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IRS Repeats Warning about Phone Scams

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration continue to hear from taxpayers who have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS.

Based on the 90,000 complaints that TIGTA has received through its telephone hotline, to date, TIGTA has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.

“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS.”

Additionally, it is important for taxpayers to know that the IRS:

  • Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
  • Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations
  • Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.

Potential phone scam victims may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

Other characteristics of these scams include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

You can reblog the IRS tax scam alert via Tumblr.

Africans Living in the U.S. Connect with Culture through New Network

Spokesperson for Africa Magic GO, Juliet Ibrahim

Spokesperson for Africa Magic GO, Juliet Ibrahim

Interview by Naomi K. Bonman

Africa Magic GO has recently launched in the United States. The network is similar to “Hulu”, in offering the latest film and television series from the Continent of Africa. Now Africans living in the U.S., and other African culture lovers can connect with the African culture by tuning in via their computer and mobile devices.

This new service is available at just $8 a month where customers can stream hundreds of movies and TV shows. African Magic GO also helps people tap into the prolific offerings of the world’s largest film industry, Nollywood, as well as productions from other parts of Africa. To assist in getting the word out, popular Ghanaian actress, Juliet Ibrahim, is one of the new spokespeople for the network.

In addition to acting, Miss Ibrahim is a business-oriented person who proudly owns Envoque Beauty Parlor, House of Glamour boutique, Dolfins Modeling Agency, and Jewels Productions. She also recently delved into music and is soon to debut her album. In December 2011, the actress launched her Juliet Ibrahim Foundation (JIF) to start an awareness campaign about kidney cancer. The JIF is aimed at helping Ghanaians and other West African citizens to know their status and prevent kidney cancer from getting to the incurable stage. JIF is poised to help save lives and put smiles on the faces of the less fortunate living with kidney cancer but can’t afford to handle their bills.

Question and Answer with Miss Juliet:

Naomi K. Bonman: What inspired you to become involved with Africa Magic GO?

Juliet Ibrahim: Africa Magic is a major brand in Africa. It is a privilege to be a part of their new product Africa Magic GO, which enables Africans in the Diaspora to stay in touch with their roots while living abroad. Finally, my fans living abroad can get to watch my exclusive movies, TV shows and TV series way before the movie comes out on DVD. It’s a good brand to be associated with as a celebrity from Africa. For my fans reading this article, they can log on to www.africamagicgo.com and register and watch one of my latest movies on there is called “Blurred Lines.”

Naomi K. Bonman: What projects are you currently working on?

Juliet Ibrahim: I just wrapped filming my second personal movie production called “Shattered Romance,” and it’s a project I am so proud of. It features both Nigerian and Ghanaian actors. I am also promoting my new music video “It’s Over Now,” which is enjoying a lot of airplay currently. Lastly, I’ve been on a campaign to educate the public and create awareness for my kidney cancer awareness foundation; it’s been successful so far.

Naomi K. Bonman: Do you have any upcoming plans on doing more work here in the States?

Juliet Ibrahim: Certainly! I intend to work here in the States and am very open to offers and various opportunities here. I am not limited to working only in Africa. I am currently looking for an amazing PR person and manager out here in the U.S. so we get a lot of work done. Juliet Ibrahim is a brand that I believe needs to expand and be known worldwide. I have plans of launching my NGO in the United States as well; it’s already been registered out here.

For more information on the network, visit www.africamagicgo.com. To read more on Juliet Ibrahim visit www.julietibrahim.net.

DOOGIE POOL-OOZA END OF SUMMER FUN FOR CANINES AND HUMANS ALIKE

doggie pool dayONTARIO, CA – As the dog days of summer come to an end and the regular summer swim season closes, San Bernardino County Regional Parks hosts its Doggie Pool-ooza event at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario on Saturday, September 6th. During this annual event owners can bring their four legged pals, who have had to endure the summer in a fur coat, for one last dip in the cool pool.

The event is sponsored by the Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital, the VCA Central Animal Hospital, and Ontario Spay and Neuter, who will be providing discounted nail trimming for $5 and $15 micro-chipping. The event will also include vendor booths, Li’l Dog Races and other contests, such as the K-9 Swimsuit Competition, Talent Show and Barking contest. There will be demonstrations on pet first-aid and a Humane Society workshop. Don’t miss the Disc Dogs Frisbee Show at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

If you don’t already have a pet, there will be on-site adoption opportunities from Animals R First Fund, Grey Save, Rescue Works!, Upland Animal Services, and Hope to Home for Cats. There will be a food truck area for all human attendees, including the Baby’s Bad-Ass Burgers, the Bakery Truck, California Grill Truck, Cousin’s Maine Lobster, and the Rolling Sushi Truck. To cool the humans off, Snowie’s California will have their shaved ice on sale including a syrup station to put your own flavors on the icy treat.

Friends of Regional Parks will there be collecting slightly used/clean blankets, bags of dry dog food, and other dog supplies to be donated to local pet shelters. Each item donated will enter participants into a drawing for fabulous pet prizes.

Canine participants must be six-months-old, have a current license and proof of up-to-date vaccinations, and must be on a six-foot leash when not in the pool.

Entry fee is $5 per person and $1 per canine participant, parking is free with admission. The event is on Saturday, September 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park. The park is located at 800 North Archibald Avenue, Ontario, Ca 91764. For more information call the San Bernardino Regional Parks Department at (909) 387-2461.