Beware of the IRS/FBI- Themed Scam.

Source: IRS.gov

The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to avoid a new phishing scheme that impersonates the IRS and the FBI as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.

The scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to select a “here” link to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.

“This is a new twist on an old scheme,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call.”

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industries – working in partnership as the Security Summit – currently are conducting an awareness campaign called Don’t Take the Bait, that includes warning tax professionals about the various types of phishing scams, including ransomware. The IRS highlighted this issue in an Aug. 1 news release IR-2017-125 Don’t Take the Bait, Step 4: Defend against Ransomware.
Victims should not pay a ransom. Paying it further encourages the criminals, and frequently the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid.

Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Forward any IRS-themed scams to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

If you are a tax professional and registered e-Services user who disclosed any credential information, contact the e-Services Help Desk to reset your e-Services password. If you disclosed information and taxpayer data was stolen, contact your local stakeholder liaison

New Opportunity to Continue Serving

Source: blog.socialsecurity.gov

This article is taken from Social Security Matters Website.

 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the sacrifices of the men and women who proudly serve our country. We are committed to helping you secure today and tomorrow. The ending of your military career can be the beginning of a rewarding one in public service.

SSA offers you the opportunity to continue serving the American people after your transition from military to civilian life. You selflessly served your country, and now we want you as part of SSA’s family. Our agency offers several career options in many diverse fields. Of all the employees we hired in fiscal year 2017, 25 percent were veterans.

We will help you prepare for your new career with SSA. Through our Veterans Employment Initiative, we provide tools, training, and information on all the employee benefits and services available to you as a new hire. You will have access to veteran-related training, reasonable accommodations, and regular contact with other veteran employees.

Veteran’s Preference is available to certain veterans who were discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions. In accordance with the Veterans’ Preference law, you may be eligible for priority placement over other eligible applicants.  In addition, you may be eligible for non-competitive selection through special hiring authorities for veterans.

Through a partnership with our agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veteran employees may be eligible to participate in the VA’s GI Bill On-the-Job Training program that provides a stipend, in addition to their salary, while completing on-the-job training.  Eligible disabled veterans can also gain valuable work experience to help them transition to the civilian work environment through the VA’s Nonpaid Work Experience Internship Program.

Our Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Council serves as an advisory body to the Commissioner of Social Security, executives, and managers on veteran issues.  The council also supports our veteran employees with mentorship, support, and other services.

I invite you to consider joining our SSA family. We will welcome you with open arms and the honor and respect you deserve. For more information, please visit our Opportunities for Veterans webpage designed just for you.

Keep an eye on Fake Debt Collectors!!

source: www.consumer.ftc.gov

Fake debt collectors will say anything that will scare you into paying them. Today, the FTC stopped imposters who pretended to be lawyers. They threatened people with lawsuits and jail time to collect debts that didn’t exist.

These imposters often used the names of real small businesses or names that were very similar to those of existing businesses. When these real businesses started receiving calls from people trying to reach the “debt collectors” or complaining about abusive practices, they realized that their businesses’ name was being used in a scam. So they filed complaints with the FTC.

Fake debt collectors try many tricks to get you to pay. This advice will help you handle debt collectors’ calls:

  1. If a debt collector says you owe a debt, before you agree to pay anything ask for a validation notice that says how much money you owe. By law, they have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, that’s a sign that you’re dealing with a fake debt collector.
  2. If a debt collector threatens you with jail time, hang up the phone. They’re violating the law and you should report them to us.
  3. If you own a small business, it might be a good idea to research online occasionally to check if anyone else is using your business’ name. And if you start receiving complaints about practices that your business is not engaged in,

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

Summer Scams Per IRS

Source: IRS.gov

IRS Cautions Taxpayers to Watch for Summertime Scams

EFTPS Scam

A new scam which is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has been reported nationwide. In this ruse, con artists call to demand immediate tax payment. The caller claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters mailed to the taxpayer were returned as undeliverable. The scammer then threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card. Victims are told that the debit card is linked to the EFTPS when, in reality, it is controlled entirely by the scammer. Victims are warned not to talk to their tax preparer, attorney or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

“Robo-call” Messages

The IRS does not call and leave prerecorded, urgent messages asking for a call back. In this tactic, scammers tell victims that if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Those who do respond are told they must make immediate payment either by a specific prepaid debit card or by wire transfer.

