Equine Insurance and Horse Insurance

Archive for January, 2019

Tax Scams: What to Expect in 2019

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

I received this article via email from Scambusters.org. They have very good information each week and you might want to subscribe to their newsletter.

It used to be that this time of year was the season for tax scams — during the run-up to Tax Day itself.

But no longer. Tax scams are a year-round event with crooks, in the main, either posing as the IRS trying to trick you into sending them money or faking a taxpayer’s identity to claim a refund. For example, one of the newest and most widespread tricks, known as the tax transcript scam, involves a fairly convincing phishing attempt that isn’t tied to the filing season.

Victims receive an email pretending to be from “IRS Online” with an attachment labeled “Tax Account Transcript.” Genuine transcripts are summaries of individuals’ tax records and histories. But this attachment carries a dangerous payload — a piece of malware that tries to steal information from your PC. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says not only does the agency not send unsolicited emails like this to the public, it also would never email a sensitive document such as a transcript to anyone. So, if you receive one of these messages, you know what to do: don’t click on the attachment, just delete the email.

Last year, the IRS reported a more than 60% rise in tax email phishing schemes. That doesn’t include the number of impostors — bogus callers — claiming to be with the agency, demanding payment of non-existent tax debts. According to a recent online report from Forbes magazine, tax impostor scams have netted more than $63 million for the crooks during the past five years.

The IRS repeatedly stresses that it never calls people to demand immediate payment. Nor does it threaten to involve law enforcement or arrest you for non-payment or ask you to pay bills via gift cards.

How the IRS Contacts You : “The IRS initiates most contacts with taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service,” the agency explains. “However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as:
* When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
* To secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or
* To tour a business, for example, as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

“Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive a letter or sometimes more than one letter, often called notices, from the IRS in the mail.”

If you do receive a suspicious message purporting to be from the IRS claiming you owe money, don’t get involved in a phone conversation or chain of emails. Instead, call the agency at 1-800-829-1040 to check it out.

Despite the year-round nature of some of these tricks, there’s no doubt that the coming weeks remain the hottest for tax scams, ranging from fraudulent refund claims to shady and fake tax preparers.

The agency’s own list of the most common scams — updated in 2018 — which it calls the “dirty dozen,” names them as: phishing, phone scams, identity theft, return preparer fraud, fake charities, inflated refund claims, excessive claims for business credits, falsely padding deduction on returns, falsifying income to claim credits, frivolous tax arguments, abusive tax shelters and offshore tax avoidance.

Five Key Actions : Note that a number of these actually relate to fraud committed by taxpayers themselves. The rest cover just about every type of scam around today. To protect yourself against these types of crimes, here are 5 key actions you should take.

1. Safeguard your personal information, notably your Social Security number. Ensure you have up to date security software on your PC to avoid data theft,

2. File your tax return as soon as possible. If it’s rejected, it’s possibly because someone already fraudulently claimed your refund. You’ll need to complete an Identity Theft Affidavit to put this right. Download it here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf

3. If you plan to use a tax preparer, seek recommendations from trusted acquaintances. Always check out the preparer’s credentials. Here are 10 tips from the IRS on how to choose: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/ten-tips-for-choosing-a-tax-preparer

4. Don’t be persuaded by individuals or groups claiming that, for some obscure reason, you don’t have to pay tax at all. This is what the IRS refers to as “frivolous tax arguments.” Learn more here: https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/the-truth-about-frivolous-tax-arguments-introduction

5. Don’t be tempted to make untrue statements or claims on your own return. If you do, you potentially risk going to jail.

One final point: If you need to visit the IRS online, go straight to www.irs.gov. Any other address that turns up in a Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search could be a fake, even if it looks like it belongs to the IRS.

Paying taxes is a painful fact of life. Don’t make it hurt even more by falling for a tax scam — remain skeptical and vigilant!

It’s a new year!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

We are two weeks into the new year. Did you make resolutions? Are you keeping them? One resolution that could help you financially is to take a look at your insurance. Have you updated your homeowner’s policy lately? Have you started an equine business such as boarding or lessons? Has your horse increased in value or do you need to think about medical coverage?

Fry’s Equine Insurance is here to help you with your equine insurance.

If you own a horse, we are here to help you look at the options available from mortality (life insurance) to medical (colic, surgeries, accident-sickness-disease coverage). Many horse owners don’t realize they have a liability exposure as well – if your horse hurts someone, you could be named in the claim (even if the horse is boarded somewhere).

