on or before Election Day.
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • Maryland
    • Same day registration is available during early voting period.
  • Minnesota
    • You may also register in person on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency.
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • Montana
    • You may register in person at the county election office on Election Day.
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • Nebraska
    • In Person- Oct 28
  • New Hampshire
    • You may register to vote on Election Day as long as the polls are open.
    • Mail- Oct 29
    • In Person- Nov 8
  • North Dakota
    • Only state without voter registration.
  • Ohio
    • You can register and vote the same day during the early voting period.
  • Rhode Island
    • You may register and vote for President/Vice-President only at your local Board of Canvassers on Election Day.
  • Utah
    • Online – Nov 1 .
    • In Person – Nov 1
  • Vermont
    • Online – Nov 2
    • Mail – Nov 2
    • In Person – Nov 2
  • Washington 
    • In Person – Oct 31
  • Wisconsin
    • You may also register in person on Election Day.
    • In Person – Nov 8
  • Wyoming 
    • You may also register in person on Election Day.
    • In Person – Nov 8

Disclaimer:  *Where I’ve made an effort to have accurate information only your states Secretary of States website has the official and current data.  Please check with them about when to register and what you will need on voting day.

Also I am not affiliated with any candidate, candidates party, or state election office.  They haven’t paid me for this or any other blog post I’ve written about voting.  I believe voting is a vital component of a democracy and it is up to everyone to vote.

 

**Changed title of post from “How to Vote” To Voting Hoax on 11/6/2016 due to the post primarily being about a voting hoax.  “How to Vote” was not the correct title to use.

Register to Vote Day

Today is National Register to Vote Day.  Voting is an important part of a democratic society.  It is about expressing a preference for, or against, an elected official or ballot measure.  There are deadlines to register to vote, for absentee voting, and early in person voting that are coming up in October.  Below are several places in which to get registered, check your registration, or find out more information about your states requirements.

  • IWillVote: sponsored by the Democratic National Committee
  • SaveTheDay: From their site they are “a digital production company dedicated to the idea that voting is a necessary and heroic act.”
  • CanIVote that was set up by state election officials to help direct people to the right state websites.
  • RockTheVote a nonpartisan, non-profit organization aimed at getting young people to vote.
  • USA.Gov where you can register to vote; and check your status.
  • Vote.Org where you can check your registration status.  You can either enter your information into their form or go to the list of states click on your state and enter the information directly into your states site.

WordPress also has a Get Out the Vote Voter Look-Up Tool:

 

Here are two videos by Save The Day about the importance of voting:

Video one “Importand Save The Day“:

Video two “You Say Vote: (The owner of the video disabled playback on other sites.  It has to be seen on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox4HbjT0HKk)

 

50 Days Until Election

It is hard to believe that there are just 50 days left in this never-ending election cycle.  Voting is important to our democracy.  Every few days there seems to be another headline about changes to the voting laws in a variety of states.  So it is important for every voter to stay informed about the current laws for their state.  For the majority of states, the deadline for voter registration is around the first week of October.  So, it isn’t too early to get registered to vote, check on voter registration, or get registered for early or absentee voting.  According to the National Conference of State Legislators currently, there are:

  • 34 states and the District of Columbia that allow no-excuse early voting in person;
  • 3 states (Oregon, Washington, and Colorado) that have vote by mail systems
  • 27 states and the  District of Columbia that allow absentee voting by mail without an excuse.
  • 20 states that allow absentee voting by mail if voters meet specific criteria

A search for “confirm voting registration” brings back several options for confirming voter registration status.  Included among them are:

  • CanIVote that was set up by state election officials to help direct people to the right state websites.
  • RockTheVote a nonpartisan, non-profit organization aimed at getting young people to vote.
  • USA.Gov where you can register to vote; and check your status.
  • Vote.Org where you can check your registration status.  You can either enter your information into their form or go to the list of states click on your state and enter the information directly into your states site.

WordPress also has a Get Out the Vote Voter Look-Up Tool:

To find out what measures are on your ballot this election you can go to your Secretary of States website and/or places like Ballotpedia.org.  Ballotpedia allows you to search for statewide measures.  The site then provides the text of the measure, statements for and against, media editorial positions and any poll results.  They also link to all references and have additional external links.

For the most up-to-date information check with your Secretary of States website and/or local elections office.

 

Google Doodle Contest

Have you ever wanted to have your doodle selected for the Google Doodle?  If so, and if you are in grades K-12 then it could be:

This years “Doodle 4 Google” contest is open from September 14, 2016 until December 2, 2016.  The doodle needs to tell the world, “What I see for the future”.  Any materials can be used in the creation of the doodle so clay, graphic design, and even food can all be used.  Make sure that the doodle is an original piece of work by the artist and does not contain any logos or trademarks.  The entry form can be downloaded from their site and entries can be submitted online or mailed to Google.  Only one entry per student and the first entry submitted is the one they will judge.  Keep in mind that the doodle will be viewed on computers, laptops, smartphones, etc., so test out how yours looks before submitting.

The national winner will get their doodle featured on the Google homepage for a day, and they will also get:

  • A $30,000 college scholarship
  • A $50,000 Education Technology award for their school
  • A trip to Google Headquarters in CA
  • A Chromebook
  • An Android tablet

For more information and to enter a doodle:  https://doodles.google.com/d4g/  Remember this is only for artists in grades K-12.

FDA Product Investigation: WEN

The FDA has released a statement about their investigation into WEN By Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners.  The FTC has received 127 reports from consumers in regards to the products.  It is the “largest number of report ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product including cleansing conditioners.”  They are also investigating more than “21,000 complaints” they “learned of during inspections” of facilities.  They have not yet determined a cause for the adverse reactions. They are asking the company, consumers, and physicians for data to help them figure out the cause.

In the Information for Consumers statement the reports since 2011 mention:

  • The Cleansing Conditioners
  • Some mention using other WEN Products in addition to the cleansing conditioners
  • 66% (5,689) of all hair loss complaints named the Sweet Almond Mint variety
  • 2,537 complaints mentioned the Lavender variety
  • 1,542 mentioned the Pomegranate variety

If you, or someone you know, has used their products and suffered an adverse effect please report it to the FDA.

Statement of FDA Investigation

 http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm511626.htm

The FDA is investigating reports of hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash associated with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products. While the FDA continues its investigation, consumers should be aware of reactions reported in association with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products. Consumers who experience a reaction after using WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products should stop using the product and consult with their dermatologist or other health care provider. The agency also urges consumers to report to FDA any reactions they may have experienced when using these products.

As of July 7, 2016, the FDA had received 127 adverse event reports directly from consumers about WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products, the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product, including cleansing conditioners. We also are investigating more than 21,000 complaints reported directly to Chaz Dean, Inc. and Guthy Renker, LLC that we learned of during inspections of manufacturing and distribution facilities.

The FDA has not yet determined a possible cause for the adverse events that have been reported, and today has called on the company to “provide any data that might help us to better understand the reports of hair loss associated with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products.” The FDA also has reached out to physicians and other health care providers asking them to notify their patients of hair loss and other complaints associated with the use of these products and to report adverse events to the agency.

The FDA will provide additional updates as new information becomes available.

Additional Information

FDA Information for Consumers About WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners