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Income tax scams

Ken Kleinlein

Ken Klein­lein

By Ken Klein­lein
Crime Scene               

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 phishing@irs.gov. 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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