If you are a trainer or instructor, we can give you the liability protection you need.

If you own a farm and you are running a boarding operation and/or giving lessons or training, we can help you with the right type of policy. Many homeowners policies don’t cover your barns properly and there may be exclusions if you are running an equine operation. Do you have independents on your property? Are they carrying the proper coverage for you as well?

Give Fry’s Equine Insurance Agency at all 614-875-3711 or 614-875-3755 and we will be happy to listen to you and answer your questions. We aren’t trying to sell you just any policy but rather we are here to help you choose the right policy for you.

Call Spoofing: Why You Should Never Trust Caller ID

Friday, January 4th, 2019

Call Spoofing: Why You Should Never Trust Caller ID **Article courtesy of SpamBusters.org

A new Social Security call spoofing scam provides all the evidence needed for why you should never trust caller ID. Spoofing is a computer tactic used by scammers to trick your caller ID service. Instead of revealing who’s on the line, a spoofed call appears to come from someone else — in fact, whoever the scammer wants it to be.

According to Hiya, a company that specializes in blocking spam phone calls, more than half of all calls received by its customers in the first half of 2018 were spoofed — both on landlines and cell phones.

In the latest incident, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) says crooks are spoofing its main customer service line — 800-772-1213. Mostly, however, that number is used by folks dialing into the SSA, not for outgoing calls from the organization. So if it shows up on your caller ID, there a pretty good chance it’s a fake call.

In this case, as so often, the scammers are after personal information including your Social Security number (SSN), which they can use for identity theft. They may even try threatening to cut off your benefits if you don’t give them the info. But, when you think of it, how could someone cut off your benefit when they supposedly don’t know your SSN? It’s a dead giveaway for a scam. In other cases, they may claim to be offering an increase in benefits in return for your cooperation.

SSA Acting Inspector General Gale Stone says the Administration doesn’t ask for SSNs if it has to phone people for customer service purposes. Nor, of course, do they make threats to withdraw benefit.

If you get one of these calls, the best solution is not to answer it at all. But if you do and the caller asks for your SSN, it’s definitely not the Social Security people — so just hang up.

If you’re worried, you can always call that same number given above and connect to the genuine department to check.

You can also visit www.medicare.gov/fraud to learn more about keeping your number and your card out of the hands of crooks.

Another favorite call spoofing trick that scammers are increasingly using is to mimic local area phone code calls, which they know people are more likely to answer, especially if the number is similar to the victim’s own number.

Jonathan Nelson, director of Reputation Data at Hiya was recently quoted by the Consumer Affairs website as saying: “Scammers are never idle with their tactics and, with the neighbor scam, they are experimenting with all the ways to spoof their number to get consumers to pick up the phone.”

Once again, the best tactic is to ignore calls that come from numbers you don’t recognize. And if you do recognize it but it turns out to be a spoofed call, hang up.

A couple of things you shouldn’t do: Don’t get involved in a conversation if the caller is a real person. Just hang up.

And, if it’s a recorded call (robocall) that invites you to key in a certain number to eliminate future calls, don’t do that either. The scammers just use that as an indicator that you’re really there on the end of the line and that, potentially, you’re gullible.

Unfortunately, there’s no sign of an improvement in the spoofing crime or in the reduction of robocalls.

Another spam-blocking company, First Orion, recently told a government hearing on call spoofing earlier this year: “The fraudsters are very sophisticated, evolving their practices to avoid being labeled or blocked. As a result, we are in an arms race, not a marathon with a finish line, and will be in it until we make it unprofitable.”

And the Washington Post says that half of all complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were about unwanted calls. The FCC estimates Americans received around 2.4 billion unwanted calls every month.

Yes, you can try to limit unwanted calls by signing up for the free Do Not Call registry (1-888-382-1222). But crooks are unlikely to take any notice of this list.

If you’re lucky, your phone service provider also may offer some kind of call filtering service.

Or you can consider using call-blocking services such as those mentioned here (we’re not recommending them as we haven’t tested them).

Remember, the scammers are constantly trying to find ways around call-blocking technology.

Ultimately, your best defense is, first, to be wary and skeptical whenever your phone starts ringing, ignoring or doubting your caller ID.

Second, if you do pick up, refuse absolutely to give confidential information in response to any incoming call. After all, there’s a near 50 percent chance it’s a call spoofing scam.