Scams Feed

The tax world is atwitter, literally on social media and figuratively for those not addicted to the sociability component of their electronic devices, now that the Internal Revenue Service is already accepting business tax returns and will start taking 2019 tax year 1040 forms from individuals on Jan. 27. Everyone, from taxpayers to income payers to tax professionals are already at work, with most at this point gathering data in preparation for the actual filings. For tax professionals, that includes a written security plan to safeguard all the sensitive tax and financial information they handle for their clients. Tax data... Read more →


Owning a home has long been a symbol of the American dream. For some, however, homeownership turns into a nightmare. Those horrid homeowner dreams became evident in the Great Recession. In the late 1990s through the mid-2000s, artificially high home prices, questionable lending practices and an explosion of subprime mortgages to buyers who under regular lending standards would not have been given a home loan, created a housing bubble. It finally burst in 2007, leaving many homeowners broke as the loans on their properties suddenly were many thousands more than their homes were worth. Many went into foreclosure or walked... Read more →


Updated Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 Source: PhotoMIX Ltd via Pexels Yes, I know Cyber Monday has come and gone. I also realize that a lot of folks finished up their holiday shopping earlier this week. But there always are those of us who put off picking up that perfect present until the last minute. Or, as Dec. 25 nears, we just happen to see something that our spouse, parents, children or best fiend would absolutely love. So, since we seem to be perpetually logged in, we click on it and we're done. Unless our clicking leads to identity theft. Beyond... Read more →


Gift cards are great presents for family and friends. There's no worrying about sizes or misinterpreted wish list hints. Gift cards, however, are not an option to pay your taxes. That fact hasn't stopped con artists. The Internal Revenue Service says tax scams involving the prepaid pieces of plastic presents are on the rise. The tax agency says it has received many reports of taxpayers being asked to pay a fake tax bill through the purchase of gift cards. Breaking down the con: The tax scammers tend to follow the same basic script, tweaking it as needed when marks get... Read more →


Thanksgiving is still a week away. It's another month-plus until Santa puts presents under trees. But holiday shoppers have been hitting the stores and online hard thanks to early Black Friday sales. In fact, more than half of consumers have already started this year's holiday shopping and nearly a quarter of planned purchases have been made, according to the annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Still, there's plenty of shopping and shoppers to do it out there. That means that retailers still are looking for help to handle the remaining seasonal shopping... Read more →


Yes, that could be a real IRS revenue officer knocking on your door if live in Arkansas, Texas or Wisconsin and have ignored prior notices to pay your overdue tax bill. Have you been a bit remiss in meeting your tax duties? If so and you live in Arkansas, Texas or Wisconsin, you've likely or soon could find an Internal Revenue Service agent on your doorstep. The IRS has announced that these in-person visits are part of a larger effort by the agency to, it its words, ensure fairness in the tax system. The special compliance efforts will encompass both... Read more →


These ghostly trick-or-treating dogs are more cuddly than scary. But ghost tax preparers can be terrifying. Don't let one haunt you. There's one thing that scares the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers alike. Tax scams. One such ploy that popped up during the summer is making rounds again this Halloween season in a new, shall we say, costume. It's the one where the calling crook pretends to be from the Social Security Administration. "In the latest twist on a scam related to Social Security numbers, scammers claim to be able to suspend or cancel the victim's SSN. It's yet another... Read more →


How many email and snail mail charity solicitations have you received in the last couple of weeks? In our real and virtual mailboxes, it's already nearing 100. Yes, the end-of-year donation season is shifting into high gear. Unfortunately, that also means that criminals will be trying to take advantage of people's generous tendencies. Such nefarious attempts are why this week the Internal Revenue Service is participating in the second annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (ICFAW). ICFAW is led by a coalition of over 40 charities, regulators, law enforcers, representative bodies and other not-for-profit stakeholders. Awareness is key to stopping... Read more →


I've dealt with bill collectors over the years. Fortunately for me, it's been on behalf of a couple of relatives who found themselves in over their heads financially. Fortunately for my family members, after much — way too much — and often contentious back and forth, we were able to come to a satisfactory resolution. That's why I tend to share former Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson's skepticism about the way that private collection agencies, or PCAs in tax-acronymese, interact with folks who owe taxes. But despite my, Olson's and many others' lingering distrust of these operations, private debt collect is... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners have made major strides in recent years in fighting tax-related identity theft. Much of the effort has been in educating taxpayers and businesses about ways to recognize and avoid scams and other tax ID schemes. The IRS also has improved the way it works with taxpayers who do fall victim to identity thieves. Now Uncle Sam is expanding a way that taxpayers can be more proactive in fighting identity theft. The IRS' opt-in Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) now is available for the 2020 tax-filing season to taxpayers in... Read more →


