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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.

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.

Local Docs Recommend ABCs of Back-To-School Health

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Avoid potential health hazards before hitting the books

Local families are scrambling to check off their back-to-school lists, buying supplies, clothes and more. But doctors say it’s important to add one more item to that list — a checkup for your child’s health. That’s why doctors at local American Family Care and AFC/Doctors Express centers have created the ABCs of Back to School Health.

“Making sure your child is up to date on immunizations and is physically fit for school can prevent a number of problems down the line,” said Dr. Bruce Irwin, CEO of American Family Care and AFC/Doctors Express, a local medical practice. “Our clinics offer back to school physicals and immunizations daily, and we’re open late, so busy families can fit a visit into their schedules.”

Athlete Awareness:  Heat-related illnesses often strike during summer/ fall sports prep. A recent study found that athlete heat death rates are rising with 18 deaths between 2005 and 2009, and 20-22 more since 2010. High school football players account for most of the deaths.

The National Athletic Trainers Association says athletes can do their part to stay healthy in the heat and avoid dangerous conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
•    Work slowly to build up endurance in hot situations.
•    Get plenty of sleep
•    Drink lots of fluids before, during and after workouts.
•    Quick cooling is key to preventing deaths; ice baths can save lives.

Better Backpack:  Heavy backpacks can strain kids’ muscles and can cause long term damage over a period of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found the average sixth-grader carries a backpack weighing more than 18 pounds, with some reaching as much as 30 pounds. The academy recommends that backpacks weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s weight.

The AAP offers some tips for better backpacks.
•    Backpacks with shoulder straps and padded backs can better distribute the weight of a backpack. Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps on their backpack. Putting the entire weight of the backpack on one shoulder can strain muscles.
•    Organize your child’s backpack with heavier items close to the center of the back.
•    Use the available compartments to distribute items equally throughout the pack.
•    Rolling backpacks can be great for heavier loads, but your child must be able to carry it up the stairs or through inclement weather.

Clean Hands and Surfaces:  Since children are highly likely to be exposed to germs at school, here are some of the most common illnesses that strike children during the school year.
•    Meningitis and meningococcal disease
•    Influenza
•    Norovirus
•    MRSA (staph)
•    Pertussis (whooping cough)

Simple safety tips like regular hand washing and up-to-date immunizations can help prevent the spread of these infections. Local doctors say a back to school checkup can make sure your child is healthy enough for the school environment. A quick checkup offers a chance to catch up on vaccines, get a doctor’s note for necessary medications at school or get a sports physical.

(Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, National Athletics Trainers Association, National Institutes for Health, Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, U.S. News and World Report)