WARNING: Huwag paloloko sa mga tax theft

YOU may already be getting your W-2, 1099 and other forms in time for the April 15th tax deadline. Tax season is also the time when many unscrupulous entities will try their best to scare, confuse, and intimidate you, just to steal away your hard earned money. As immigrants, we are usually targets of these criminals, so we need to be empowered as to what to do if this happens to us.
I want to share with you very important information from my interview with “Balitang America” Pinoy Panawagan Legal Counsel Atty. Lou Tancinco on The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast:
Atty. Lou Tancinco said “tax identity theft” happens when someone uses your social security number (SS#) to get your tax refund or to get a job.
How do these thefts do this? Tancinco explained that they send letters, emails, texts, or even social media messages claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and ask for your personal or financial information.
Tancinco said this is FRAUD and should be reported to the IRS.
According to Atty. Lou Tancinco, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also warns immigrants about the increase in aggressive “phone scammers”, who identify themselves as the IRS or the US Treasury, and then threaten you with arrest or deportation.
Tancinco made it clear that even if you may owe taxes, you have to be aware that:
The IRS will never call and demand payment over the phone;
The IRS will never try to threaten or intimidate you or demand payment over the phone;
The IRS will never threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you do not pay to them during that phone call.
If you do not have SS# and only use tax Identification Numbers (TIN), you also have to be careful.
Atty. Lou Tancinco expressed her concern especially about the vulnerability of our seniors who stay home most of the time and receive these calls from phone scammers. Many have already been victimized when these thefts coerce the lolos and lolas to submit payments over the phone using their debit or credit cards after being threatened or arrest and deportation.
Information from the IRS: 
Know the warning signs
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if you are contacted by the IRS or your tax professional/provider about:
• More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
• You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
• IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.
Steps to take if you become a victim
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
• File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
• Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
• Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-766-0008
• Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
• TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
• Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:
• Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided or, if instructed, go to IDVerify.irs.gov.
• Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your e-filed return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions.
• Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not get a resolution, contact 1-800-908-4490 for specialized assistance.

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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