Private Debt Collection Scams

The IRS recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years. The IRS would have previously contacted taxpayers about their tax debt.

Scams Targeting People with Limited English Proficiency

Taxpayers with limited English proficiency have been recent targets of phone scams and email phishing schemes that continue to occur across the country. Con artists often approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation among other things. They tell their victims they owe the IRS money and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” or via a phishing email.

Tell Tale Signs of a Scam:

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. The IRS will usually first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

How to Know It’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as:

  • when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill,
  • to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or,
  • to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.

State Forms and Publications

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Search for your State Refund

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2016 Filing Season Statistics

Source: Drake software

Here are some 2016 Filing Season Statistics. The IRS processed 152,250,000 Individual Income Tax Returns. Which is 1% more than 2015. 131,851,000 returns were e-filed. Tax professional e-filed returns increased by 0.4%, while Do-it-yourself e-filed returns increased by 5.4%. $317,620,000,000 in refunds were issued by the Treasury. $2860 was the average refund in 2016, which is 2.3% more than 2015. 80% of all refunds were issued by direct deposit. 507,723,789 was the number of times IRS.gov was visited, which is 3.6% more than 2015.

Good News Concerning IRS Phone Scams

Source: IRS.gov

Eight Individuals Arrested for Fraud in IRS Phone Scams

WASHINGTON — J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced the arrests of eight individuals based upon indictments that charged eleven individuals who were allegedly involved in schemes to impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents in order to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees.  Two of the eleven individuals were charged in an indictment for their fraudulent conduct last year.

Agents representing TIGTA and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSAOIG) arrested eight suspects in Miami, FL on April 25, 2017, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for almost $8.8 million in schemes that defrauded more than 7,000 victims.

“These arrests demonstrate that TIGTA and its law enforcement partners continue to make significant progress in our investigations related to the IRS impersonation scam that continues to sweep the country.  Over the past three years, this scam has resulted in reported taxpayer losses of more than $55 million,” the Inspector General said.  “The scammers are relentless and so are we,” he added.  “Our investigators will not rest until we have brought those responsible for this scheme to justice.”

The eight individuals arrested are: Yosvany Padilla, Elio Carballo Cruz, Esequiel Bravo Diaz, Ricardo Fontanella Caballero, Alejandro Valdes, Angel Chapotin Carrillo, Alfredo Echevarria Rios, and Joel Leon Pando.  The criminal indictments were filed with the following courts: the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on April 4, 2017; and on April 19, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi (Joel Leon Pando).  Two other individuals, Dennis Delgado Caballero and Jeniffer Valerino Nunez, were previously arrested in May of 2016 based upon Criminal Complaints that were filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas. One suspect, Lazaro Hernandez Fleitas, remains at large.

According to the court documents, the suspects knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud by falsely impersonating IRS agents and demanding money under such false pretenses.  Victims received telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who told them the IRS would arrest them if they did not make payment immediately.  The callers made these threats and used other methods of intimidation to persuade the victims to wire money, utilizing MoneyGram, Walmart2Walmart Money Transfer, and other wire services.

“No legitimate employee of the United States Treasury Department or the Internal Revenue Service will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart2Walmart Money Transfer, or any other money wiring method, for any debt to the IRS or the Department of the Treasury,” George said.

“Nor will the Department of the Treasury demand that anyone pay a debt or secure one by using iTunes cards or other prepaid debit cards,” he said.  “If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) scam reporting page to report the call.”

Investigators verified the identity of the suspects and their activities through a variety of investigative methods.  TIGTA and SSAOIG Special Agents conducted the investigations that led to the arrests.

