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  • Geebo 10:00 am on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Homeland Security, , , , , , ,   

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam 

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam

    It’s time again to bring you some more scams that are happening around the country that could ultimately impact your area and possibly someone you know.

    First up is a twist on the typical IRS scam. In the typical IRS scam, someone will call a victim on the phone pretending to be from the IRS trying to pressure the victim into making an immediate payment on a tax bill that doesn’t actually exist. The flaw in this scam is that the IRS rarely calls a taxpayer to settle any taxes owed. Instead, the IRS is known for mailing out any delinquent tax notices. That’s where this new scam being reported out of Sullivan County, Tennessee takes it up a notch. The scammers are mailing out letters claiming to be from a “Tax Enforcement Department” which then directs potential victims to call a phone number to make a payment. If you receive a letter like this and you feel like you may owe the IRS some money always call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.

    Speaking of government agencies, our next scam involves possible the most fear-inducing branch of the government and that’s the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS recently released a warning stating that scammers were calling people posing as the DHS by spoofing official DHS phone numbers. That way when someone receives the call it appears to be from DHS itself when in reality it’s just a scammer. The scammers are said to be claiming that the people they call have been victims of identity theft and ask the victims for personal information or threatening people with immigration offenses if they don’t make a payment right then and there. Some of these scammers are even sending out emails using an uscis.org email address. That is similar to but not the web address of DHS which is actually uscis.gov If you receive one of these phone calls or emails, the DHS requests that you call them at 1-800-323-8603.

    Lastly, we have an online puppy scam that has an added level of cruelty added to it. Luckily, no puppies actually exist in this scam if you can call that lucky. An online puppy scammer is said to be taking money from victims over PayPal as a deposit for a purebred puppy. The phony breeder then directs all of their victims to an address in Atlanta, Georgia to pick up the fictitious puppy. According to FOX 5 Atlanta, people have driven from as far away as Detroit. The man who lives at the Atlanta address has had to tell all the people who showed up on his doorstep that they’ve been scammed. Buying puppies online is always a risky venture as there are a plethora of scams involving puppies, some of which end up with puppies being bred in backyard puppy mills. When searching for a new pet for your family you should always deal with a locally licensed breeder or your local shelter. You’re less likely to run into scammers this way.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on February 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Amazon’s alleged tax dodge is just the beginning 

    Amazon's alleged tax dodge is just the beginning

    Last week was not a good week PR-wise for Amazon, the company owned by the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos. Even before it was announced that Amazon was not going ahead with their second headquarters in New York, they were raked over the coals in the press for allegedly not having to pay any corporate income tax for this year and last year. Instead, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy published a report claiming that Amazon received multi-million dollar tax refunds.

    So how did this happen? According to the report from ITEP, it’s because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Congress passed in 2017 which was heavily backed by President Trump. It not only lowered corporate tax rates but it also failed to close loopholes that large corporations like Amazon could take further advantage of. This is somewhat ironic since President Trump has long criticized Amazon’s business practices while enabling a law that allows Amazon to supposedly continue those practices.

    So Amazon is not paying its ‘fair share’ taxes, what’s the big deal right? Well, it’s not just Amazon who is taking advantage of these new tax regulations. Netflix is another company that will reportedly pay no federal income tax this year either. How many other Fortune 500 companies will also look to take advantage of these loose corporate tax laws? Without corporate taxes being paid as they have been before 2017 tax increases could be passed on to an already overtaxed American public making the economic disparity in our country even worse.

     
  • Geebo 11:11 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , government, ,   

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax 

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax

    Did you ever notice that when it comes to cable options you’re pretty limited to one cable company in your area? That’s because municipalities usually enter into exclusivity arrangements with cable companies. This is why one town can have Comcast while the next town over could have Time Warner or Cox. Of course these agreements can be financial boons for many cities.

    These exclusivity agreements have been going on since the advent of cable TV. This lack of competition is also why cable companies feel they can charge outrageous monthly fees for a ton of channels that you will hardly ever use. Fast forward to today and the landscape of paid entertainment content has vastly changed. Services like Netflix have led many former cable customers to cut the cord. This means that many cities and towns aren’t getting the same financial benefit since cable subscriptions are down. In order to make up the lost revenue many municipalities are considering a ‘Netflix tax.

    Glendale, Santa Barbara, Stockton, and Sacramento are among the more than 40 California cities who are currently seeking guidance from municipal consultants as to how they might implement a Netflix tax.

    Unfortunately it’s the regional monopolies that these cities have created for the cable companies that has led to the cord cutting movement. Monopolies breed complacency while competition breeds innovation and lower prices. Basically these cities are considering taxing the solution to the problem they caused. If that’s not governmental bureaucracy in a nutshell I don’t know what is.

