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Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 00:22

Beware of IRS Taxpayer Scams

The Latest Scam Alert: Scams Targeting Taxpayers

The IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency

On February 2nd, the Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.

Following up on a Security Summit alert, the IRS issued this additional warning about the new scheme after discovering more tax practitioners’ computer files have been breached. In addition, the number of potential taxpayer victims jumped from a few hundred to several thousand in just days. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division continues its investigation into the scope and breadth of this scheme. These criminals have a new twist on an old scam. After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit. Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.

See IR-2018-27

Know How to Identify IRS Scams

According to the IRS, taxpayers have lost millions of dollars as well as their personal information due to tax scams. And no one is truly safe if they are unaware of what scammers can do. Scammers are quite clever at using postal mail, telephone (both landlines and cell numbers), or email to prey upon individuals, businesses, payroll, and tax professionals.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 17:31

Don’t Get Scammed Online for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is today, February 14. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers tips for protecting yourself online before, during and after the “day of love”:

  • Be wary of "too good to be true" deals. Free flower bouquet offers, all-expense paid trips, free gift cards – if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Slow down and think twice before clicking on such deals, especially around holidays.
  • Recognize an online dating scam artist. Online dating is more popular than ever. Look for signs that your suitor may be only interested in your money – if they press you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging, profess instant feelings of love, or ask for money for a variety of suspicious reasons.
  • Protect yourself and your personal information. Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely. Be careful of where and when you choose to meet someone you’ve met online. Pick public places, let others know where you are going beforehand, and be cautious of what personal information you provide about yourself early on in a date.

Be aware, be prepared. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 19:51

Common Exposures of Ride-sharing Apps

Ever since the first ride-sharing app debuted in 2011, they’ve experienced exponential growth in usage. In fact, in the cities where such apps have joined the market, taxi ridership has declined anywhere from 10 to 30 percent. However, while the popularity of ride-sharing apps is increasing, so is the host of risks associated with using them. Most of the companies are in the stages of infancy, and the situations they’re facing are in uncharted territory.

How Ride-sharing Apps Work

While they’re most commonly referred to as ride-sharing apps, any company that uses an online platform to connect passengers with drivers (using the driver’s own vehicle) is called a transportation network company (TNC). These companies each have their own unique differences, but they all operate under the same basic concept.
Through their smartphones, passengers are matched with available drivers via GPS. Most apps display the driver’s route and estimated time of arrival, in addition to the driver’s name, photo and vehicle information. The TNC gets a cut of the fare, typically between 20 to 25 percent, for each ride a driver completes.

The apps are convenient for passengers and for drivers looking to supplement their income. Still, they’re not without flaws. For example, it can be difficult to determine what regulations the TNC and its drivers need to follow, what insurance coverages apply to them and who is considered liable in the event of an accident.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 23:48

Safe Driving: Look Ahead, Scan The Roads

Safe Driving Advice from Massachusetts Traffic Safety Coalition

Scanning the road ahead prepares you for hazards in advance. Try to avoid only staring at the pavement directly in front of your vehicle when traveling. Instead, spend more time focused 10-15 seconds down the road and let your peripheral vision pick up any issues immediately in front of you. By focusing further ahead you give yourself an opportunity to react to future emergencies like disabled cars, sudden braking ahead or even a pedestrian about to approach a crosswalk.

It may feel natural to want to focus on what is immediately in front of you, but it’s far safer to keep your eyes on what lies ahead. At 50 MPH you should try to scan ½ mile to a full mile down the road. This will alert you of upcoming issues and help your navigate safely before it’s too late for you to react. With practice, it will be easier and will keep you and your passengers much safer in the process. #MARoadSafety

Source: Massachusetts Road Safety


Friday, 26 January 2018 19:01

5 Signs That Your Slow Cooker Is Too Old

Thanks to an alarming episode of "This Is Us" on January 25th, 2018, slow cookers are panicking and wondering if theirs could cause a home fire. 

First, it's important to note that the fictional show takes place in the 1990s -- slow cooker technology has changed a lot since then. Second, the slow cooker was a used appliance that came with a warning about a tricky switch. Therefore, not all slow cookers are fire hazards.

That said, there are plenty of old or unsafe slow cookers out there. When should you replace your slow cooker? Here are four things to look for:

Friday, 26 January 2018 17:57

Do Slow Cookers Really Start Home Fires?

Can your crockpot/slow cooker really cause a fire like one did on Tuesday night’s episode of “This Is Us?”

During Tuesday's episode, Jack Pearson turned off the power switch on his old slow cooker, but did not unplug it before retiring for the night. The cooker malfunctioned, the power light flickered, and then sparks and flames engulfed the kitchen, spreading throughout the Pearson home. If you watched the episode and have been rethinking using a slow cooker, you are not alone. But let's look at some facts about what happened on the show as well as the threat of slow cooker fires.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 18:02

January Is National Radon Action Month

What Is Radon And What Are The Risks

Radon is a natuarlly occuring radioactive gas, a byproduct of uranium decay, that becomes dangerous when it builds up in your home. It escapes from soil into homes and buildings through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, wall cracks and cavities, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, and even through the water supply. Because nearly all soils contain uranium, radon is everywhere (see interactive radon map of U.S.).

You can’t see, smell or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. Dangerously elevated levels can exist indoors, where it’s undetectable to human senses. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can be dangerous to your health.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year. In fact, the EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon.

What is National Radon Action Month?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated January as Radon Action Month in 1999 to raise awareness of radon. In addition to raising radon awareness, this month of action is meant to encourage people to get their homes and work spaces tested for radon.

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 01:28

How To Create A Home Inventory For Insurance

Would you be able to remember all your possessions if you have a water or fire loss, or in the event of natural disaster? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. Here's how to create one.

If you're just setting up a household, starting a home inventory is relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. Get started here.


Cold temperatures will affect Massachusetts for at least the next week, and we want to offer some helpful tips to protect your property from the potential of frozen pipes and other hazards this winter.

When standing water gets trapped in pipes and the temperature plummets below freezing, the frozen water expands and bursts a hole right through the pipe or breaks the pipe at its seam. As the water in pipes freezes it expands, creating as much as 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, enough to cause almost any pipe filled with water to rupture. The bad news is that a burst pipe can releases hundreds of gallons of water per hour, causing thousands of dollars in damage to repair.

So what are some signs that you might have a problem with your pipes? Here are five things to look for:

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