IRS Has Refunds Totaling $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2013 Federal Income Tax Return

Source: IRS.gov
This is an article from the IRS Website.
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling more than $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1 million taxpayers who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return.
To collect the money, taxpayers must file a 2013 tax return with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline, Tuesday, April 18.
“We’re trying to connect a million people with their share of 1 billion dollars in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People across the nation haven’t filed tax returns to claim these refunds, and their window of opportunity is closing soon. Students and many others may not realize they’re due a tax refund. Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”
The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2013 to be $763; half of the refunds are more than $763 and half are less.
In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2013 tax returns, the window closes April 18, 2017. The law requires taxpayers to properly address mail and postmark the tax return by that date.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or a state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.
By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2013. Many low-and-moderate income workers may have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2013, the credit was worth as much as $6,044. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2013 were:
• $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
• $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
• $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
• $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.
Current and prior year tax forms (such as the Tax Year 2013 Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free: 800- TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2013, 2014 or 2015 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.
Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer should go to IRS.gov and use the “Get Transcript Online” tool to obtain a Wage and Income transcript. Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their 2013 income. A Wage and Income transcript shows data from information returns we receive such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. Taxpayers can use the information on the transcript to file their tax return.
State-by-state estimates of individuals who may be due 2013 tax refunds:
State or District # of Median Total
Individuals Potential Potential
Refund Refunds
 
Alabama                               18,100 $729 $17,549,000
Alaska                                     4,700 $917 $5,665,000
Arizona                                24,800 $650 $22,642,000
Arkansas                                9,900 $722 $9,571,000
California                            97,200 $696 $93,406,000
Colorado                             20,200 $699 $19,454,000
Connecticut                         11,500 $846 $12,691,000
Delaware                               4,300 $776 $4,321,000
District of Columbia            3,200 $762 $3,341,000
Florida                                 66,900 $776 $67,758,000
Georgia                                34,400 $671 $32,082,000
Hawaii                                   6,500 $793 $6,876,000
Idaho                                      4,500 $619 $3,919,000
Illinois                                40,000 $834 $42,673,000
Indiana                                21,700 $788 $22,060,000
Iowa                                    10,200 $808 $10,193,000
Kansas                                  11,100 $746 $10,700,000
Kentucky                             12,900 $772 $12,627,000
Louisiana                            20,300 $767 $21,209,000
Maine                                     4,000 $715 $3,645,000
Maryland                            22,200 $770 $23,080,000
Massachusetts                  23,000 $838 $24,950,000
Michigan                            33,600 $763 $33,998,000
Minnesota                           15,600 $691 $14,544,000
Mississippi                         10,400 $702 $10,041,000
Missouri                             22,400 $705 $20,787,000
Montana                               3,600 $727 $3,480,000
Nebraska                               5,300 $745 $5,084,000
Nevada                                 12,300 $753 $12,078,000
New Hampshire                  4,400 $892 $4,930,000
New Jersey                         29,900 $873 $33,207,000
New Mexico                          8,100 $753 $8,162,000
New York                            54,700 $847 $59,416,000
North Carolina                  29,800 $656 $26,874,000
North Dakota                      2,900 $888 $3,209,000
Ohio                                    36,000 $749 $34,547,000
Oklahoma                           17,700 $773 $17,979,000
Oregon                               15,500 $658 $14,188,000
Pennsylvania                   39,400 $835 $41,078,000
Rhode Island                     2,900 $796 $2,906,000
South Carolina                 12,100 $674 $11,267,000
South Dakota                     2,700 $823 $2,709,000
Tennessee                         19,500 $743 $18,829,000
Texas                               104,700 $829 $115,580,000
Utah                                     7,900 $667 $7,443,000
Vermont                              2,000 $747 $1,859,000
Virginia                             29,000 $752 $29,578,000
Washington                      27,600 $829 $30,330,000
West Virginia                     5,000 $855 $5,258,000
Wisconsin                          12,700 $675 $11,619,000
Wyoming                             2,800 $911 $3,189,000
Totals                            1,042,100 $763 $1,054,581,000
 
Source: IRS.gov