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(573) 634-2838 - 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, MO 65109 Follow us on:

Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds

Home Attorney Jefferson City Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds
202112.27
0
0

Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds

The world is changing and with it comes more people who pay their bills by scamming others.  Unfortunately, senior adults are some of the most attractive targets for these unscrupulous people.  Afterall, most senior adults have saved money and invested over their lifetimes.  According to the William R. Emmons, an assistant vice president and led economist in the Supervision Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, people 65 years and older have the lowest poverty rate of all age groups. Moreover, the Brookings Institute reports that from 1989 to 2016, the median net worth of families with a head of household age 65 and older increased by 68 percent.

Senior adults also own homes, antiques, valuables and investment properties and are more trusting of strangers than younger generations.  And often, senior adults are less likely to report fraud events.  The pride instilled in our seniors by their hardworking parents who comprised the greatest generation in history, causes them to be reluctant to report such crimes and admit they have been fooled by scammers.

The key to avoiding frauds is being able to identify them. The more you know, the better prepared you will be when they arise. One of the most common frauds perpetrated on senior adults are those that relate to tax or consumer debt topics.  According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, this is one of the top frauds reported annually.  The fraud goes like this…fraudsters pretending to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, state tax agents, creditors, or representatives from debt consolidation services call or email seniors claiming they owe a debt or back taxes and penalties, and unless payment is made immediately, an arrest, foreclosure, or other legal event may occur.  Senior victims are often instructed to immediately pay by wire transfer, credit card, certified check, or even gift card.

But tax agencies such as the IRS provide ample written notice in advance of any enforcement action.  According to the IRS website, the IRS does not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics fraud artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

With regard to consumer debt frauds, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits creditors from communicating with a consumer/debtor without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction.  Additionally, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt as follows:  (1) at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock antemeridian and before 9 o’clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer’s location; or (2) if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer; or (3) at the senior’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the senior’s employer prohibits the senior from receiving such communication.

The FDCPA also prohibits harassment or abuse of senior adults.  More specifically, a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any senior adult in connection with the collection of a debt.  Specific prohibitions include:  (1) the use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person; and (2) the use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader; and (3) the publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of section 1681a(f) or 1681b(3) of the FDCPA; and (4) the advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt; and (5) causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number; and (6) except as provided in section 1692b of the FDCPA, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.

Finally, creditors are prohibited by the FDCPA from making false or misleading representations to senior adults.   Specific prohibitions include:  (1) the false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof; and (2) the false representation of (A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or (B) any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt; and (3) the false representation or implication that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney; and (4) the representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action; and (5) the threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken; and (6) the false representation or implication that a sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the consumer to (A) lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or (B) become subject to any practice prohibited by the FDCPA; and (7) the false representation or implication that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; and (8) communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed; and (9) the use or distribution of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval; and (10) the use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer; and (11) the failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action; and (12) the false representation or implication that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value; and (13) the false representation or implication that documents are legal process; and (14) the use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization; and (15) the false representation or implication that documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer; and (16) the false representation or implication that a debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by section 1681a(f) of the FDCPA.

If you are a senior adult, avoid becoming a victim of fraud by keeping yourself informed about tax and consumer debt frauds, and take steps to safeguard your personal information at all times.  Follow the practical advice outlined herein and let family members and law enforcement know if you have been defrauded, or you were contacted by a potential scammer.  In doing so, you will be better prepared to defend yourself against deceitful scammer practices.

