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Friday
Nov072014

Fraudsters Rising: IRS Impersonators Flooding the Phone Lines

Tax Law Certified SpecialistCalifornia Certified Specialist, Tax Law

by Michael Hackman
818.907.3279

 

There seems to be an uptick in phone calls from people claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, telling potential victims they owe back taxes and demanding immediate payment.  They threaten lawsuits (or worse) unless the person called makes a payment immediately.

 

Preventing Identity TheftClick the image to hear a typical IRS impersonator's message.The fraudsters are using fake names, usually something common like "John Smith" and providing fake IRS badge numbers. They sometimes seem to know the potential victims' last four social security numbers, adding another false layer of legitimacy.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says this latest wave of IRS scams is the largest officials have ever seen. According to an October report by Time Magazine, IRS impersonators have made more than 90,000 phone calls to consumers and have acquired more than $5,000,000.

 

Red Flags: How to Determine When You're Being Scammed

 

So how should you protect yourself? Consider these points when getting a potential call form the IRS 

  1. Tiny Mistakes: The caller says s/he is from Internal Revenue Services – the IRS is a single entity, not plural.

  2. Immediate Payment: The IRS always provides  an opportunity for you to question or appeal the amount you purportedly owe.

  3. Payment Methods: The IRS will not accept prepaid debit cards, nor will they ask you for your credit card over the phone.

  4. Threats: The IRS won't have the police or other law enforcement agency come to your doorstep immediately. People who truly owe large sums in back taxes go to court first. They're not going to turn off your utilities or have you deported.

  5. Communication Methods: The IRS will not send you emails (phishing scams), text messages or use any social media platform to contact you. If you do owe money to the IRS, you'll be notified via U.S. Mail.

 

Protecting Yourself From Scammers

 

There are several steps you can take to safeguard yourself from tax scams. 

  1. California Tax LawDon't answer calls from telephone numbers you don't recognize. Don't click on any links in emails that claim to be from the IRS.

  2. Never give out pin numbers to bank accounts, credit card numbers or social security information. The same scammers may call to congratulate you on having your "loan application" approved, and tell you they just need a little more information.

  3. Be suspicious of any deal that seems too good to be true.  

Report scammers to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by phone: 1.800.366.4484 or forward suspect emails to: phishing@irs.gov. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission online.

 

Michael Hackman is a Certified Specialist in Tax Law, designated by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Contact him via email: mhackman@lewitthackman.com, or via telephone: 818.907.3279 for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Monday
Oct272014

Prop 47: $950 Difference Between Felony & Misdemeanor

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

 

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

California's Proposition 47 raises interesting questions in terms of how much certain crimes will cost law-abiding citizens, vs. how much those crimes financially burden our prison system. If approved by voters, some crimes that were once considered felonies will then be reduced to misdemeanors.

They include: 

  1. Shoplifting or grand theft, if property stolen is valued under $950;

  2. Receiving stolen property, if value of the stolen goods is under $950;

  3. Forgery, fraud or bad check writing, if the forged check, draft or other document amounts to less than $950; and

  4. Personal  use of most illegal drugs. 

Here's what Proposition 47 proposes: 

  1. Classify non-serious, nonviolent crimes listed above will be classified as misdemeanors, unless the perpetrator has prior convictions for rape, murder, gun crimes or specified sex offenses;

  2. Allow approximately 10 thousand prison inmates found guilty of the above felonies to be resentenced;

  3. Require an assessment of those inmates who may be eligible for resentencing to determine whether or not they may or may not pose a risk to the public;

  4. Establish the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund (SNSF).  If Prop 47 passes, the estimated $150-250 million in savings would be appropriated for this fund.

  5. From the SNSF, allocate 25 percent of the money accrued to the Department of Education, 10 percent to the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, and the remaining 65 percent to the Board of State and Community Correction. 

Those who oppose Prop 47 tend to align with law enforcement groups. The opposition includes the California Police Chiefs Association, the state District Attorneys Association, and the California Correctional Supervisors Association. Add the California Chamber of Commerce; the state Republican Party; Senator Dianne Feinstein and media groups like the Sacramento, Fresno and Modesto Bees to those that do not endorse this proposal.

Here's why: Many opponents declare the measure has a fundamental flaw – that basing the seriousness of a crime on the value of the property involved could be disastrous. For example, opponents argue stealing a handgun worth less than $950 should not be classified a misdemeanor, since that theft may be a preparatory act to committing a more serious or violent crime. Further, theft of purses, wallets, cell phones, etc. from a victim's body should also not be considered a misdemeanor because of the potential for causing injury during the course of the theft.

The opponents hold the same argument regarding possession of date rape drugs, even if the quantity possessed is small.

Proponents for Proposition 47 do include members of law enforcement, but as individuals rather than whole groups or organizations. Those who recommend voting yes also have the backing of the California Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, the California Teachers Association, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and media organizations like the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Orange County Register.

Their reasons for voting yes are that too many people are jailed for relatively minor offenses, prisons are overcrowded, and the state spends too much on running these prisons and not enough on education.

A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California taken in September shows a sampling of 62 percent of potential voters in favor, 25 percent opposed, and 13 percent undecided on Prop 47. 

Stephen T. Holzer is a Business & Environmental Litigation Attorney. Contact him via phone: 818.907.3299, or by email: sholzer@lewitthackman.com for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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