Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Protecting Yourself from Online Fraud

Over the last several weeks, our office has received numerous calls from victims of a fraudulent email scam.  The email purports to originate from an attorney at our address and falsely promises to provide the recipient millions of dollars from a long-lost relative who shares the same last name:

Good Day,

This is a personal email directed to you and I implore that it be treated as such. I must solicit your Consent and assure you that I am contacting you in good faith and this proposal will be of mutual benefit. I Conall Malory, Counselor. I represented the late __________  until death, hereinafter referred to as my client who worked as an oil explorer in East London, He died in a car crash with his immediate family in London United Kingdom on the 15th of March 2013.    
. . . 
I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you have the same last name giving you the advantage so that the proceeds of his account can be transfered to you and then both of us can come to an agreement on how we can share the money when the tranfer of the fund to you is completed. I know there might be other persons out there with the same last name as my late client but my instinct tells me that I can trust you. Can I trust you for us to do this? I shall assemble all the necessary documents that will be used to back up your claim.

This "next of kin" email is a fraud, designed to scam recipients into paying the sender an advance fee.  Our office has no connection with or knowledge of the fraud.  Mallory Law Office, LLC has no attorney with the first name Conall; Conall Mallory is in fact a Lecturer at a British law school; and the fictitious last name "Malory" is spelled differently than "Mallory".

If you have received a similar email, you should not respond.  Before deleting the message, you may wish to open to the email, click the arrow near the reply icon, and click "report phishing" to notify GMail.

The false email above is a type of scam known as "phishing" - when criminals impersonate a legitimate business in order to trick you into providing money or personal or financial information. The Federal Trade Commission has some helpful tips on responding to phishing scams - most importantly, delete messages that ask you for personal information (such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.)  You can also forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

Most importantly, remember the old truism: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Property Tax Reductions Available for Ohio Farmers

Under Ohio's Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program, "land devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture" is valued based on the agricultural use of the land rather than its "highest and best probable legal use." A CAUV valuation often results in a significant reduction in property taxes.

In order to qualify for the CAUV program, property larger than 10 acres must be devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture (such as animal husbandry, field crops, or commercial timber).  If the property devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture is smaller than 10 acres, it must generate a gross average income of $2,500.

An initial CAUV application must be filed with the county auditor prior to the first Monday of March.  Renewal applications must be filed each year.  The auditor's office annually inspects each property to determine if the property qualifies for the CAUV program.

If CAUV land is converted to a non-agricultural use, the property is removed from the CAUV program and the property owner is assessed a recoupment charge equivalent to the tax savings over the previous three years.

For more information about the CAUV program, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation or the Ohio State Bar Association.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Most Small Businesses Unprepared for Disaster

Is your business prepared to survive a natural disaster?  Two-thirds of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan, often because owners believe developing a plan is a low priority or would be expensive. 

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Two-thirds of small-business owners don't have a formal disaster-recovery plan, even though about half say it would take at least three months for their business to recover from a natural disaster, according to a Nationwide survey released Tuesday.
. . . 
Formal plans can ensure everything from the safety of employees to having enough insurance coverage to keep a business in operation until it is back on its feet.

Nationwide's survey, for example, found that 71 percent of those surveyed don't have insurance coverage for lost revenue during a recovery period. Studies have found that 25 percent of businesses never reopen after a major disaster.
. . .
Although many businesses lack a formal plan, many have taken at least some steps to prepare for a disaster, the Nationwide survey showed, Many, for example, are able to work remotely in case of a disaster and have duplicated and stored vital records off-site.