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  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , identity protection PIN, IRS, , , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Protect yourself from tax scammers and more 

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the Scam Round Up, we’re bringing our readers a great tip, a new scam, and a reminder of an old scam.

    ***

    One of the more prevalent tax related scams over the past few years has been scammers filing a tax return in your name, so they can claim your refund check. Previously, we’ve recommended filing your tax return as early as possible to beat the scammers, but that isn’t always possible. However, there is another way to prevent fraudulent returns being filed in your name. The IRS has an option where you can get an identity protection PIN. This is a six-digit number that only you and the IRS know. If this number is not included on your tax return, it will not be processed by the IRS. If you’d like to know more about the identity protection PIN or apply for one, you can find more information at the IRS website.

    ***

    A Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina has recently uncovered a scam that could be affecting people nationwide. According to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, scammers are stealing money from bank accounts where the account holder may not notice the missing money. They give estate accounts as an example. The scammers will then send a check to an unsuspecting victim asking them to deposit the check, keep a portion of it, and wire the rest overseas. The Sheriff’s Office found a man who was just getting ready to wire close to $200,000 overseas. If you have an account like an estate account, you may want to check on it periodically to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions. Also, no matter how good the promise of money may be, never deposit a check from a stranger then wire the money somewhere else. Not only could this be a fraudulent check, but you could also potentially get in legal trouble for helping to facilitate the scam.

    ***

    Lastly for today, the Border Patrol scam is making headlines again. This is where scammers will pose as agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Victims will receive a phone call that says Border Agents intercepted a box full of drugs and money that was supposedly being shipped to the victim. Other times, the scammers will say that a car rented in the victim’s name was found with drugs in it near the Southern Border. In either case, the scammers will threaten the victim with arrest if they don’t pay a fine. As with most modern scams, the scammers will ask for payment in non-traditional means like cryptocurrency or gift cards. Always keep in mind, no law enforcement agency will ever ask for money over the phone or threaten someone with arrest over the phone.

    ***

    We hope you found this post informative, as nobody should ever have to endure the damaging schemes of scammers.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , IRS, , , ,   

    Here’s how to deal with tax scammers on the phone 

    Here's how to avoid tax scammers on the phone

    By Greg Collier

    We’re just a month and a half away from the tax deadline this year. In 2022, there’s no courtesy extension due to the pandemic. U.S. tax returns are due on Monday, April 18th. As the deadline draws closer, scammers may see it as having their own deadline, the deadline to commit as many tax scams as possible. Not all tax scammers are after your refund check. Many of them are attempting to get your sensitive personal information instead. To accomplish this, they’ll imitate the one federal agency that everyone fears, the IRS.

    Many scammers will call their victims, posing as the Internal Revenue Service. If the scammer is attempting to get money from you, they’ll set out to get you to make a payment to them, typically in non-traditional means like gift cards or cryptocurrency. If the scammers are trying to steal your personal information, they may tell you the IRS owes you money, but they’ll ask you for personal information to verify your identity. What they’re actually attempting is to steal your identity.

    CNBC has a great article on how to help avoid these scams. According to CNBC, if anyone calls you claiming to be the IRS saying you owe them money, ask them for as many details about the supposed case as possible. While it’s not a guarantee the scammer won’t hang up at this point, it is said that it will stop the majority of scammers from pressing forward. You can also tell the caller you’re not comfortable giving personal information over the phone and would rather continue communication by mail.

    It’s always good to keep in mind the IRS does the majority of its official communication through the postal mail. The agency will only call you if you’ve already been in contact with them through the mail. They will not call you about a case that they just opened.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , IRS, , tax return   

    Tax season scams you should look out for 

    Tax season scams you should look out for

    By Greg Collier

    This coming Monday, January 24th, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns for 2021. The deadline to have your return submitted to the IRS is April 18th this year. And with tax season starting, there are a number of tax return related scams that you should be aware of.

    The most devastating scam that affects taxpayers is when an identity theft files a return in your name. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you’ve been a victim of this scam is receiving a letter from the IRS informing you that a duplicate return has been filed. The best way to protect yourself against this scam is to file your taxes as early as possible. If you’ve had your information leaked in a previous data breach, this is the best option for you to avoid having to straighten things out with the IRS. However, if you do become a victim of this scam, contact the IRS right away. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to get your tax return.

    Another area where tax season scammers thrive is the tax preparation industry. If you intend to have a professional file your taxes, research that professional or company first. The Better Business Bureau suggests avoiding tax preparers that only set up shop until the tax deadline. If you end up being audited by the IRS, will that tax preparer be there to assist you? Also, be wary of tax preparers who tie their fee to your tax refund. Fees are supposed to be based on how difficult it is to complete your tax return, not your refund.

