By Ken Kleinlein
ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – Request tax preparers’ credentials and ask if they belong to a state board or bar association that require continuing education. Is the business open year round?
Ask about service fees and avoid those who claim they can obtain larger refunds. Be wary of “Refund Anticipation Loans,” as fees will be required even if the loan is not approved. Would the use of a refund anticipation loan for a few days be worth fees that could be up to 180 percent APR?
Will they represent you if you are audited or pay any audit-related fees. Only attorneys, certified public accountants, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in matters including collections, audits, and appeals.
From former NYPD Captain Eddy Mamet: “I received a bogus call this a.m. from a male caller who asked for me by name. I demanded that he tell me who he was before I ID myself. Finally, he said the he was a tax agent for the IRS and Treasury Department. When I said it was a scam he hung up. The call came from a “Kirkland, WA telephone number (425) 242‑7953.”
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s Taxpayer Identity Protection Act, has been signed into law. It allows employers to keep Social Security numbers off the W-2 form, which is a prime target of identity thieves. Employers will now list only the last four digits on a W-2.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) investigates phone fraud scams by individuals misrepresenting themselves as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees.
“We have made progress in this scam, resulting in the successful prosecution of individuals over the past year, said TIGTA Chief J. Russell George. However, this is still a matter of high investigative priority.”
The TIGTA receives reports of thousands of contacts in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards.
“Even after the tax filing season has ended, it is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees.This scam has proven to be the largest of its kind we have ever seen. The callers are aggressive, relentless, and ruthless.”
TIGTA has received reports of roughly 736,000 contacts and approximately 4,550 victims who have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.
George noted that the scam has hit taxpayers in every state in the country. Scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with being charged with a criminal violation and immediate arrest, deportation, or loss of a business or driver’s license.
The TIGTA is pro-actively taking steps to raise consumer awareness to this scam, partnering with the Federal Trade Commission, the Veteran’s Administration, and reputable private sector companies to distribute messages that warn people with a series of “Alerts.”
The IRS generally contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. It will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer and will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
The callers who commit this fraud often:
• Utilize an automated robo call machine.
• Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
• May know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
• Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
• Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
• Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and a fake caller ID to support their claim.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment here’s what to do:
• If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800−829−1040 FREE. IRS workers can help you with payment questions.
• If you do not owe taxes, fill out the IRS Impersonation scam form on TIGTA’s website, or call TIGTA at 800−366−4484 FREE.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.
Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
Forward scam e-mails to email@example.com. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.
Read the U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release.
Read more about tax scams on the IRS website.
Englewood lost a great man in January. Gene Naples passed after a short illness.
Gino, as I called him, was a Navy pilot, firefighter, union leader, assistant director of the Florida Fire Marshal’s office, led the successful crusade to keep Englewood’s Buchan Airfield open, and served on numerous boards and committees. He was my friend and I will miss him as will many others.
Take care, be careful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.
God bless and protect our military, law enforcement, fire fighters and EMTs.
Ken Kleinlein is a former NYPD detective coordinating with federal, state, and local law enforcement, and certified security companies, on matters of crime prevention and public information
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