If the month of March had its own color, it would be green. Between the green shamrocks of St. Patrick's Day and the first green buds on trees, March is all about nature's favorite hue. In this issue, you'll find online resources for festive green cupcakes in the Pinterest section as well as tips for eating more green vegetables in Sites of the Month.
This issue also includes a warning about tax-related email scams and how to prevent becoming a victim. You don't want someone stealing your identity — or your tax refund. Check out this month's FAQ for guidance on protecting the privacy of your Google search history. In the Short Tutorial, learn what to do if you think your computer has been infected with malware. And just for fun, we give you the green light to relax and watch the surprising videos in Two to View.
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To see what's inside this issue, simply scroll down the eNewsletter or click on the links within the index to the left. Thanks for reading!
- The eCurrents Team
Fraud Alert – Tax-Related Identity Theft Is On The Rise
The numbers are staggering. According to Congress' Government Accountability Office, the IRS detected 642,000 cases of identity theft in the first nine months of 2012, up from 242,000 in all of 2011. Nearly 16,000 taxpayers complained of problems related to identity theft to the Taxpayer Advocate in the first half of fiscal 2012, a 57 percent increase over the previous year.
Identity thieves use a taxpayer's identity, stolen by phishing emails or other methods, to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. The legitimate taxpayer may be unaware that anything has happened until they file their return later in the filing season and discover two returns have been filed using the same Social Security number.
What can you do to avoid becoming a target? First, beware of emails that appear to be from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media tools to request personal or financial information. The IRS also does not send emails stating you are being electronically audited or that you are getting a refund. If you receive this type of email, you can assume it is fake. Ignore it or, better yet, forward it to the IRS at email@example.com.
3 Rivers' Annual Membership Meeting will be held on Monday, March 18, 2013, at the Community Hall in Fairfield. We're celebrating our 60th anniversary at the meeting this year with door prizes, a special video and more! For those co-op members who can't attend the meeting in person, we're giving away ten $60 Gift Certificates in a random drawing of all our members! Check out the News section of 3rivers.net for more details.
The March/April print edition of Currents contains a brief history of the first 60 years of your telecommunications cooperative. Visit 3rivers.net for a more in-depth look at what has shaped our business from 1953 to 2013. Thanks to all of members—we look forward to serving you for the next 60 years!
P.S. If you want to watch streaming video of the Annual Meeting, visit 3rivers.net on March 18 and follow the link.
This Month's FAQ – What Can I Do To Protect The Privacy Of My Search History?
Question: I use Google for most of my searches and am concerned about privacy. What can I do to protect the privacy of my search history?
Answer: We understand your concern. The amount of information Google collects and what it does with your information makes many people uncomfortable. Google records all the search terms you enter and your search history can reveal a great deal about your hobbies, age, health problems, religion, and so on. Google uses this data to improve and customize your searches, as well as to serve you targeted ads.
Sites Of The Month – Great Sites To Check Out In March
Movie Site Is A Big Hit www.fandango.com – Watch HD movie trailers and read reviews to decide what to see this weekend. Then check movie times and buy your tickets. You can also read detailed information about upcoming films to plan future movie nights.
You Won't Believe Your Eyes www.thisiscolossal.com – Take a visual vacation at this site that explores art, design, and photography. It features a collection of incredibly unique images including ice-laden trees, rainbows of tulip fields, and "architect gone mad" buildings.
Eat More Green Vegetables www.thekitchn.com – Thanks to St. Patrick's Day, March is the month that celebrates green. Of course, green vegetables are always a healthy choice and this site shares easy ways to eat more of them each day.
Take A Trip To Mars www.nasa.gov – March was named for the Roman God "Mars" so it's an appropriate month to check out the Mars Mission. No spaceship is required. Simply visit this NASA site to see the latest news, images, and videos.
Two To View – A Couple Of Amazing Videos You Don't Want To Miss
Surprise Light Show at Grand Central On the night of Grand Central Terminal's 100th Birthday, commuters and tourists were treated to this surprise performance using LED flashlights and camera flashes. It spanned three floors of windows and created a spectacular show of light.
9-Year-Old's Ping Pong Ball Shots If you're someone who struggles to throw a paper wad into a trashcan, you'll be impressed by this kid. He manages to skillfully bounce and throw a ping pong ball into a drinking glass from multiple starting points. We're told he's started basketball this year!
Short Tutorial – What To Do If You Think Your Computer Has Malware
Malware is short for "malicious software." It includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.
Your computer may be infected with malware if it:
Slows down, malfunctions, or displays repeated error messages.
Won't shut down or restart.
Serves up a barrage of pop-up ads.
Displays webpages you didn't intend to visit or sends emails you didn't write.
Displays new and unexpected toolbars or icons.
If you suspect there is malware on your computer, take these steps:
Stop shopping, banking, and doing other online activities that involve user names, passwords, or other sensitive information.
Update your security software, and then run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
If your computer is covered by a warranty that offers free tech support, contact the manufacturer. Before you call, write down the model and serial number of your computer, the name of any software you've installed, and a short description of the problem.
If steps 2 and 3 have not fixed the problem, you need to seek assistance from a local computer repair technician. Your Internet service provider may offer this service or be able to make a recommendation to you.
Once your computer is back up and running, think about how malware could have been downloaded to your machine, and what you could do differently to avoid it in the future. Again, check with your Internet service provider for suggestions on computer security solutions.
If your security software or operating system was out-of-date, download the newest version and set it to update automatically. Be sure to change any online passwords that you used while your computer was infected.
If you think your computer has malware, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know. You can file a complaint at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
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