THE EVERETT ADVOCATE – FRiDAy, July 24, 2020 Page 15 T MassFiscal responds to state’s 17 percent unemployment rate, worst in the nation recover and get workers back he Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance (MassFiscal) recently issued the following statement in response to news that Massachusetts has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 17.4 percent. This is the highest unemployment rate for the state since 1976. Over the past several months, MassFiscal has consistently warned lawmakers on the economic dangers of raising taxes and asked them to instead focus on ways to help the economy “DIRTY DOZEN” | FROM PAGE 14 unsolicited contact by telephone, text, social media, e-mail or in person using a variety of tactics. Bogus websites use names like those of legitimate charities to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information. They might even claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. Taxpayers should be particularly wary of charities with names like nationally known organizations. Legitimate charities will provide their Employer Identification Number (EIN), if requested, which can be used to verify their legitimacy. Taxpayers can find legitimate and qualified charities with the search tool on IRS.gov. Threatening impersonator phone calls: IRS impersonation scams come in many forms. A common one remains bogus threatening phone calls from a criminal claiming to be with the IRS. The scammer attempts to instill fear and urgency in the potential victim. In fact, the IRS will never threaten a taxpayer or surprise him or her with a demand for immediate payment. Phone scams or “vishing” (voice phishing) pose a major threat. Scam phone calls, including those threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a bogus tax bill, are reported year-round. These calls often take the form of a robocall (a text-tospeech recorded message with instructions for returning the call). The IRS will never demand immediate payment, threaten, ask for financial information over the phone or call about an unexpected refund or EIP. Taxpayers should contact the real IRS if they worry about having a tax problem. Social media scams: Taxon the job. “The last time Massachusetts workers faced such extreme job loss was in 1976. Elvis was still alive and Star Wars hadn’t yet been released. Voters were frustrated enough to vote for Jimmy Carter for President and his big-government, pro-tax policies led to four more years of continued job loss and economic misery. Ultimately, it paved the way for eight years of Ronald Reagan. You would think that payers need to protect themselves against social media scams, which frequently use events like COVID-19 to try tricking people. Social media enables anyone to share information with anyone else on the Internet. Scammers use that information as ammunition for a wide variety of scams. These include e-mails where scammers impersonate someone’s family, friends or coworkers. Social media scams have also led to tax-related identity theft. The basic element of social media scams is convincing a potential victim that he or she is dealing with a trustworthy friend via e-mail, text or social media messaging. Using personal information, a scammer might e-mail a potential victim and include a link to something of interest to the recipient which contains malware intended to commit more crimes. Scammers also infiltrate their victim’s e-mails and cell phones to go after their friends and family with fake e-mails that appear to be real and text messages soliciting, for example, small donations to fake charities that are appealing to the victims. Economic Impact Payment or refund theft: The IRS has made great strides against refund fraud and theft in recent years, but they remain an ongoing threat. Criminals this year also turned their attention to stealing EIPs as provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Much of this stems from identity theft whereby criminals file false tax returns or supply other bogus information to the IRS to divert refunds to wrong addresses or bank accounts. The IRS recently warned nursing homes and other care facilities that EIPs generally belong to the recipients, not the organizations providing the care. This came following concerns that people reason enough for lawmakers to avoid any tax increases with less than two weeks before the legislative session is set to expire, but sadly it’s not,” said MassFiscal Spokesperson/Board Member Paul Craney. He added, “Massachusetts is now suffering from the worst unemployment numbers in the country. Usually when we come in number one, Beacon Hill leaders call in the duck boats and throw a parade. Instead, the State Senand businesses might be taking advantage of vulnerable populations who received the payments. These payments do not count as a resource for determining eligibility for Medicaid and other federal programs. They also do not count as income in determining eligibility for these programs. (See IR-2020-121 for more info.) Taxpayers can consult the Coronavirus Tax Relief page of IRS.gov for assistance in getting their EIPs. Anyone who believes they might be a victim of identity theft should consult the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft on IRS.gov. Senior fraud: Senior citizens and those who care about them need to be on the alert for tax scams targeting older Americans. Along with the Department of Justice and FBI, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), among others, the IRS recognizes the pervasiveness of fraud targeting older Americans. Seniors are more likely to be targeted and victimized by scammers. Financial abuse of seniors is a problem among personal and professional relationships. Anecdotal evidence across professional services indicates that elder fraud goes down substantially when the service provider knows a trusted friend or family member is taking an interest in the senior’s affairs. Older Americans are becoming more comfortable with evolving technologies, such as social media. Unfortunately, that gives scammers another means of taking advantage. Phishing scams linked to COVID-19 have been a major threat this filing season. Seniors need to be alert for a continuing surge of fake e-mails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information. Scams targeting non-Enate passed a new tax scheme which allows cities and towns to circumvent Proposition 2½. The House is eager to see their regressive gas tax hike go through, and the Governor’s office still reaffirms its support for a regional gas tax scheme called TCI [Transportation Climate Initiative], despite the fact that not a single other state wants to join.” “With only 11 days to go, it’s time for State House leaders to end their pre-Coronavirus fantasies of higher taxglish speakers: IRS impersonators and other scammers also target groups with limited English proficiency. These scams are often threatening in nature. Some scammers also target those potentially receiving an EIP and request personal or financial information from the taxpayer. Phone scams pose a major threat to people with limited access to information, including individuals not entirely comfortable with the English language. These calls frequently take the form of a “robocall” (a text-to-speech es and more spending. They have an opportunity to help get people back to work and they can start by getting in touch with reality. People are hurting. They are out of work at a level we haven’t seen in generations. Now is the time to put aside big government impulses and think about the people who are out of work. There’s only 11 days left in the session, but Beacon Hill leaders are still more than capable of exponentially compounding our misery,” said Craney. recorded message with instructions for returning the call), but in some cases they might be made by a real person. These con artists might have some of the taxpayer’s information, including their address, the last four digits of their Social Security number or other personal details – making the phone calls seem more legitimate. A common one remains the IRS impersonation scam where a taxpayer receives a telephone call threatening “DIRTY DOZEN” | SEE PAGE 18 July 13, 2012: Rev. Michael Louis, 61, a Boston pastor, and Lissa Alphonse, 39, of Everett, had been abducted, along with an Egyptian guide, as their tour group was traveling on a church trip to Mount Sinai. They were released a few days later. July 17, 1915: An open-air meeting is held in protest of the erection of a plant for the manufacturing of explosives at South Everett. July 18, 1929: A state audit reports that the City of Everett spent city funds on dress suits and shoes for City Councilors to assure that they would be properly dressed for the inauguration of Mayor James Roche. July 19, 1918: Lt. Harold Wasgatt is killed in action leading his company against machine gun fire in France. July 24, 1884: Elm Street horse car route extended to Woodlawn Cemetery. This weekly series in The Everett Advocate is published with permission from a book written by retired Everett City Clerk Michael Matarazzo. Enjoy! Weekly Series brought to you by F.J. 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