Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division Touts National Tax Identity Theft Week

PIERRE, S.D –   Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week begins this week. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses a Social Security number to get a tax refund or tries to obtain personal identifying information while acting as an Agent of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has seen several of these scams surface over the past six weeks and expects the number to increase throughout the busy tax season.

“Consumers are working to complete their tax filing requirements and these scam artists are trying desperately to catch them off guard.  The IRS does not communicate with individuals via phone call or email with tax filing problems, so avoid clicking links on suspicious email messages or harassing phone calls,” said Jackley.

The most widespread scam involves a telephone call telling the victims they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.

In many cases, the caller becomes hostile.

The email scam is still prevalent as well. The victim receives an email claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), indicating there was a problem with their previous tax filing and should click on the link to review the issues.  These scams are designed to obtain personal identifying information.

Consumers should proceed with caution when visiting websites that either associate themselves with the IRS or have the appearance of the IRS site.  These look –alike sites redirect consumers to bogus websites that will ultimately ask for personal identifying information such as social security or bank account numbers.

The official IRS website is www.irs.gov.  It is important to remember the official IRS website offers tax information for consumers, but the exchange of private financial information is limited. Use precaution when logging on to the IRS website and double check your internet address to ensure it is correct.

If you have been a victim of one of these scams or need any additional information contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or http://atg.sd.gov/Consumers.aspx.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting to Combat Illnesses During Flu Season

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Eliminating illness causing germs from reaching our families is a focus during cold and flu season. To accomplish this, the use of chlorine bleach to sanitize surfaces is a common practice in homes, schools, childcare facilities as well as foodservice establishments.

“Chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer and disinfectant on disease causing germs, bacteria, parasites and viruses – including the flu virus,” said Joan Hegerfeld-Baker, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting as cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. However this process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Hegerfeld-Baker reminds the public that chlorine bleach can be ineffective as a sanitizer if not used correctly. She shares the following tips when using chlorine bleach to sanitize:

Never mix bleach with other household cleaners, especially those containing ammonia. A poisonous gas can form which can be deadly.

Clean fist, rinse, then sanitize. Soil, debris and detergent residues will tie up the free chlorine molecules in the bleach/water solution and render it ineffective.

Water should be at room temperature or slightly warmer.

Chlorine bleach can become old and lose its effectiveness.

Make sure that 5.25% sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient in the chlorine bleach.

Scented bleach is not recommended to treat drinking water or on any food contact surface (such as dishes, counter tops, dining tables, food preparation equipment, sinks.)

For more information and tips on disinfecting your home or public environment, Hegerfeld-Baker encouraged individuals to visit iGrow.org and search for “sanitizing bleach.”

Pheasant Ditch Mowing Rule Will Not Change

The months when ditches can be moved along state highways in South Dakota shouldn’t change said the state transportation commission.

A pheasant work habitat work group that was convened a year ago suggested that populations of the game birds might benefit from tighter restrictions on mowing.

The thought was that fewer nests would be destroyed during early summer when the hens are hatching their eggs and in the weeks afterward when the broods of new chicks are sticking close.

The current rule states: “No mowing the right of way may begin in the west river counties of Gregory, Lyman or Tripp before June 15 and east of the Missouri River before July 10.”

A motion was made to leave the rule unchanged. The decision was unanimous on a voice vote.

Football Alignments Set for Next Two Years

The state high school activities association has announced football classifications for the next two seasons.

Winner High School football team will remain in Class 11B and Colome High School football team will be in Class 9B.

The teams in 11B will include: Aberdeen Roncalli, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, Bennett County, Beresford, Chamberlain, Crow Creek, Custer, Elk Point-Jefferson, Flandreau, Groton Area, Jones County/White River, Lead-Deadwood, Little Wound, McCook Central/Montrose, Mobridge-Pollock, Parkston, Red Cloud, Redfield/Doland, Sioux Valley, Sisseton, Tri-Valley, Wagner and Winner.

Teams in 9B are: Alcester-Hudson, Avon, Bison, Burke/South Central, Centerville, Colome, Corsica-Stickney, Crazy Horse, DeSmet, Dell Rapids St. Marys, Dupree, Edgemont, Faith, Faulkton, Freeman, Hamlin, Harding County, Hitchcock-Tulare, Howard, Lanford, Leola/Frederick, Lower Brule, Northwestern, Oldham-Ramona/Rutland, Sunshine Bible Academy, Timber Lake and Wall.