03 Mar IRS’S ‘DIRTY DOZEN’ TAX SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.
IRS’S ‘DIRTY DOZEN’ TAX SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program*
Well, here we are in March 2021! Hard to believe, isn’t it? March marks that time of year when Winter ends and Spring officially begins – the Spring Equinox. Of course, March is also that time of year when we collectively celebrate wearing “green” in order not to get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day! But on a more practical note, March is tax season, reminding us that state and federal taxes are due next month in April. That means that the vast majority of us are busy trying to pull together all our tax info so we can file on time. It also means that scammers are out in droves doing their best to con us with tax scams! And fraudsters are even busier now during the pandemic, having upped their game to take advantage of coronavirus stimulus payments and tax relief. Protect yourself! Be on the lookout for the following scams, taken from the IRS’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams Report for 2020! (See these articles for more detailed info on all the ‘dirty dozen’ scams — https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-unveils-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-2020-americans-urged-to-be-vigilant-to-these-threats-during-the-pandemic-and-its-aftermath and https://www.investopedia.com/taxes/know-latest-irs-scams/)
Phishing Scams – You receive an email / text from a fake IRS website asking for personal financial information. Please note that the IRS will never contact you via email or text re: tax matters. If the IRS needs to contact you, they will do so by letter via USPS.
Fake Charities – Phony charities with names similar to real charities contact you asking for money or your personal financial info. Use this link on IRS.gov to find legitimate charities and avoid scammers — https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search
Intimidating Impersonator Phone Calls – Con artists posing as IRS agents call and threaten you with possible arrest, deportation or cancellation of your Social Security Number if you don’t make immediate payment of taxes. Just hang up! The real IRS will not call you on the phone to ask about your tax matters.
Social Media Scams – Be careful when sharing personal info on social media. Scammers can use that info in emails / texts, pretending to be friends, family or coworkers. These types of scams can lead to tax-related identity theft. See this link to learn more about signs of tax-related identity theft — https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft.
Tax Refund & Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Scams – Con artists file false tax returns in your name in order to direct illegitimate tax refunds to themselves. The same criminal strategy has been used recently in order to steal CARES ACT stimulus payments from seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities. For important info re: tax relief and economic impact payments, see https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments.
Fraud Directed Towards Seniors – Many of the scams mentioned here are used more often to target seniors than other groups of people. The IRS warns seniors to be on the lookout for “a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information.”
Scams Targeting Non-English Speakers – A threatening phone call (listed above) is an example of scam that puts non-English speaking people at high risk to IRS scammers. Scammer robocalls can feel especially intimidating to someone who does not use English as their primary language.
Dishonest Tax Preparers – Please note that most tax preparers are honest. However, there are unscrupulous tax preparers out there who will steal your personal information. (For help in choosing a tax preparer, use this link – https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional.) Also, be on guard for scammers known as “ghost preparers” who will file a fraudulent tax return for you promising an “huge” refund. But they won’t sign the return and they don’t have a valid Preparer Tax ID Number (PTIN). Don’t go down this road!
Tax-Debt-Resolution Mills – These organizations pretend they can get you an “Offer in Compromise” to settle your IRS tax debt for pennies on the dollar. This is FALSE, and they charge you a fee for it!
Bogus Refunds & Repayment Demands – This is where a scammer uses your personal info to claim a false refund. Once that money has been deposited into your bank account, the scammer calls you, posing as an IRS agent, and demands you return the money. You are told to return the money with a gift card so that you can avoid penalties and interest because the tax refund was made to you “in error.” Legitimate IRS representatives will not call or email / text you regarding tax matters, nor will they ask you to send money to the IRS using a “gift card.”
Business Email Scams – Fraudsters seek payment for fake invoices in order to steal employee tax info or change employee direct deposit info to steal their pay.
Ransomware – This is a software program that infects your computer and makes your data inaccessible. Then, scammers demand payment in order to restore access to your files.
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
If you believe you have been the target or victim of a tax-related scam, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org or the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. You may also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470, or the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
SAVE THE DATES
SSSAP at the 3rd Annual Westside Safety and Preparedness Fair!
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, 11AM – 3PM, SSSAP will have a virtual booth at the 3rd Annual Westside Safety and Preparedness Fair. This is a FREE virtual event for West Los Angeleans to learn from local experts how to prepare for and survive a major disaster. Use this link to register for the event. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-westside-safety-and-preparedness-fair-los-angeles-tickets-136716393413
SSSAP is Going Virtual AGAIN in Collaboration with LAPL!
In February SSSAP had its first virtual library event in collaboration with Platt Library, and it was a great success! Please join us in our 2nd virtual program with Palms Rancho Park Library on April 16th at 3pm. Details of the event will be available in the April 2021 issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY!
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Although the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in-person performances are on hold during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, we are committed to continuing our education program through our videos on Zoom.
- Our most recent video, called “Robocalls, Mail Fraud, and Merlin with the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program,” was released mid-October, 2020. Besides taking a look at scams that utilize robocalls and the U.S. Postal Service, this video also explores pet scams and features our friend “Merlin, the Cat!” Watch it here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=2s
- For an overview of some of the most prevalent scams that target seniors in the United States, watch our video called “The Top Senior Scams with the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program.” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg&t=13s
Please subscribe (free of charge) to the SSSAP YouTube Channel and you’ll be notified when new videos are released! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA Together we can combat fraud!
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
*Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.