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Local News
TAX SEASON PROMPTS SCAM ALERTS
BBB, IRS and FTC Issue Advice during Tax Identity Awareness Week
 
Anchorage, Alaska — January 26, 2015 — As Alaskans prepare for another tax season, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, along with several federal agencies—is reminding them to beware of scams and identity theft.
 
According to the Internal Revenue Service and BBB investigators, an aggressive and sophisticated phone scam continues to run rampant. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, using fake names and bogus identification badge numbers. Victims are told they owe money and must pay through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses, the scammers threaten with arrest, deportation or suspension of a driver’s license.
 
“These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Don’t be taken in and don’t engage these people over the phone.”
 
According to BBB scheme records, the IRS scam remains at the top of the list with 64 reports in 2014.
 
“The impostors cast a wide net in hopes of catching unsuspecting consumers when they are the most vulnerable,” says Tyler Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “We’ve even seen instances where the scammers claim to have a refund check for the victim in hopes of tricking them into sharing private information.”
 
In an effort to promote awareness, the Federal Trade Commission kicked off Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week today. The agency has provided a list of tools to help consumers prevent phishing, preparer fraud and other scams.  The FTC will host a webinar to educate the public.
 
BBB encourages consumers to be aware of tax season scams and offers this advice on filing safely:
 Identify scam calls: The IRS will never call taxpayers to demand a payment or require them to use a specific payment method for their taxes. The agency will also never threaten to bring in local police to arrest a consumer for not paying.
  • Hire a trusted tax preparer: Consumers should be careful when choosing tax preparers. Unscrupulous preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns to defraud their clients. BBB has a list of BBB Accredited accountants that consumers can trust. 
  • File a complaint: Consumers who have been a victim of tax scams or identity theft should file a report with BBB or the FTC.
 
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is one of 112 in North America and the largest BBB by geographical service area. BBB is a neutral not-for-profit public reporting agency committed to trust in the marketplace. For more information on ethical business standards and BBB Accreditation, or to access free BBB Business Reviews, Charity Reviews, scam alerts or find local event information, contact BBB or visit bbb.org.

 
ALASKA AIRPORTS AND AVIATION 2014 ANNUAL REPORT
The state of Alaska recently released their annual reports of the Alaska airports and aviation.

The report highlights:
  • Message from Deputy Commissioner Binder Highlighting 2014 Successes and Challenges
  • Alaska Aviation System Plan Accomplishments
  • Major Airport Projects
  • Alaska International Airport System Business Report
 CLICK HERE to view full report

 
 OIL COMPANIES PUT A LID ON PLANS TO CUT TOPS OFF VALDEZ STORAGE TANKS
Alaska Dispatch (1-14-15)
FAIRBANKS –  The three oil companies that own the trans-Alaska pipeline are putting a lid on plans to remove the tops of four giant empty storage tanks at the Valdez terminal, citing opposition from Tesoro."Removal of the tank roofs will reduce personnel safety risks associated with winter snow removal activities," the companies said in December, adding they wanted to avoid "tank top deformation." With an average of about 300 inches of snow each year in Valdez, the one-acre topside of each tank has to be periodically cleared by 10-member crews with shovels and scoops.