Photo by creditdebitpro Voluntary compliance is the backbone of the U.S. tax system. But when that doesn't work out as Uncle Sam hopes, he knows the Internal Revenue Service has ways to get the money. One of the most drastic ramifications of unpaid tax is the loss of other property. In extreme unpaid tax cases, the federal government places a lien on delinquent taxpayers' other assets. This ensures the Treasury gets something of value to offset the overdue tax bill. Criminals know this process, too. That's why, warns the IRS, we all need to be on alert for a new... Read more →


Law enforcement officers across five U.S. federal agencies successfully concluded a four-month investigation this month with the arrest of 281 people allegedly involved in global email scams. The scams, officially known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens. Most of the alleged cyber criminals, 167, were arrested in Nigeria. Insert your own fraudulent prince email comments here. Another 74 people in the United States were taken into custody. The remaining arrests were made in France, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.... Read more →


One of my previous jobs was an office manager. I was in charge of reviewing expenditures before they were approved and then making sure they were paid once the services were provided. Every month or so I'd get an invoice for some office supplies. Every month I threw it in the trash. It was from a scam company that tried to sneak the paperwork into my to-pay file. Occasionally, people representing these "suppliers" would call about the allegedly overdue bill. When I told them I had forwarded the bill to our legal department, they quickly hung up. That was 30... Read more →


Yes, I know I've been fixated of late on computer security. First there was the ransomware warning. Then the new Internal Revenue Service impersonation tax identity theft scheme appeared. Part of the reason such topics have captured my fancy recently is that for the last week I've been away from my office a lot. That's meant doing much of my work on other systems. Even though I trust them, I always get a twinge of fear that somehow, someone will hack me. So thanks for bearing with me on my repetitive focus on computer — and tax — security, as... Read more →


Those mask pull-off scenes from Mission: Impossible movies are always fun, but real-life impersonators pretending to be from the IRS could cost you dearly. (Screenshot of movie mask reveal montage on YouTube) We're getting closer to the Oct. 15 filing deadline for those who got an extension back in April to fill out their returns. You can tell not only by the countdown clock ticking away on the ol' blog (shameless plug: it's in the narrow right-hand column), but also because tax scammers are back. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are warning taxpayers and tax professionals... Read more →


Ransomware has evolved over the last three decades from a targeted cyber attack distributed on literal floppy discs to a major electronic security crisis for individuals, companies and governments. This type of malware typically locks out computer users and locks down their systems until the cyber hijackers are paid to return access to the information. In 2017, WannaCry ransomware went global, infecting more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Most recently, almost two dozen Texas towns were victims of a coordinated attack. The Lone Star State electronic lockouts follow patterns set by ransomware demands in Florida, Maryland and New York.... Read more →


After the vigils for victims of mass tragedies, efforts to help the victims and survivors appear. Make sure your gifts to such campaigns, especially online crowdfunding ones, go to those who need help and not scammers. (Photo by Catholic Church of England, Mazur/CatholicNewsUK via Flickr CC) Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In an eight-day span, three separate shootings by lone gunmen in these cities left a total of 35 people dead, 54 injured. Residents in these cities are dealing with unspeakable horror and grief. Most of the rest of us in the United States and across the world... Read more →


"Dead Again" was a fun thriller, but the concept isn't amusing if the IRS is holding your tax refund for the second time in two years because it still thinks you're deceased. Death and taxes are inevitable, but that's not the eventual convergence yet for one woman. Shakira Evans of Philadelphia, however, is having trouble convincing the Internal Revenue Service of that. Worse, it's the second consecutive year that the 22-year-old mother of two has had to fight for her tax refund from the IRS, which still thinks she's dead. Dead again: Evans went through this same thing last year,... Read more →


My mother is almost 85. She's no Betty White, but all things considered she doing darn well. Especially when it comes to cognition and attitude. She listens to an audio book a week, keeps up with the news and her favorite TV game show (Jeopardy) and doesn't take any guff from unsolicited callers trying to sell her stuff. Or worse. Unfortunately, that latter instance is not the case for many in my mom's demographic. A recent Marketplace series examined how the aging brain may become more susceptible to financial scams. Among the findings, data suggest that as we get older,... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →