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:

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Electoral Voted Presidents

Here is a Ted-Ed talk on how the Electoral College works: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9H3gvnN468)

Question: How many presidents were elected without winning the popular vote?  And which ones were they?

Answer: Five presidents took office without winning the popular vote. In other words they won the electoral college vote; not the popular vote.

They were:

  1. John Quincy Adams who lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824.  John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral votes.
  2. Rutherford B. Hayes who lost by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876
  3. Benjamin Harrison who lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888
  4. George W. Bush who lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in 2000
  5. Donald Trump who is currently losing by 233,404 votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016

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.

The Al Smith Dinner

The day after the third presidential debate both candidates were at the Al Smith Dinner.  It is an annual charity dinner held to raise funds for Catholic charities and is named after Alfred E. Smith.  Since 1960 the almost all of the two main presidential candidates have attended to poke fun at themselves and their opponents.

Donald Trump was first to give his speech which turned from humor to part political rally.  He was booed at various parts of his speech.  His speech starts at 7:28 into the video.  Hillary Clinton followed and her speech in parts elicited a few groans.  Her speech starts at 25:42 into the video.

Here is the full video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGgxr4Sxoas):

 

 

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

Business Opportunities

There are busines opportunities around every corner.  The legitimate ones follow:

  • The FTC Business Opportunity Rules:
    • Provide 7 days in advance of signing contracts, making payments, etc. a Business Opportunity Disclosure Document.
    • If any claims about how much money a person could earn; or examples of how much money others have earned are made; or implied, include an Earnings Claim Statement.  It is illegal to make a claim about earnings without having backup materials to substantiate the claim.  It is also illegal to not provide them when requested.
    • Avoid all illegal practices
    • Keep records for three years
    • Here is a video by the FTC that goes over the Business Opportunity Rules:

However not all business opportunities follow the rules of the road.  I’ve run across some recently that have employed the standard tricks and some new ones.  They use things like high pressure presentations to encourage people to sign up for the limited, great, life altering opportunity.  They can include statements like*:

  • Don’t miss out on this great money making opportunity.
  • You too can make 6 figures in as little as 30-60 days.
  • For very little investment, or knowledge, you too can get the income you want.
  • In 60 days you too can quit your day job and do this full time making tons of money.
  • It doesn’t matter what you sell**, anyone doing our system and following our techniques will earn money.
  • You have to join right now to get this incredible deal that will go away at the end of this webinar presentation.  You have to take advantage of this incredible offer before we will disclose anything about the average earnings of those who have signed up.
  • You have thirty days to decide if you want your money back.
  • Only people who invest and/or purchase the premium option are serious, will get the most help from us, follow the system, and earn the most money.

Of course when asked about the average earnings or any of the disclosure statements they either can’t or won’t release them.  Yet they can tell you how much a few other people who followed their techniques and “made an effort” were able to make.  Some other techniques I have seen lately include:

  • Using cheerleaders/supporters in webinar chat to encourage others to sign up.  These people can also help deflect people away from questions they don’t want answered.  Some could be used to ask the questions that they want to answer in the very limited amount of time devoted to answering audience questions.
  • Using a sense of scarcity in the selling to get people to sign up faster.  This is done by statements such as “very limited amount of seats to let you get in on this very exclusive deal”, and “only those who attend our limited capacity webinar will get this life altering deal”.
  • The “hesitant signer up” person.  The person who expresses hesitation because of some financial concern.  The concern is then addressed by a supporter/employee vaguely.  Then the “hesitant signer up person” posts that they will “go for it” and encourage others to “go for it too” because they are ready for the life altering opportunity and everyone should jump on board too.
  • In the webinars they make statements that indicate employing Bait and Switch is not only okay, but completely legal.  Even though Bait and Switch is illegal.

