Charles Wilson, LLC | 307 S. Friendswood Dr, Ste B-2 | Friendswood, TX 77546 | 281-993-4530 | charlie@wilsonaccounting.net
       
 

 

Charles S. Wilson, CPA/CFF, CGMA

Charles Wilson, LLC

 

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Avoid Identity Theft + Consumer Alerts on Tax Scams + Employers That Hire Holiday Help



6 Tips to Recognizing Phishing Scams & Avoid Identity Theft
 

Simply ask for it. That's the easiest way for an identity thief to steal your personal information.


Each day, people fall victim to phishing scams through emails, texts or phone calls and mistakenly turn over important data. In turn, cybercriminals try to use that data to file fraudulent tax returns or commit other crimes.

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry - all partners in the fight against identity theft - urge you to learn to recognize and avoid phishing scams.

We need your help in the fight against identity theft. That's why, as part of the Security Summit effort, the IRS launched a public awareness campaign that we call Taxes. Security. Together. They've launched a series of security awareness tips that can help protect you from cybercriminals.

It's called "phishing" because thieves attempt to lure you into the scam mainly through impersonations. The scam may claim to be from a friend, a company with whom you do business, a prize award - anything to get you to open the email or text.

A good general rule: Don't give out personal information based on an unsolicited email request.

Here are 6 basic tips to recognize and avoid a phishing email:

- It contains a link. Scammers often pose as the IRS, financial institutions, credit card companies or even tax companies or software providers. They may claim they need you to update your account or ask you to change a password. The email offers a link to a spoofing site that may look similar to the legitimate official website. Do not click on the link. If in doubt, go directly to the legitimate website and access your account.
 

- It contains an attachment. Another option for scammers is to include an attachment to the email. This attachment may be infected with malware that can download malicious software onto your computer without your knowledge. If it's spyware, it can track your keystrokes to obtain information about your passwords, Social Security number, credit cards or other sensitive data. Do not open attachments from sources unknown to you.
 

- It's from a government agency. Scammers attempt to frighten people into opening email links by posing as government agencies. Thieves often try to imitate the IRS and other government agencies.
 

- It's an "off" email from a friend. Scammers also hack email accounts and try to leverage the stolen email addresses. You may receive an email from a "friend" that just doesn't seem right. It may be missing a subject for the subject line or contain odd requests or language. If it seems off, avoid it and do not click on any links.
 

- It has a lookalike URL. The questionable email may try to trick you with the URL. For example, instead of www.irs.gov, it may be a false lookalike such as www.irs.gov.maliciousname.com. You can place your cursor over the text to view a pop-up of the real URL.
 

- Use security features. Your browser and email provider generally will have anti-spam and phishing features. Make sure you use all of your security software features.

Opening a phishing email and clicking on the link or attachment is one of the most common ways thieves are able not just steal your identity or personal information but also to enter into computer networks and create other mischief.

Learning to recognize and avoid phishing emails - and sharing that knowledge with your family members - is critical to combating identity theft and data loss. Businesses should educate employees about the dangers.
 



   Consumer Alerts on Tax Scams
 

Please note that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Note that the IRS will never:
 

- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
 

- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
 

- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
 

- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Examples of recent scams include:

- Fake IRS tax bills related to the Affordable Care Act. Generally, the scam involves a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. See more.
 

- Telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the "federal student tax." See more.
 

- "Robo-calls" where scammers leave urgent callback requests through the phone telling taxpayers to call back to settle their "tax bill." In the latest trend, IRS impersonators demand payments on iTunes and other gift cards. See more.
 

For more information on tax scams, please see Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts on the IRS website.
 

Don't hesitate to call us if you need help or want to get started on tax planning for the remainder of 2016 or for 2017 already!  If you have comments or questions on the information in these articles, as usual feel free to call our offices.

 


 

Employers That Hire Holiday Help: Understand the Health Care Law's Rules Around Seasonal Workers

As an employer, your size - for purposes of the Affordable Care Act - is determined by the number of your employees. If you hire seasonal or holiday workers, you should know how these employees are counted under the health care law.

Employer benefits, opportunities and requirements are dependent upon your organization's size and the applicable rules. If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, you are an ALE (Applicable Large Employer) for the current calendar year. However, there is an exception for seasonal workers.

If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, your organization is an ALE. Here's the exception: If your workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 during that period were seasonal workers, your organization is not considered an ALE. For this purpose, a seasonal worker is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis.

The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions, but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.

 

     

     

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As always you can call our offices if you have any questions about these or any other accounting, tax, financial planning or Quickbooks related issues, at 281-993-4530. 

 

Regards, Charles S. Wilson, CPA/CFF, CGMA

Certified Public Accountant

 

 

       
   
       
 
       

       

Charles S. Wilson, CPA/CFF, CGMA | Charles Wilson, LLC | 307 S. Friendswood Dr, Ste B-2
Friendswood, TX 77546 | 281-993-4530 (O) | 866-567-3975 (F) | charlie@wilsonaccounting.net