RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

The Telltale Signs of an Uncle Sam Impersonator

August 17, 2015 2:15 am

Following the emergence of new variations of widespread tax scams, taxpayers should remain on high alert to protect themselves from the ever-evolving array of deceitful tactics scammers use, warns the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These schemes — which can occur over the phone, in e-mails or through letters with authentic looking letterhead — try to trick taxpayers into providing personal financial information or scare people into making a false tax payment that ends up with the criminal.

Scammers posing as IRS agents first targeted those they viewed as most vulnerable, such as older Americans, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. These criminals have expanded their net and are now targeting virtually anyone.

In a new variation, scammers alter what appears on your telephone caller ID to make it seem like they are with the IRS or another agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. They use fake names, titles and badge numbers. They use online resources to get your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official. They even go as far as copying official IRS letterhead for use in email or regular mail.

Brazen scammers will even provide their victims with directions to the nearest bank or business where the victim can obtain a means of payment, such as a debit card. And in another new variation of these scams, con artists may then provide an actual IRS address where the victim can mail a receipt for the payment — all in an attempt to make the scheme look official.

The most common theme with these tricks seems to be fear. Scammers try to scare people into reacting immediately without taking a moment to think through what is actually happening. These scam artists often angrily threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation or other similarly unpleasant things. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests, sometimes through “robo-calls,” via phone or email. The emails will often contain a fake IRS document with a telephone number or email address for your reply.

It is important to remember the official IRS website is IRS.gov. Taxpayers are urged not to be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. Taxpayers should never provide personal information, financial or otherwise, to suspicious websites or strangers calling out of the blue.

Remember, the IRS will never:


• Angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

• Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

And if you think you’re the target of an IRS impersonation scam:

• If you actually do owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

• If you know you don’t owe taxes or do not immediately believe that you do, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.

• If you’ve been targeted by any scam, be sure to 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.

Source: IRS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners: What to Do Before and After a Hurricane Hits

August 17, 2015 2:15 am

Though it is wise to brace your property against hurricane damage, the unfortunate reality is that many homes are not prepared. According to a recent ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Hurricane Preparedness Survey, 90 percent of hurricane restoration servicers surveyed believe homeowners are ill-prepared when it comes to hurricanes. The same amount agreed that homeowners can spend up to twice as much on repairs if they do not take simple precautions in advance.

"We can't stress enough the importance of having a plan," says Kim Brooks, president and CEO of ServiceMaster DSI. "Unfortunately, people often don't take weather warnings seriously, and once they do, panic sets in and they run out of time to take care of simple precautions to secure their property. Knowing what to do before and after a major storm, and knowing when to call in the professionals for assistance, including who to call, can help home and business owners avoid costly damage to their properties in the long run."

Ahead of and after a major hurricane or storm, Brooks and the team of experts at ServiceMaster Restore suggest a three-part strategy to help reduce potential damage, expense and inconvenience.

• Prepare in Advance – Don't wait for weather warnings to create an action plan. For instance, take steps now to fasten the roof to the frame of the home. Once severe weather is predicted, begin boarding up windows and ensuring rain gutters are clear. Secure loose outdoor items, have a fresh supply of batteries on hand, as well as emergency supplies such as water, medication and non-perishable food. Take photos and make lists to document essential possessions. Most importantly, have a plan for post-hurricane repairs and information on hand for professional restoration companies to help mitigate damages in a timely manner.

• Assess Hurricane Aftermath
– Safety after a hurricane or heavy storm is critical. Debris, live power lines and electrically charged water are just a few of the safety risks to keep in mind. Evaluate the situation and structural damage before entering the home or attempting DIY cleanup, which can cause more damage and lead to additional expenses. When possible, water cleanup should begin right away (within 24-48 hours) to avoid mold, rust and further damage. For instance, remove wet area rugs to prevent seepage of water up drywalls and discard damp, non-valuable items to help avoid potential mold contamination. To mitigate loss, contact a professional restoration company immediately.

• Recognize Lingering Problems – Be on the look-out for mold following excessive water or flooding. Mold needs wet conditions to grow and is most often detected by sight or smell. If you notice mold spores or a musty smell in a room or area, remove any lingering wet items. Don't rely on products that promise to kill mold, including bleach, as it only causes mold to go dormant. The only way to truly get rid of mold is to cut it out of an area - an undertaking best left to professionals to avoid further costly damage and inadequate cleaning.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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