Page 18 THE EVERETT ADVOCATE – FRiDAy, July 24, 2020 “DIRTY DOZEN” | FROM PAGE 15 jail time, deportation or revocation of a driver’s license from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Taxpayers who are recent immigrants often are the most vulnerable and should ignore these threats and not engage the scammers. Unscrupulous return preparers: Selecting the right return preparer is important. The preparer is entrusted with a taxpayer’s sensitive personal data. Most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but dishonest preparers pop up every filing season – committing fraud, harming innocent taxpayers or talking taxpayers into doing illegal things they regret later. Taxpayers should avoid so-called “ghost” preparers who expose their clients to potentially serious filing mistakes as well as possible tax fraud and risk of losing their refunds. With many tax professionals impacted by COVID-19 and their offices potentially closed, taxpayers should take particular care in selecting a credible tax preparer. Ghost preparers don’t sign the tax returns they prepare. They might print the tax return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the ghost preparer will prepare but not digitally sign as the paid preparer. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on returns. Unscrupulous preparers might also target those without a filing requirement and might or might not be due a refund. They promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits, including education credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Taxpayers should avoid preparers who ask them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at the taxpayer’s records or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of their tax return, regardless of who prepares it. Taxpayers can go to a special page on IRS.gov for tips on choosing a preparer. Offer in Compromise (OIC) Mills: Taxpayers need to be wary of tax debt resolution companies that are misleading and exaggerate chances to settle tax debts for “pennies on the dollar” through an OIC. These offers are available for taxpayers who meet very specific criteria under law to qualify for reducing their tax bill. But unscrupulous companies oversell the program to unqualified candidates so they can collect a hefty fee from taxpayers already struggling with debt. These scams are commonly called OIC “mills,” which cast a wide net for taxpayers, charge them pricey fees and churn out applications for a program they’re unlikely to qualify for. Although the OIC program helps thousands of taxpayers each year reduce their tax debt, not everyone qualifies for an OIC. In Fiscal Year 2019, there were 54,000 OICs submitted to the IRS. The agency accepted 18,000 of them. Individual taxpayers can use the free online Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool to see if they qualify. The simple tool allows taxpayers to confirm eligibility and provides an estimated offer amount. Taxpayers can apply for an OIC without third-party representation, but the IRS reminds taxpayers that if they need help, they should be cautious about whom they hire. Fake payments with repayment demands: Criminals are always finding new ways to trick taxpayers into believing their scam, including putting a bogus refund into the taxpayer’s actual bank account. Here’s how the scam works: A con artist steals or obtains a taxpayer’s personal data, including Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and bank account information. The scammer files a bogus tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer’s checkOBITUARIES Arthur R. Rivers A longtime resident of Malden passed away on Sunday, July 19, with his loving family by his side. Arthur was born in Everett in 1930. Like many of his day, he left school early to begin working and help support the family. In I952 he joined the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War. After his honorable discharge he returned to Everett. He married his sweetheart in 1963, and the two settled down in Malden to raise their family. Arthur worked as a welder, first at Ideal Can Co. and then at Asia America. He worked as a welder until his retirement in 1995. In years past, Arthur enjoyed playing golf, especially with his father inlaw. Arthur also enjoyed taking cruises around the world with his wife, and he enjoyed settling down and watching Turner Classic Movies Channel. He is survived by his children, Linda Rivers of Malden, Edward Hodgin of Malden, David Hodgin of TX, William Hodgin of Beverly, Stephen Hodgin of VT, Walter Hodgin of Billerica, and Ethel Murphy of NY, his nieces, Kelly Orne of North Reading and Patrice Orne of Malden, whom he helped raise, as well as 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Arthur was preceded in death by his siblings, Donald, Wallace, Charles, Robert, Kenneth, Dorothy, Marilyn, and Peter. Barbara E. McKinlay O f Wellesley, formerly of Melrose, died Sunday, July 19, 2020 at Waterstone at Wellesley. She was 99 years old and a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Born in Everett on May 31, 1921 to Thomas and Ida Flaherty and sister to Chester Flaherty, Marie Jackson and Paul Flaherty, who all predeceased her. She was a 1939 graduate of Everett High School and a 1943 graduate of Salem State in Elementary Education. She also received a Master’s in education. She was a resident of Melrose from 1952 to 2008 and lived the last twelve years in Wellesley. She was an elementary school teacher in Everett, Wakefield and Melrose, and loved her kindergartners at Roosevelt Elementary School. She enjoyed reading and playing bridge, but most of all, she loved spending time with her family and friends. She was the devoted wife of James T. McKinlay, Jr., who died in 2010. They shared 65 years of marriage. She was the loving mother of Jim McKinlay of Revere, Tom McKinlay of Plymouth, John McKinlay and his wife Jane of Lynn, ing or savings account. Once the direct deposit hits the taxpayer’s bank account, the fraudster, posing as an IRS employee, places a call to the taxpayer. The taxpayer is told that there’s been an error and that the IRS needs the money returned immediately or penalties and interest will result. The taxpayer is told to buy specific gift cards for the amount of the refund. The IRS will never demand payment by a specific method. There are many payment options available to taxpayers, and there’s also a process through which taxpayers have the right to question the amount of tax the IRS says they owe. Anytime a taxpayer receives an unexpected refund and a call from the IRS out of the blue demanding a refund repayment, the taxpayer should reach out to his or her banking institution and the IRS. Payroll and HR scams: Tax professionals, employers and taxpayers need to be on guard against phishing designed to steal Form W-2s and other tax information. These scams are called Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) or Business E-mail Spoofing (BES). This is particularly true with many businesses closed and their employees working from home due to COVID-19. Currently, two of the most common types of these scams are the gift card scam and the direct deposit scam. In the gift card scam, a compromised e-mail account is often used to send a request to purchase gift cards in various denominations. In the direct deposit scheme, the fraudster might have access to the victim’s e-mail account (also known as an E-mail Account Compromise [EAC]). The fraudster might also impersonate the potential victim to have the organization change the employee’s direct deposit information to reroute their deposit to an account the fraudster controls. BEC/BES scams have used a variety of ploys to include requests for wire transfers, payment of fake invoices as well as others. In recent years, the IRS has observed variations of these scams where fake IRS documents are used in to lend legitimacy to the bogus request. For example, a fraudster might attempt a fake invoice scheme and use what appears to be a legitimate IRS document to help convince the victim. The Direct Deposit and other BEC/BES variations should be forwarded to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), where a complaint can be filed. The IRS requests that Form W-2 scams be reported to phishing@irs.gov (Subject: W-2 Scam). Ransomware: This is a growing cybercrime. Ransomware is malware targeting human “DIRTY DOZEN” | SEE PAGE 21 Rosemary Bell and her husband Stephen of Wayland, and Barbara Connolly and her husband Bill of Wellesley. Cherished grandmother to Katie McKinlay, Chris McKinlay, Steve Bell and his wife Maria, Mike Bell, Steph Meehan and her husband Michael, Mic Bell, Will, Jack, Molly and Mikey Connolly. Cherished great grandmother to Ashlynn, Sami, Joe, Riley, Kayleigh, Jack and Declan. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in her memory may be made to the Roosevelt Elementary School PTO, 253 Vinton St., Melrose, MA 02176.

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