Todd Miller is a monthly contributor and regularly writes and speaks on various legal topics including bankruptcy, estate planning, probate, and elder law.  He formed the Law Office of Todd Miller, LLC, 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, Missouri in 2006.  He has been awarded the Substantial Contributor Attorney Award by the Missouri Bar and ranked as one of the “Top Attorneys in Missouri” by The Legal Network.  Mr. Miller earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1999 and graduated with honors from Lincoln University in 1991.  You may find him at www.toddmillerlaw.com (573) 634-2838 or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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(573) 634-2838 - 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, MO 65109 Follow us on:

Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds

Home Attorney Jefferson City Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds
202112.27
0
0

Avoiding tax and consumer debt frauds

The world is changing and with it comes more people who pay their bills by scamming others.  Unfortunately, senior adults are some of the most attractive targets for these unscrupulous people.  Afterall, most senior adults have saved money and invested over their lifetimes.  According to the William R. Emmons, an assistant vice president and led economist in the Supervision Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, people 65 years and older have the lowest poverty rate of all age groups. Moreover, the Brookings Institute reports that from 1989 to 2016, the median net worth of families with a head of household age 65 and older increased by 68 percent.

Senior adults also own homes, antiques, valuables and investment properties and are more trusting of strangers than younger generations.  And often, senior adults are less likely to report fraud events.  The pride instilled in our seniors by their hardworking parents who comprised the greatest generation in history, causes them to be reluctant to report such crimes and admit they have been fooled by scammers.

The key to avoiding frauds is being able to identify them. The more you know, the better prepared you will be when they arise. One of the most common frauds perpetrated on senior adults are those that relate to tax or consumer debt topics.  According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, this is one of the top frauds reported annually.  The fraud goes like this…fraudsters pretending to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, state tax agents, creditors, or representatives from debt consolidation services call or email seniors claiming they owe a debt or back taxes and penalties, and unless payment is made immediately, an arrest, foreclosure, or other legal event may occur.  Senior victims are often instructed to immediately pay by wire transfer, credit card, certified check, or even gift card.

But tax agencies such as the IRS provide ample written notice in advance of any enforcement action.  According to the IRS website, the IRS does not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics fraud artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

With regard to consumer debt frauds, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits creditors from communicating with a consumer/debtor without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction.  Additionally, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt as follows:  (1) at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock antemeridian and before 9 o’clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer’s location; or (2) if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer; or (3) at the senior’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the senior’s employer prohibits the senior from receiving such communication.

The FDCPA also prohibits harassment or abuse of senior adults.  More specifically, a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any senior adult in connection with the collection of a debt.  Specific prohibitions include:  (1) the use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person; and (2) the use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader; and (3) the publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of section 1681a(f) or 1681b(3) of the FDCPA; and (4) the advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt; and (5) causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number; and (6) except as provided in section 1692b of the FDCPA, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.

Finally, creditors are prohibited by the FDCPA from making false or misleading representations to senior adults.   Specific prohibitions include:  (1) the false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof; and (2) the false representation of (A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or (B) any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt; and (3) the false representation or implication that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney; and (4) the representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action; and (5) the threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken; and (6) the false representation or implication that a sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the consumer to (A) lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or (B) become subject to any practice prohibited by the FDCPA; and (7) the false representation or implication that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; and (8) communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed; and (9) the use or distribution of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval; and (10) the use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer; and (11) the failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action; and (12) the false representation or implication that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value; and (13) the false representation or implication that documents are legal process; and (14) the use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization; and (15) the false representation or implication that documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer; and (16) the false representation or implication that a debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by section 1681a(f) of the FDCPA.

If you are a senior adult, avoid becoming a victim of fraud by keeping yourself informed about tax and consumer debt frauds, and take steps to safeguard your personal information at all times.  Follow the practical advice outlined herein and let family members and law enforcement know if you have been defrauded, or you were contacted by a potential scammer.  In doing so, you will be better prepared to defend yourself against deceitful scammer practices.

Todd Miller is a monthly contributor and regularly writes and speaks on various legal topics including bankruptcy, estate planning, probate, and elder law.  He formed the Law Office of Todd Miller, LLC, 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, Missouri in 2006.  He has been awarded the Substantial Contributor Attorney Award by the Missouri Bar and ranked as one of the “Top Attorneys in Missouri” by The Legal Network.  Mr. Miller earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1999 and graduated with honors from Lincoln University in 1991.  You may find him at www.toddmillerlaw.com (573) 634-2838 or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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