When it comes to business opportunities that employ techniques such as these it is always a good idea to take a step back.  Research the company and the person selling the product to you.  Keep in mind you can also file a complaint with the FTC:

Here is the link to the website at the FTC to file the complaint:  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1

Disclaimers:

*The statements are generic.  Any similarities between your company and it’s business opportunity selling practices are coincidental and something, perhaps, that you should reflect upon.

**In most cases they have a product for you to sell; in some there is either a vague product mentioned or it’s bascially any product you have to sell.

 The information contained within this site is done for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional advice or information on those topics.  The end user assumes all liability for following the tips and advice on this blog.  I’m not a lawyer.

Before signing up for any new business opportunity take time to research the industry and the company offering the opportunity.

DMCA Comment Period

The United States Copyright office is doing a public study to evaluate the safe harbor provisions in section 512 of title 17, United States Code.  Title 17 is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that was passed in 1998.  Section 512 is the section that allows copyright owners and online entities to address infringement.  Service providers are required to have a means in which the copyright owner can make a DMCA claim and have the infringing material removed.  That protects the service provider from infringement liability.  This information is usually outlined in the Terms of Use sections with links to additional pages for actually filing a DMCA with that company.  For example the parent company of WordPress, Automattic.com, has this in their TOS:

6. Copyright Infringement and DMCA Policy.

As Automattic asks others to respect its intellectual property rights, it respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that material located on or linked to by WordPress.com violates your copyright, you are encouraged to notify Automattic in accordance with Automattic’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Policy. Automattic will respond to all such notices, including as required or appropriate by removing the infringing material or disabling all links to the infringing material. Automattic will terminate a visitor’s access to and use of the Website if, under appropriate circumstances, the visitor is determined to be a repeat infringer of the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of Automattic or others. In the case of such termination, Automattic will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid to Automattic.

The link then takes you to their webpage set up to allow a person to file a claim.  It includes the legal notifications required by Section 512.  You can read the entire text of Section 512 here:  http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512

Here is a short video that explains how the DMCA is actually being used to curb Fair Use among other things: (https://youtu.be/NoIL5qUI1p8)

You can read the entire notice about the study and text of the DMCA here:  https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/12/31/2015-32973/section-512-study-notice-and-request-for-public-comment

Fight for the Future has a website set up to gather signatures with a filled in comment section:  https://www.takedownabuse.org/  You can edit the message that they have or just submit using what they wrote.

You can also find the submission guidelines here:  http://www.copyright.gov/policy/section512/comment-submission/  And submit your comments directly here:  https://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=COLC-2015-0013-0002  As noted on the page, “Section 512 Study: Extension of Comment Period“:

“To ensure that commenters have sufficient time to respond, the Office is extending the deadline for the submission of initial comments in response to the Notice to April 1, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Please note that in light of the expected time frame for this study, the Office is unlikely to grant further extensions for these comments.”

WA State Caucus

For the presidential primary Washington State holds a caucus and a primary.  Each party is allowed to determine if either the caucus or primary results; or a combination of both, will be used for the allocation of delegates.  For the Democrats the caucus determines 100% where the delegates end up; for the Republican’s 100% of primary results determines their delegate allocation.  From the WA State Democratic Party’s website:

“The Washington State Democratic Party will be holding its caucuses to choose its nominee on March 26th at 10 AM. It will be Washington Democrats’ opportunity to make their voices heard on who should be our next President.”

The political party a person votes for in the caucus they are required to do so in the primary as well.  Anyone who will be 18 by November 8, 2016 can participate in the process.  Here is a video on how the process works: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2myu7GXoek)

You can pre-register and print out a registration form for the March 26, 2016 caucus here: https://www.demcaucus.com/register

According to the WA State Republican’s website they vote in the primary on May 24.  So make sure you are registered to vote by April 25 in order to vote in the primary.

To register to vote in Washington State go here:  https://wei.sos.wa.gov/agency/osos/en/voters/Pages/register_to_vote.aspx

If you know anyone in the state remind them to get registered and/or out to vote in the caucus on 3/26/2016.