     
  • Geebo 11:54 am on November 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Uber and Lyft surpass taxis in at least one category, discrimination 

    Uber and Lyft surpasses taxis in at least one category, discrimination

    Ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have been taking a bite out of the taxi industry for some time now and with good reason. They’re cheaper, they’re more convenient, and by most anecdotal evidence, the drivers are more friendly and helpful. Now according to a study by major universities, Uber and Lyft have embraced a practice that the taxi industry made infamous, and that’s discrimination against minorities and women.

    The study found that an inordinate number of Uber and Lyft drivers would cancel rides if the user requesting the ride either appeared black or had an African-American sounding name. The way the apps work are, the drivers accept the ride request first then receive the users information including name and picture. It’s at that point that drivers have been allegedly cancelling the rides.

    The ride sharing drivers have also allegedly embraced another practice that has been known to plague the taxi industry. The report claims that when the drivers pick up female passengers, they’ll take longer routes to the destination in order to inflate rates.

    While these ride sharing apps have been heralded as the new way of doing things, it’s starting to appear like the more things change the more they stay the same.

     
  • Geebo 11:18 am on October 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Pasadena,   

    Is there a Netflix tax coming soon? 

    Is there a Netflix tax coming soon?

    Since the start of the commercial internet there have been runors and urban legends about certain taxes. There was one that said that the US Postal Service was going to tax every email sent in order to make up for lost revenue. That turned out to be untrue. Then there were rumors that the goverment would be adding taxes to the internet itself, however the government passed the Internet Tax Freedom Act which prevented that. Now there is talk of a tax on Netflix. Is this another urban legend or false alarm? Maybe not.

    With cable prices rising out of control many households are cutting the cord and using online streaming services like Netflix. The more that people start using Netflix rather than cable the more revenue that cable loses. Most cable companies have financial agreements with municipalities to make them the exclusive cable provider of that location. So in turn the more that people Use Netflix that’s money that’s being taken out of the pockets of city governments. At least one city is looking to make up that revenue and Netflix is their target.

    The city of Pasadena, California, is considering taxing Netflix to make up budgetary shortfalls. The proposed tax would only be a dollar but that’s not really the point. This kind of tax requires a public vote which would more than likely defeat the tax. However, the city is saying that the public approved this tax back in 2008 when they voted for a utility tax.

    If Pasadena were allowed to enact this tax it would set a dangerous precedent. Want to watch YouTube instead of TV? That could be a tax. Want to use an antenna to get free broadcast TV? That could be a tax too. Want to use our own site, Geebo? Well that could be a tax to make up revenue that’s being lost from local newspapers.

    The whole cord cutting movement was born out of the fact that consumers have limited choice when it comes to cable providers. If municipalities were to allow multiple cable companies in their area to promote competition then maybe cable priced wouldn’t be so astronomical. Unfortunately cities are very unwilling to give up well established revenue streams without taxing something new that they probably don’t even begin to understand.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    The secret shopper scam returns in time for Christmas 

    The secret shopper scam returns in time for Christmas

    Another potential scam that we see return around the holidays is the secret shopper scam. While many retail outlets do have positions for secret shoppers, there are more chances of you being scammed then getting a legitimate job. The Delaware State Police are warning that the scam has appeared in their area. Considering that Delaware has no sales tax, they are a prime target for such a scam. With most secret shopper scams, the scammers will either try to get you to pay a fee to become one. Or they’ll send you a phony check to deposit in your account then use it for shopping before wiring them back the balance. These are the hallmarks of a scam.

    In other scam news, police in Richland, Washington are warning that the rental scam is occurring in their area through Facebook Marketplace. The rental scam is one of the oldest online scams there is. The scammers will post a home or apartment for rent at a below-market rate. They’ll then try to get you to rent the property without seeing it and pressure you into wiring them a deposit. If you’re looking to rent a property, always be suspicious of any of these signs.

    Lastly, in Southern California, a water department there is warning customers about a company that is claiming their water is potentially contaminated. While the news article about the claims doesn’t mention it, this could potentially be a high-pressure way of trying to get residents to buy expensive equipment for their home that they may not need. Any company can put an official-sounding prefix in their name like American or National, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out to take your money.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Scams that veterans should be aware of 

    Scams that veterans should be aware of

    With today being Veterans Day it only seems fitting that we should look out for those who have given so much for our country. It seems that veterans are often targeted in government impostor scams. Since veterans often have to deal with several government agencies about benefits and services hearing from the government may not seem that out of the ordinary. Scammers will try to take advantage of the frequency that veterans deal with the government in hopes that the victim of their scam will believe that they are calling from the government. However, most of the scams they try to commit are also some of the same scams civilians have to deal with.

    The most common scam reported by veterans is the IRS impersonation scam. This is where scammers will pose as IRS agents and try to persuade their victims into believing that they owe back taxes. The scammers will try to pressure their victims into making a payment as soon as possible either through wire transfer or gift cards. The next common scam for veterans is the grant scam where the victim will receive a message on social media from a friend’s compromised account telling the victim they can get federal grant money. The scammers will then say that in order to get the grant the victim will need to pay a processing fee which will disappear as soon as it’s paid. And lastly, scammers will pose as being from the VA in order to try to get medical and healthcare information from the victim.

