Published: Tuesday, 21 March 2017 07:49
Written by Martha Trese
COLUMBUS—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warns that more consumers are reporting tax-related scams with about four weeks remaining until the April 18 filing deadline.
In 2017, the Ohio Attorney General's Office has logged more than 150 tax scams thus far in March, compared to 80 in January, and 175 in February.
"As we get further into tax season, we're seeing more of these scams," Attorney General DeWine said. "What we want people to remember is that if callers are threatening you, saying you have to pay immediately, or saying they're going to put you in jail, it's not the IRS."
The most common tax scam reported to the Ohio Attorney General's Office is the "IRS" imposter phone scam. The ploy generally begins with a call claiming the recipient is in trouble with the IRS and must call a certain phone number to avoid arrest or legal action. Eventually, the person is asked to pay to resolve the supposed problem.
Con artists commonly lie to people claiming they owe back taxes, they have unfiled returns, they have an arrest warrant in their name, they're receiving a "final notice" from the IRS, they will be prosecuted for tax fraud, or their assets, wages, or bank account will be frozen if they don't pay.
The scam artists often ask people to pay using iTunes (or other) gift cards, instructing people to read the card numbers over the phone. With this information, con artists can drain the card's funds. Once the money is gone, it is nearly impossible to recover.
To avoid phone scams:
*Don't trust threatening callers. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who threatens to arrest you for not paying taxes, be very skeptical, especially if you never received any written notice.
*Avoid making payments over the phone. Don't trust someone who demands that you pay immediately over the phone using a gift card or prepaid card, or who demands that you send a wire transfer. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists. The real IRS won't demand that you pay using one of these specific methods.
*Don't respond to illegal robocalls. Don't interact with the caller, and don't dial the number left on your phone. Responding to a scam call can result in even more calls.
*Don't rely on caller ID. Scam artists can make it appear that their calls are coming from a local number or from a 202 (Washington D.C.) area code number, even when they are located in another country.
*Check into call-blocking options. Check with your phone carrier and third-party services to determine whether call-blocking services could help you stop unwanted calls.
*During tax season, individuals also should beware of tax-related identity theft, which generally occurs when an imposter files a fraudulent tax return using someone else's Social Security number in order to obtain that person's tax refund. To reduce the risk of tax identity theft, individuals should file their tax returns as soon as possible and make sure they trust their tax preparer.
In addition to tax scams targeting individuals, employers (such as businesses, schools, and nonprofits) should beware of phishing scams aimed at getting their employees' personal information. Con artists may send a spoofed email to an HR or payroll employee, requesting a list of all employees and their W-2 forms. The email may appear to come from the head of organization, when it actually is from a scam artist. Employers should beware of these scams and report any W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS.
Report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioProtects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.
Published: Friday, 17 March 2017 16:25
MOUNT VERNON — Ariel Foundation, a local nonprofit focused on improving the quality of life in Mount Vernon, has gifted the property located at 104 S. Main St. to Mount Vernon Nazarene University. This space will house the university’s Engineering program and a community makerspace, in partnership with Knox Labs. The MVNU Board of Trustees, at its March 17 board meeting, was pleased to accept the gift.
“The presence of MVNU in downtown Mount Vernon is a source of pride for us. We are invested in the greater community and proud to call this city our home. Our Art and Graphic Design Department and School of Nursing and Health Sciences are happy to be part of the downtown community. The decision to move our Engineering program to Main Street is a good moment for the university,” said MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership and support of Ariel Foundation and their investment in MVNU and the generosity of the local community. We look forward to a cooperative effort to create a thriving site for our Engineering program. This move will further enhance this city for decades,” said Spaulding.
104 S. Main St. in 2016 during its last days as an antique store - KP file photo
MVNU’s Engineering program began in the fall of 2014 under dean, Dr. Richard Sutherland, within the School of Natural and Social Sciences. MVNU offers two Bachelor of Science degree programs in electrical and mechanical engineering, respectively. Engineering faculty members include Dr. David Winyard, Associate Professor of Engineering; Dr. David Che, Professor of Engineering; and Dr. Gary Koester, Professor of Engineering.
“MVNU’s Engineering program requires shops and labs for several courses and many student projects. The donation of the downtown space goes a long way toward meeting these requirements. It also opens up possibilities through collaboration with Knox Labs, a makerspace startup that develops working relationships between MVNU Engineering faculty and students and area entrepreneurs, possibly leading to internships and research projects. The partnership will benefit the local community, and MVNU engineers will be prepared to serve wherever their careers may lead them” said Dr. David Winyard, Associate Professor of Engineering.
The 10,824-square foot property located at 104 S. Main St. was most recently home to Farley and Moore Antiques before it closed its doors in late 2016. Before then it was notably home to department store J.C. Penney Co.
For more information on the MVNU Engineering program visit www.gotomvnu.com/engineering.