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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox February 3rd, 2023

Thoughts from my inbox

February 3rd, 2023

It’s been a busy week here at Ashton Solutions, but as a prospect said earlier in the week, “that’s better than the alternative”!  Keeping this week’s edition of Thoughts From My Inbox short and sweet, albeit with lots of good info.  We have IRS scams and dating app scams, more on chatbots and winter sports, and a few other good items thrown in.  Enjoy!

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IRS Scams

With the start of the new year, it’s officially “tax time”.  You should be in the process of receiving W2s, K1s, 1099s, 1098s, and more. And this is also the time when hackers start to make every effort to get personal information from you, by claiming they’re contacting you regarding various tax-related concerns. The image above is a screenshot of our internal email quarantine from this past Tuesday morning; you’ll see two emails at each time, meaning the same email is being sent to numerous people within the Ashton organization.   To help you avoid being scammed over the next couple of months, the IRS has put out a great list (wait, the IRS actually did something beneficial?) of the various tax-related scams to be on the lookout for, both before and after April 15th. 

Third Party Hacks

You might have the most secure network around, but that doesn’t mean your vendors do.  If you remember the big Target data breach in 2013, that happened when one of Target’s HVAC vendors was compromised.  Hackers got into the HVAC network and then jumped to Target and everything went south from there.  It seems that’s happened again with Charter Communications.  At the same time, Zendesk, a company that provides management software to many of our peers has also been hacked.  Why does that matter?  It’s another example of a third party being hacked and used to access that company’s (Zendesk, in this case) client networks.   Consider this a reminder that you should question what your vendors and partners are doing to secure THEIR networks, but also take these hacks into account the next time a vendor or partner hits you with IT compliance requirements.  They’re just trying to cover their own backsides.  

Deed Theft

I had a random email on Wednesday from somebody with the New York State Land Title Association, talking about the theft of (home sales) closing documents.  I googled it and came across an interesting piece about deed theft, which kind of goes along with theft of closing documents.  I’d heard about deed theft in the past, but never gave it much thought.  And with all of your information that’s out there on the dark web, I’m sure it’s possible (although not likely) that you could fall victim to having your house stolen right out from under you.  


I posted an article a few weeks back about ChatGPT AI and how it’s being used for things like writing school papers.  Rob McCreary in his monthly blog has some interesting insight on the AI functionality, and he tested it by asking “When should people start collecting social security benefits”.  The answer was pretty impressive.  

Winter Sports

The Winter Sports segment was such a big hit last week (skiing, snowsculpting, ice hockey) that I couldn’t resist doing it again this week.  First I came across a piece about snow polo. Then it was the ski industry in japan, followed by basketball (I think most would agree that basketball is a winter sport, even though it’s in the Summer Olympics); the 22yo basketball coach who pretended to be 13 so she could play in a JV game, and the 60yo who died after being involved in a brawl at a 7th/8th grade basketball game in Vermont.  And since it seems that Iowa is closer to Vermont in winter conditions than it is to Ohio (what a miserable winter this has been), there was the Red Bull Ice Scramble (which reminded me of my dad who used to race a Porsche on frozen Lake Michigan, way back in the day).  

Avoiding Romance Scams

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if you have nothing else to do, you can register to attend a webinar on the topic of avoiding romance scams (some might say that if you’re free on Valentine’s Day, you’ve already avoided the romance scams). Panelists include the head of investigations for (who knew that they had a head of investigations?), the communications director for the online dating association (again, who knew?) and the head of global investigative operations for the US Secret Service (that might be interesting). 

Haven’t had any food-related posts recently, so this listing of high quality “gas station snacks” was a good one to include.  While I’ve only had a couple of these (Spotted Cow beer, a Wawa hoagie, and boiled peanuts, which are horrible), I was surprised to see a Cleveland-area Sunoco station that made the list for its hummus.  Might be worth a trip to the west side…


And for all you golfers (or snake lovers) in the audience, we’ll wrap up this week’s edition with a reminder as to why all your putts should be considered “gimmes”


Have a great weekend and enjoy the snow while it’s here!



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