ASK THE CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT TAX AND PAYROLL TAX ATTORNEY – PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM COVID-19 SCAMS
By Robert S. Schriebman
One June 8, 2020 the IRS published a warning to the American people of new COVID-19 scams and scams to steal Economic Impact Payments (EIP). The IRS issued press release IR-2020-115. In this article I will inform you of the latest schemes and what you can do should you happen to be a victim.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig and the heads of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and together with an international network of cyber sleuths, warn: “there truly is no place for criminals to hide.”
COVID-19 Related Scams
These crooks are both smart and sophisticated. They do not mind spending substantial funds of their own to create the image of legitimacy. Their scams involve setting up fake charities where they can solicit donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by the coronavirus. These scammers are also offering opportunities to invest early in companies working on a vaccine for COVID-19 and promising your investment will skyrocket in value. These promotions take on the guise of “research reports” and make predictions of a specific “target price.” These schemes relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited information available to the public.
There has also been a huge increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts, and links. These schemes use keywords such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “Stimulus.” The aim of these schemes is to reach large numbers of the public. Their objective is to obtain personal identifying information or financial account information that will include your account numbers and passwords. The IRS warns that most of these new schemes are actively playing on the fear and unknown of COVID-19 and stimulus payments.
If I may offer my personal reflections: whenever I see an investment opportunity sent over the internet, through my email, and USPS delivered advertisement, I ask myself why are these people reaching out to me? We do not know each other, but all of sudden they are offering me the investment of a lifetime. Some of the mail is very slick such as, “Bob, Open Immediately!” or “Mr. Schriebman, may we have your response immediately?” You get the idea. These are enough to make me very suspicious and I get that “old feeling” to tread lightly. I delete the email and throw the advertisement in the trash. I work too hard to give my money to strangers.
Reporting COVID-19 Frauds
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721. Hotline staffers will take your information and it will be reviewed by law enforcement officials. You can also report fraud or the theft of your EIP benefits to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. These reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV. Do not engage scammers online or on the phone.
These truly are the times that try our collective souls. We must all be alert. Alert to protect ourselves from being infected by COVID-19 and alert for internet schemes designed to steal our meager survival benefits as well as our life savings. If we remain alert, then the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt will be as relevant today as they were in the days of the Great Depression, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 40 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments. Mr. Schriebman is in private practice. He is not affiliated in any way with the EDD and he is not employed by the EDD or any other agency of the State of California.
Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
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