    Tax season is also when scammers will attempt IRS impersonation scams. The scammers will call their victims, posing as the IRS and demanding payment for any number of reasons. The one thing all these impersonators have in common is that they will try to pressure you into making a payment over the phone. The IRS does not call taxpayers about tax issues. If the IRS has a concern that they need you to resolve, they will always contact you through the regular mail.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , IRS, , ,   

    There is no stimulus surprise 

    There is no stimulus surprise

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been months since the IRS issued their last round of economic impact payments, otherwise known as stimulus payments. At the time of this writing, there are no current plans to issue a fourth round of stimulus payments. However, that hasn’t stopped scammers from using promises of additional payments to get what they want from their victims. In fact, the IRS recently said that the number of scams they’ve received complaints about has been the highest that they’ve seen in over a decade.

    Recently, there’s been a nationwide uptick in scammers using the promise of stimulus payments to get information or more from their victims. The methods aren’t new, but the message is. Scammers are sending out texts and emails that claiming that the victim has been specially chosen by the President to receive a surprise credit. Other messages have stated that the victim has unclaimed stimulus money. Even more messages posing as the government ask victims for their banking information, claiming that the IRS needs it again to send out another stimulus payment. All the messages contain a link that the scammers hope you click on. Moe than likely, the link will take you to a phony website asking for your personal and financial information, which the scammers can then use for any number of illicit purposes.

    As always, there’s a good way to avoid this scam if you keep one thing in mind. The IRS does not communicate by text message or email, and they especially don’t do it out of the blue. If the IRS or just about any government agency needs to contact you for some reason, they will almost always do so through the postal mail. Everyone else is almost guaranteed to be a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Child Tax Credit, , IRS, ,   

    New scam targets families with children 

    New scam targets families with children

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the IRS started issuing payments for the Child Tax Credit to eligible families. Unsurprisingly, this has brought out the scammers who are looking to get their hands on your money. The FBI has issued a warning letting people know that the scammers are out there and looking to steal the payments from families who desperately need it. Here are some tips on how to try to avoid these scams.

    Many of these scams are recycled scams from when the stimulus payments were being issued. If your bank account information is already on file with the IRS, you don’t have to do anything to receive your payment. The payment will be sent to you through direct deposit. Anyone who says that you have to sign up for some service to receive your payment is trying to scam you. No one can help you get your payment earlier, either.

    Scammers will also pose as the IRS on the phone and try to pressure you into giving up your financial information. They may even threaten you with arrest if you don’t comply with them. Keep in ind that the IRS rarely calls anyone out of the blue, nor do they threaten anyone with arrest. These are the high-pressure tactics of a scammer who is trying to scare you into giving them your information.

    The IRS won’t email or text you, either. So if you receive a message asking you to click on a link to receive your payment, it is a scam. More than likely, you’ll be taken to a scam website that looks official that will ask you for your personal and financial information. If you give that information up, it’s almost guaranteed that your money will end up in the hands of a scammer.

    If you feel like you have been scammed out of your Child Tax Credit, notify your bank and contact the IRS.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , IRS,   

    Victim loses $170K in IRS scam 

    Victim loses $170K in IRS scam

    By Greg Collier

    With 2020 tax returns being so confusing to file due to the pandemic and a change in tax law this year, it seems like scammers are taking advantage of that confusion. Sadly, IRS scams are nothing new. If your identity has been stolen, scammers may try to file for a refund in your name before you do. They may even try to intercept your refund check or change your direct deposit to another bank account. Then there is the old classic of IRS scams, threatening to arrest you if you don’t pay.

    A woman from Dallas, Texas recently fell victim to this scam. A pair of men called her, posing as the IRS. These men told the woman that she had a warrant out for her arrest due to unpaid taxes. Once the woman paid the scammers $10,000, the scammers became even more greedy. More calls followed with more demands for money. The scammers overplayed their hand when one of the money deliveries did not reach the scammers. One of the scammers told the woman to file a police report to recover the undelivered payment. When she went to file the report, police told her that she had been scammed. Before it was all over, the woman paid the scammers $170,000. Police were only able to recover 10% of the $170,000.

    While it may seem intimidating to receive a phone call like this, no law enforcement or federal agency is going to threaten you with arrest over the phone. The vast majority of communication that comes from the IRS is done through postal mail. The IRS does accept payments in a myriad of ways, but they recommend doing so electronically through the IRS website. For other IRS scams, you can refer to the IRS’s Consumer Alerts page.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , IRS, ,   

    College students targeted in tax scam 

    College students targeted in tax scam

    By Greg Collier

    With it being tax season, tax scams are on the rise. We’re not talking about the kind of tax scam where federal agents show up at your door because you claimed the squirrels in your yard as dependents. We’re talking about the kind where is either trying to separate you from your refund, or using the promise of a refund to steal your information. The latest targets in this kind of tax scam are college students.

    The IRS is warning people that anyone with an email address ending in .edu is vulnerable to this scam. The scam is essentially a phishing attack. The student receives an email that appears to be from the IRS asking the recipient to click on a link that’s labeled either “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” If the victim clicks on the link they’re taken to a website that asks for personal information like name, date of birth and Social Security number.

    Theoretically, college students are a prime target for identity thieves. At that age they may have established any serious credit yet which is the holy grail for identity thieves. Identity thieves could use a young victim’s credit for years before the victim ever realizes it.