CLICK HERE to view full article

 
KVAK TV
News Watch
Anchorage Daily News
Greenland -- barrels of oil and bottles of water
OPINION: Greenland's dreams of big money from oil have, so far, been dashed by economic realities, but there is potential for growth in sales of another precious liquid -- water -- as long as sources remain pure and unpolluted.
Arctic policy commission to submit report to Alaska Legislature
The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission is expected to submit its final report to the Legislature on Friday. Companion bills introduced in both houses identify four areas of focus: economic and resource development, infrastructure, health communities and a state-based agenda for science and research.
Economic crisis hit airlines hard in Russia’s western Arctic
Russian air carriers are struggling with massive debt, a collapsed ruble and a dearth of customers; one company has already secured a government loan guarantee.. 
Nordic information office suspends activities in Russia
The decision was made after Russian authorities classified the Nordic Council of Ministers -- an organization that has operated for 20 years in Russia -- as a "foreign agent." 
Plan to allow Shell's Arctic drilling fleet in Seattle draws ire
A plan to allow oil major Royal Dutch Shell to use Seattle's waterfront as a homeport for its Arctic drilling fleet is drawing opposition from environmental groups that say it's not consistent with the region's environmental goals.
Coast Guard taking public comment on Arctic vessel routes
The Coast Guard has begun accepting public comment on proposed vessel routes to the Arctic Ocean off western and northwest Alaska.
Laser scanning sheds a new light on animal habitats in Finland
A survey that is refining maps of Finland's surface and forests is providing another benefit -- new and ultra-precise information about areas suitable for use by the country's wildlife. 
Bear and lynx populations are shrinking in Sweden; harbor seal numbers on the rise
Predator declines in Sweden reverse previous population trends, but harbor seals are making a comeback.
White House to propose allowing oil drilling off Atlantic coast
The Obama administration on Tuesday is expected to announce a proposal to open up coastal waters from Virginia to Georgia for oil and gas drilling, while banning drilling in portions of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off of Alaska.
Bowhead whale songs are complex and copied, new study shows
Scientists have new information about the level of detail in the songs that bowhead whales sing to one another when they are migrating into the Beaufort Sea in the spring.
Fairbanks Daily News
Ketchikan assembly to consider ban on commercial pot
KETCHIKAN, Alaska - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is considering whether to pursue a ban on commercial marijuana while regulations are developed by the state.
Begich announces creation of new consulting firm
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has announced creation of a new consulting firm, with a health care trade organization and an Alaska-based airline among his first clients.
Alaska lawmaker wants to examine state's credits, exemptions
JUNEAU, Alaska - Gov. Bill Walker this past week said he wasn't sure the state could continue to afford a film tax credit program, given Alaska's budget situation. But that program is just one in a my
Alaska Legislature to hold hearings on resolutions backing drilling
JUNEAU, Alaska - The outrage isn't decreasing in Juneau over recent federal proposals that state political leaders see as further examples of the federal government overstepping its bounds.
Sitka clan house gets family repairs
SITKA, Alaska - A project to shore up the foundation of one of Katlian Street's oldest clan houses, the Kaagwaantaan Eagle Nest House, may also help shore up family and clan ties as well.
Tasting rooms leads to boom year for Alaska distillery
KENAI, Alaska - While 2014 was a banner year for Alaska distilleries thanks to a law change that brought back tasting rooms, High Mark Distillery owner Felicia Keith-Jones said 2015 is shaping up to b
Alaska Wildlife Troopers plane collides with another small plane in Mat-Su area; both pilots survive
FAIRBANKS — An Alaska Wildlife Troopers airplane collided in mid-air with another airplane in the Mat-Su Valley this afternoon, according to trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.
Bethel police: Woman, 25, found shot dead in the head
BETHEL, Alaska - Police are investigating the shooting death of a woman found at a Bethel home.
Alaska might not be able to afford generous film subsidies
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Low oil prices could prevent Alaska from being able to afford to dole out generous film subsidies, Gov. Bill Walker said.
Comment period extended for Arctic ringed seal habitat
JUNEAU, Alaska - The public has an extra three weeks to comment on a proposal to designate critical habitat for Arctic ringed seals.
Series of earthquakes recorded under Bering Sea
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The U.S. Geological Survey says there have been a series of Alaska earthquakes in the Bering Sea.
Alaska lawmaker proposes limits on left lane driving
JUNEAU, Alaska - A state representative from Palmer has proposed legislation aimed at reducing the number of drivers who linger in the left lane.
Anchorage fraternity investigated for sexual harassment
ANCHORAGE, Alaska  - A fraternity at the University of Alaska Anchorage is under investigation for sexual harassment.
Remote Alaska park seeks comment on future management plans
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The nation's northernmost national park says its new management plan will have to consider the effects of a new industrial road to the mining district of Ambler, the first road tha
Commission opposes changing annual financial disclosure date
JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska Public Offices Commission opposes pushing back the deadline for filing annual financial disclosures for legislators and public officials.
Arctic policy commission to submit report to lawmakers
JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission is recommending the state take several steps to enhance Arctic communities in its final report, which was delivered to the Legislature on Friday.
Walker names Hummel as adjutant general for Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska - Gov. Bill Walker named retired U.S. Army Col. Laurie Hummel as Alaska's new adjutant general on Friday.
State lawmakers riled up over federal actions
JUNEAU, Alaska - One Alaska state senator is advocating an act of civil disobedience against the federal government and another referenced Alaskans "packin' heat" at the end of a poem skewering federa
Pot legalization puts Alaska drug-sniffing dogs out of work
JUNEAU, Alaska - The legalization of marijuana in Alaska is putting some police dogs out of work.
Alaska sea otter pup moving into Seattle Aquarium
SEATTLE - The Seattle Aquarium is welcoming a 6-month-old sea otter from Alaska.
Alaska halibut catch sees first increase in decade
JUNEAU, Alaska - Fishermen in Alaska will have access to slightly more halibut this year than last.
Fairbanks fugitive arrested in Tok after 2 1/2-hour standoff
FAIRBANKS—A Fairbanks fugitive on the run for over a week is back in jail after a 2 1/2-hour standoff in Tok early Friday morning.
ConocoPhillips to slow petroleum reserve project investment
JUNEAU, Alaska - ConocoPhillips Alaska says that it's slowing its pace of investment on the Greater Mooses Tooth 1 project, citing permitting issues and oil prices.
Search suspended for woman missing along Kuskokwim River
BETHEL, Alaska - The search has been suspended for the third person missing since December when a snowstorm hit the Kwethluk area.
Plans suspended to build more wind turbines at Fire Island
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Plans to add turbines to the Fire Island Wind project were suspended this month when the project ran into a hitch: No one wants to buy the power.
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