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  • Smoke detectors do save lives

    Iwrote this article and it was first published in the summer of 2015, but the story needs to be repeated for those of you who need our help.One of the responsibilities of the Fire Marshal’s offi ce is to perform fire Investigations. There are several certified fire investigators within the Sun City Fire and Medical Department, but all of the investigations are channeled through the Fire Prevention office. Since becoming a fire investigator, I have been able to see first-hand how many different things can cause a fire and the damaging effects a fire can have on a person’s belongings, or even their own life.I was called out at 11 p.m. one night because we had a significant structural house fire with partial collapse in Sun City. The residential fire was in a duplex with one elderly man in one side and a couple in the other side. When I arrived on the scene, the fire was significantly extinguished and the fire crews were still putting out hot spots.The entire roof on one end of the duplex had collapsed.This makes a very difficult task for a fire investigator because the ceiling, insulation, roof structure and shingles are all lying on top of the evidence as far as determining the source of the fire.Now comes the part where you need to methodically put things back in place to determine the area of fire origin, the point of fire origin and the cause of the fire.

  • Online scammers use bait to lure victims

    “You must update your account now”, “You just won a Grand Prize,” “The IRS has a refund waiting for you,” “There’s a problem with your order,” “Here’s a 15% Coupon,” “Click Here”.Sound familiar? In the cyber world, these words are used as “bait” – lures by con artists and scammers using emails, phone calls and texts that are all designed to separate you from your cash, your passwords, your social security number, your security questions or your very identity.These kind of lures are referred to as “phishing” schemes and they work almost every single time. Cybercriminals are always concocting new and creative ways to easily trick victims into handing over their money or sensitive data. When it comes to computer safety, the main line of defense is not technology, it’s YOU!Criminals pose as a person or familiar organization that you trust and/or recognize. They may hack a friend’s computer and their email account and then send mass spam emails which appear to come from them. They may pose as your bank, a credit card company, a charity or someone in authority. Or, they may pose as a State or Gov’t agency - such as the IRS. Criminals go to great lengths to create websites that appear legitimate, but contain fake log-in pages.Just remember: No legitimate organization – not your bank, not your credit card company, not the IRS – will ever ask for sensitive information through unsecured methods, such as emails. Nor will they send unsolicited emails or make calls with threats of lawsuits, fines, arrests or jail time.Scam emails and fake websites also can infect your computer with Malware without you even knowing it. Malware often gets onto your computer by you clicking on tainted links in emails and opening up email attachments. The malware can give the criminal access to your device, enabling them to access all your sensitive files, your address book and even track your keyboard strokes, exposing login information.

  • Difference between traditional, Roth plans lies in how the money is taxed

    Looking at retirement accounts, two modifiers – “traditional” and “Roth” – dominate much of the discussion.They apply to individual retirement accounts and corporate 401(k) savings plans, as well as 403(b) savings plans for nonprofits.The difference lies in how the money is taxed:• In traditional accounts, taxes are deferred until the money is withdrawn – presumably during retirement, when the account holder might be in a lower tax bracket. After age 70.5, account holders must take an annual, taxable required minimum distribution (RMD).• In Roth accounts – named for the late Sen. William Roth Jr. – the money is taxed up front, but then earns interest and appreciates tax-free.Roth accounts also have more flexible rules for withdrawals. There are no RMDs. In fact, Roth plans don’t require any withdrawals until the account holder dies.

Linda Vitale columns

Tom Drisler columns

Carol Secord columns

Max Oppenheimer columns

Dr. Blonz columns

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