    There’s been this stereotype that’s been going around forever that young people are better with technology than their parents. While that may be true, they may also be unsure of how filing their income taxes and receiving a refund works. So, they might think that this phishing email is a legitimate way of claiming their income tax refund. We realize that our readers tend to be from a different demographic than college students, but we also realize that you may have a college student in your family. If you do, you may want to warn them about this potential scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , IRS,   

    Tax scam season is starting 

    It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were all filing our taxes for 2019. Due to the pandemic, the IRS gave us all a generous extension to file our income taxes. This year, we’re not so lucky. The deadline for filing your taxes this year is the traditional April 15th. So, with tax season also comes a number of tax scams which are made even more difficult to avoid due to 2020s unprecedented circumstances.

    The best tip we can give to avoid being scammed is to file your taxes as soon as possible. Last year, scammers were known to file for false returns using stolen identities. If you wait too long you could receive a notification from the IRS that someone has already filed a return using your Social Security number.

    Also, if you’re not going to do your own taxes, and you’re looking to use the services of a tax professional, research the person or company first. Dome fraudsters will set up shop looking like a legitimate tax preparer only to steal your identity and your refund while charging you to do it. Try to avoid any service that’s promising you a ‘too good to be true’ return.

    Tax season is also when scammers will attempt IRS impersonation scams. The scammers will call their victims posing as the IRS and demanding payment for any number of reasons. The one thing all these impersonators have in common is that they will try to pressure you into making a payment over the phone. The IRS does not call taxpayers about tax issues. If the IRS has a concern that they need you to resolve, they will always contact you through the regular mail.

    If you suspect one or more of these scams you can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , IRS,   

    Elderly man loses over half a million dollars in scam 

    Elderly man loses over half of a million dollars in scam

    Imagine working hard your whole life to be able to retire with a substantial amount of money. Then imagine losing over $500,000 of that retirement money to scammers. This recently happened to an 82-year-old man from Sioux Falls, South Dakota when he fell victim to an impersonation scam.

    The man received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller claimed that a car in the man’s name was found to have drugs in it.

    This is a common tactic used in a number of scams. Often, the victim will be told that a rental car in their name was found in Texas near the Mexican border with drugs in it. Often the scammers will say that the victim’s Social Security number and benefits will be suspended if they don’t pay to clear things up which is what the phony IRS agent told the man.

    This was followed up by similar calls from scammers posing as both the FBI and the DEA. The man ended up making payments to the scammers through money transfers and gift cards. Before it was all over, the man had ended up paying $550,000 to the scammers. While it’s not mentioned in the report, we have to wonder how much of his life savings did that entail? For most people, they would have been cleaned out much earlier in the scam.

    However, a few lessons can be learned from this man’s experience. The first is that agencies like the IRS, FBI, and DEA will not call you about such matters. The IRS would contact you by mail but a situation like this is out of their jurisdiction. While it is in the jurisdiction of the FBI and DEA, they would more than likely send an agent or two to your home to discuss such matters.

    Speaking of government agencies, none of them would ever ask for payment over the phone and if they did, they wouldn’t ask for payment in such unorthodox means like money transfers or gift cards.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s best to hang up and call your local police department at their non-emergency number. They’ll be able to tell you if the call is a scam.

    If you ever fall for one of these scams, it signifies to scammers that you could potentially fall for other scams as well. Scammers ceaselessly preyed upon this poor man until he was out of over half a million dollars.

     
  • Geebo 8:06 am on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , IRS, , ,   

    There is no 2nd stimulus payment 

    There is no 2nd stimulus payment

    With life in the United States currently adapting to the everyday changes brought on by the global pandemic, scammers and con artists have been adapting as well. With every change, they continue to tweak and transform their scams into whatever can best serve them now while disregarding the untold victims they leave in their wake.

    By most reports, the majority of those who were eligible to receive the economic impact payments have received them. That doesn’t mean that there still aren’t those who could use additional stimulus benefits. There has been talk among lawmakers to issue additional payments, but as of the time of this posting (5/26/2020) no additional stimulus payments have been approved by the government.

    That hasn’t stopped scammers from trying to fool their victims into believing that a second stimulus payment is on its way. The reason the scammers are doing this is so they can pull the same scams they tried when the initial stimulus payment was being issued.

    A report from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office is warning residents about one such scam where the scammers are posing as IRS employees. They’re saying they can provide additional funds as long as the consumer installs a certain software on their device. The victims are then asked for a $1,000 gift card to pay for the software.

    So in this particular scam, the scammers are double-dipping their victims. Not only are the scammers trying to steal consumers’ money by asking for payment by gift card but they’re also installing software on consumers’ devices. This software can be anything from malware designed to steal your security credentials or ransomware that can lock you out of your device.

    If the IRS needed to contact you for any reason, they will contact you by postal mail. They will not contact you unwarranted by phone, text, or email.

     
    • Robert Jamison 2:31 pm on May 27, 2020 Permalink

      I’m on SSI and I haven’t received my stimulus check or has been direct deposited into my account and the IRS has all my info on my direct deposit but I got the nice letter from the POS Trump be nice to get the stimulus first before you get the letter

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