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Entries in fraud prevention (2)

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.

Thursday
Sep272012

California Home Care Services: Senior Fraud Prevention

Estate Planning & Trust Attorney

 

 

by Kira S. Masteller
818.907.3244

 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, elder abuse and senior fraud are common crimes because of several factors: 

  1. Senior citizens tend to have valuable assets and good credit. 

  2. They were generally raised to be more polite – many seniors have a hard time saying "no" or just hanging up the telephone when someone is still talking, selling or conning. 

  3. Our elders are less likely to report a fraud or theft, either because they're embarrassed to have been swindled by someone they trusted, or because they're not sure how to proceed with a report or pursue legal action.

Senior Fraud & Elder AbuseNumber of senior fraud incidents reported in the media from April through June, in 2008 and 2010.So how do you prevent yourself or your loved ones from falling victim to elder exploitation or fraud?

An FBI web page lists a variety of Common Fraud Schemes that target seniors, involving everything from bogus health tests to medical equipment fraud, to investment scams and telemarketing crimes. But for this blog, we're going to focus on financial fraud that arises from elderly home care. 

Home Care Services and Elder Abuse

For many elders, living at home with a little or full-time daily assistance is a preferable alternative to moving into a nursing home. But if you're choosing a caregiver for yourself or for a loved one, there are some things you should know to prevent exploitation or fraud.

  1. Current California law requires background checks for employees of community care facilities – but NOT for home caregivers. Look for an agency certified by Medicare that meets federal requirements for health and safety, and ask for references, preferably from doctors and other health care professionals. 

  2. Inventory the jewelry and take photographs of the family valuables, particularly if they're small and easily hidden in a pocket. Keep them locked up, and don't keep a lot of cash in the home. 

  3. Shred your mail (especially applications for credit cards), old checkbooks and any other items containing personal information, with a crisscross-cut shredder. 

  4. Have monthly bank statements sent to a family member, CPA or some other professional advisor. Having a second set of eyes reviewing transactions will help stop thieves immediately. Fraudulent withdrawals on an account can reoccur for months without being noticed. 

  5. Don't share computer passwords with anyone, and make your passwords difficult to guess. How many of us use the same password for a number of websites, and how many of us use obvious passwords based on family member names, birthdates, pet names, etc?  

Remember, a home care provider, whether needed on a temporary or full-time basis, is hopefully a person that you like and will eventually trust. But don't trust too soon, and don't trust the provider with anything to do with your finances, estate, or physical access to valuables.

Elder abuse and senior fraud can be prevented with common sense and vigilance.

 

Kira S. Masteller is a Gift Tax, Trust and Estate Planning Attorney. Contact her at 818.990.2120.

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.

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120