    As with most government scams, the ways of prevention remain the same. If the government really needs to get a hold of you they will more than likely contact you by mail. The government will also never ask for payment over the phone through wire transfer or gift cards. Those are tools of choice used in most scams today. And as always, if you receive one of these calls and you may believe that there is an issue with one of these agencies, hang up and call the agency back at their proper phone number.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , timeshares   

    Scam targeting timeshare owners 

    Scam targeting timeshare owners

    A number of people think timeshares themselves are a scam. Considering how predatory some of their sales pitches can be you really can’t blame them. However, there are many who consider timeshares to be an affordable alternative to owning their own vacation getaway. It also means that you don’t have to worry about hotels or Airbnbs being sold out when it’s time to take your vacation. It also doesn’t hurt that many timeshare properties offer amenities that many other lodging situations don’t offer with more privacy. But just like everything else, there are those looking to take advantage of timeshare owners when it comes time to sell their timeshare.

    A recent report out of San Antonio, Texas, discusses a situation where a local man was approached by a brokerage firm about selling the timeshare that he had in Mexico. He agreed and began to fill out the paperwork in order to initiate the transfer process. After the paperwork was completed he then began getting requests from the brokerage for things like legal fees and international taxes. He was then told that he would get the money back once the deal went through. Then the brokerage firm continued to ask the man for more money and threatening him with lawsuits when he refused to pay. After the man stopped paying the fees they were requesting the ‘brokerage firm’ cut off all contact and disappeared off the face of the earth with them turning off the phone line and shutting down their website.

    While it’s unfortunate that any victim of this scam lost money, there were a number of red flags that this was a scam. The first was that the victims are approached unsolicited. If you’re not in the market to sell and someone calls you with promises of quick cash it’s probably a scam. Secondly, was the first request for additional funds. If you send them money once the scammers will continue to ask for it until they bleed you dry. Lastly was the act of them pressuring for the victim to send more money. Legitimate real estate brokers may try to put the squeeze on you a little bit but they won’t go to such extremes. If you’re in the market to sell your timeshare, have a legitimate broker do it for you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you! 

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you!

    The Better Business Bureau recently released some statistics about scams in this country. While some of them may seem obvious there are some that come as a surprise even to us. The BBB recently issued a report called “Exposed to Scams: What separates victims from non-victims” that you can read at this link, however, it is in PDF form. The BBB surveyed 1400 people who filed reports about scams to them. Out of those 1400 people, 43% did not engage with the scammers. 30% engaged with the scammer but did not lose money. 23% engaged with the scammer and lost money.

    The most common scams were said to be the tech support scam, followed closely by tax collection scams, and online purchase scams. The median amount lost in scams was $600 which is up from $152 in 2018. What also is telling is that out of 91% of people who were approached by scammers on social media, 53% of them lost money. Respondents also include in their survey that people who sounded more official were more likely to con victims out of their money. However, the surprising statistic to come out of this report is that younger people are more vulnerable to scammers than the elderly even though the elderly have long been the targets of many scammers.

    Once you’ve been scammed, it becomes easier to spot a scam when it approaches you. However, you don’t have to be a victim first in order to avoid a scam. There are lots of great resources online that can educate about what scams are new or resurfacing. For one there’s our blog here at Geebo, as we like to keep up to date on the latest scams and when the older one appears with new twists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website listing a number of current scams. And as always, the Better Business Bureau has its famous BBB Scam Tracker.

    As the saying goes, knowledge is power. And we want you to have the power to stop these con artists from making victims out of consumers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cincinnati, fitness trainer, ,   

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam 

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam

    A woman from Cincinnati recently came forward to the media after falling victim to an online romance scam. This is significant as many victims are too embarrassed to report the scam to police let alone the press. She met the scammer on Instagram where they posed as a sort of fitness trainer to the stars. The scammer claimed that he trained many contestants on a popular reality show. They would include pictures of the trainer working out with many of the show’s cast members. The scammer messaged the woman saying he wanted to get to know her better.

    He invited the woman to his fitness studio in New York but first, he had to travel to Africa on business. It was while the supposed trainer was in Africa when the money requests started. First, the scammer requested money for a plane ticket after he got stranded in Africa. The woman wired the money to him. After receiving the first money transfer, the scammer went back to the well asking for more money claiming that he had to pay back taxes to the local African government or they wouldn’t let him go. The woman wired the additional funds to Africa to the awaiting scammer.

    This scammer was clever enough to the point where he instructed his victim to visit different wire service locations so clerks couldn’t recognize the woman as a repeat customer and warn her of the scam. A friend of the woman felt something was up and told the victim to try to contact the scammer on FaceTime. The scammer replied that he couldn’t communicate with her over FaceTime, Skype, or even through a regular phone call. It was at this point that the scammer stopped responding to the victim but not before she was out of $2,076.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are they’re trying to scam you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams, as does the FBI. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
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