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Editorial: Don’t fall victim to tax ID theft

With tax season off and running, filers should be aware of the most rapidly growing scam in the country: tax identity theft.

Statistics from the Federal Trade Commission show that in 2012, tax identity theft accounted for more than 40 percent of identity theft complaints.

It happens when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax refund or get a job, according to Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.

You might find out you’ve been a victim of tax identity theft when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name or if IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t recognize.

The BBB offers these steps to avoid tax identity theft:

n Don’t give out your Social Security number unless necessary.

n Use a secure Internet connection if you file your taxes electronically.

n Be aware the IRS won’t contact you by email, text or through social media; if they need information, they will contact you by mail.

n If your Social Security number has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

n Check your credit report at least once a year, for free, at

In praise of Earth’s axial tilt

Here’s how it works:

The Earth revolves in orbit around the sun over the course of a year. Earth’s axis is tilted 23.4 degrees from the plain of its orbit. It’s called the axial tilt or obliquity. As the planet revolves around the sun, north and south hemispheres change their attitude toward the sun because of the tilt. The result is the change of seasons. In winter, the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun. In summer, the northern hemisphere tilts toward the sun.

This time of year, the northern hemisphere is well into its tilt toward the sun. On Earth, the sun appears higher in the sky. Days are longer. Weather begins to shift from winter’s deep cold to hints of spring warmth. The above-freezing weather of Monday and today (maybe into Wednesday) is the first we-can-feel-it expression this season of the Earth’s marvelous axial tilt. And for sure, the warming power of that 93 million mile-distant star could be felt Monday afternoon.

It’s been a long time coming this winter. While not a record-setter, the winter of 2013-14 will go down in contemporary memory as one of the coldest. Few winters match not only the intensity of the cold but in particular its duration.

It is coming to an end. It always does. The celestial mechanics of the cosmos never fail to amaze, never fail to deliver spring. So, as denizens of the long-frozen Red River Valley begin to feel a new season’s warming rays, we say, hallelujah for the tilt!


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