Dalton Daily Citizen. January 25, 2023.
Editorial: Beware: Along with tax season comes scamming season
It’s tax season again, which means a new crop of income tax scams will soon start circulating. Each year, thousands of unsuspecting people lose money and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals, which means we all need to mindful of these identity thieves and their increasingly sophisticated tactics.
The Internal Revenue Service and state other agencies frequently warm people to beware of evolving phishing scams that use various pandemic-related themes to steal personal data.
As some businesses and independent tax preparers make less than reputable claims and provide misleading information in anticipation of tax season, residents should do their homework and keep a close eye out for these kinds of deals and scams.
“With filing season underway, this is a prime period for identity thieves to hit people with realistic-looking emails and texts about their tax returns and refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watching out for these common scams can keep people from becoming victims of identity theft and protect their sensitive personal information that can be used to file tax returns and steal refunds.”
According to the IRS, taxpayers should beware of falling victim to paid income tax preparers who file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of their customers.
The IRS urges taxpayers to:
• Avoid tax preparers who claim they can get larger refunds than other preparers.
• Review your return before you sign it and ask questions on entries you don’t understand.
• beware of evolving phishing scams that use various pandemic-related themes to steal client data.
• Never sign a blank tax form, and remember to find out the tax preparer’s credentials.
• Be mindful of flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds available without proof of eligibility and offers of free money that require no documentation.
• Do not click on email links or open attachments in unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text messages.
The IRS also encourages taxpayers to not be hesitant to ask questions of their tax preparer. While it may be true that most paid tax return preparers provide honest and professional service, there are some who engage in fraud and other illegal activities. Remember that no matter who prepares your tax return, you (the taxpayer) are ultimately responsible for all of the information on your tax return.
According to the IRS, scams may differ in themes, but they generally have two traits:
•They appear to come from a known or trusted source, such as a colleague, bank, credit card company, cloud storage provider, tax software provider or even the IRS.
•They tell a story, often with an urgent tone, to trick the receiver into opening a link or attachment.
These schemes can involve text message scams, email schemes and phone scams. Remember that the IRS will never call or demand payment by phone, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. If you receive a suspicious call of this kind, hang up immediately and then report the call. You can also report the phone number to email@example.com. Be sure to pub “IRS Phone Scam” in the email subject line.
If you suspect tax fraud or know of an abusive return preparer, the IRS urges taxpayers to report activity to the nearest IRS office. This information can be communicated in writing or by phone. You can contact the IRS by phone at (800) 366-4484 or visit www.IRS.gov for more information.
Valdosta Daily Times. January 21, 2023.
Editorial: Good advice for good cervical health
Health officials are encouraging women to be proactive in their cervical health.
Cervical Health Awareness Month is recognized nationwide in January.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all women are at risk for cervical cancer, although it occurs most often in women older than 30.
The CDC also explains that almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus, a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex.
Other things can increase the risk of cervical cancer, according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District:
– Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for the body to fight off health problems.
– Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years).
– Having given birth to three or more children.
– Having several sexual partners.
When caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable, health officials said.
According to the CDC, the most important things you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV, have regular screening tests and go back to the doctor if screening test results are not normal.
HPV vaccines are available through the county health department or private provider. Vaccination is recommended for preteens ages 11 to 12 years.
If vaccination is started before age 15, a two-dose schedule is recommended, with the doses given 6 to 12 months apart. For people who start the series after their 15th birthday, the vaccine is given in a series of three shots.
Vaccination is recommended for everyone through age 26, health officials said.
“We want to encourage all parents to make sure their child is vaccinated against HPV,” said Missy Pollock, RN, women’s health coordinator for South Health District. “Vaccination is our strongest tool to prevent HPV, which in turn can prevent cervical cancer.”
In addition to vaccination, public health officials said they are proud to offer the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
Through South Health District’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, women who are Georgia residents, uninsured or underinsured and low-income, and who are 40 to 64 years of age can get pelvic examinations, pap smears (if needed), clinical breast exams and mammogram referrals.
Good advice for good cervical health.
Brunswick News. January 19, 2023.
Editorial: Improving health care not as simple as repealing CON
State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-St. Simons Island, and state Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-Townsend, advance valid points when it comes to the future of a sometimes controversial program. This is not the time to be thinking about repealing Georgia’s certificate of need requirement for new medical facilities and healthcare additions.
As the law is now, the Georgia Department of Community Health determines what is needed in a community. It can greenlight or redlight new hospitals or treatment programs. Its decisions are based on need and availability.
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity Georgia claims the state would be better off if government got out of the way. It says CONs prevent competition and drive up the cost of medical care. The group intends to lobby the legislature for its elimination.
Rep. DeLoach says any focus on healthcare ought to be “on finding ways to fund the kind of healthcare that Georgians want and deserve.” He is not in favor of simply dropping the approval process.
Sen. Hodges agrees something must be done to improve healthcare, conceding it is too expensive, inefficient and that too many are without adequate access to it. Nevertheless, he points out, eliminating the certificate of need process would fail to accomplish what its advocates contend it would.
Sen. Hodges ought to know a thing or two about that. He has been a member of the board of the authority that oversees the hospitals in Glynn and Camden counties and the services provided by Southeast Georgia Health System for 20 years.
“If CON were repealed, anyone could start a new hospital in Glynn County, perhaps on St. Simons, and attract all the insured (good paying) patients while turning away Medicare, Medicaid and indigent patients,” he told The News. “Those would be left for our local system to handle and that would bring financial disaster.”
The health system is already swimming against a strong tide of worker shortages, increased employee costs and millions of dollars in unpaid debt. According to Sen. Hodges, Southeast Georgia Health System provides $80 million in uncompensated care yearly.
It’s a large part of the reason he feels this way: “I will not support any repeal of CON laws that would not create a level playing field for all players and provide ample time for existing health systems to plan for and adjust to a new order. We need health care that is less expensive, much more efficient and more accessible. There is much work to do to get there, but CON repeal alone will not help.”
That’s easy enough to understand and words others in the General Assembly might consider embracing.