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Avoid Getting Scammed This Tax Season

Tax season is once again in full swing. While many concerned taxpayers file tax returns to meet the required deadline, criminals work harder to cash in and take advantage of the hectic tax season. Tax fraud remains a growing concern nationally and counterfeit scams cost millions of dollars. Individuals who take a proactive approach can deter fraud and protect their identity, information and their finances. Here are a few recent scams catching the watchful eye of the IRS. TAX PREPARATION SCAMS The IRS just released notice IR-2019-09 to alert taxpayers of unscrupulous tax preparers. Deceitful tax preparers file erroneous tax returns for many unknown taxpayers. The law requires all preparers who receive payment for preparation of federal tax returns to have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The tax preparer must include their PTIN and sign the return. For e-filed tax returns, a dishonest preparer will omit his electronic signature. Additionally, they may falsify tax information to increase the refund while directing the refund into their bank account. Taxpayers must review their tax returns for accuracy of income and deductions. Ensure the tax preparer signs the return and includes their PTIN. Make sure the bank account and routing numbers are correct. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications provides an excellent resource to locate established tax preparers with the IRS. CHARITABLE GIVING SCAMS Counterfeit websites disguise themselves as other well-known established charities to deceive generous individuals to donate money to a dire cause. Additionally, some individuals receive solicitations from fraudulent charities promising a nice tax deduction in return for your donation. Don’t fall victim to their schemes. Donors can prevent thousands of dollars from falling into the wrong hands. The IRS provides a tool to help prevent against charitable giving scams. Donors can verify if a charity is legitimate by utilizing the IRS search tool Tax Exempt Organization Search. Never give to a charity who solicits a donation without first verifying the authenticity of their organization. EMAIL PHISHING SCAMS In IRS notice IR-2018-226, the IRS alerts taxpayers to a recent spike in email phishing scams. While fraudulent emails and phishing scams have been around a while, data thieves continue working diligently to improve new tactics to steal valuable information. Emotet is the infected malware of choice in many email scams and Emotet remains well-known as the most damaging and expensive to fix. Many of these scam emails display tax account transcripts in the subject line of the email and include infected attachments with similar wording. These emails appear legitimate. They often disguise themselves as representatives with banks, financial institutions and the IRS. The IRS logo and other well-known bank logos appear real and many unsuspecting individuals open the infected email attachment. The IRS does not contact individuals through email. The IRS warns individuals to not open suspecting emails. The IRS remains diligent to combat fraud. If you suspect a suspicious email, you can also forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

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KEYSTONE FINANCIAL PLANNING

2405 Anderson Highway, Suite A | Powhatan, VA 23139

julie.manning@keystoneplanner.com            (804-376-7544

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Financial Planning and Advisory Services are offered through Prosperity Capital Advisors ("PCA") an SEC registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the State of Ohio. PCA and its representatives are in compliance with the current registration requirements imposed upon registered investment advisers by those states in which PCA maintains clients. PCA may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. This brochure is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory/management services. Any subsequent, direct communication by PCA with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. Keystone Financial Planning and PCA are separate, non-affiliated entities. PCA does not provide tax or legal advice. Insurance and Tax Services offered through Keystone Financial Planning are not affiliated with PCA.  For information pertaining to the registration status of PCA, please contact the firm or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. For additional information about PCA, including fees and services, send for our disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV from PCA using the contact information herein. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money. The Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) certification is a professional designation provided by The American College of Financial Services, Bryn Mawr, PA.  To receive the designation, the individual must complete a minimum of three college-level courses which cover information such as retirement income planning, retirement portfolio management techniques and mitigation of plan risks to the proper uses of annuities, employer sponsored benefits, and determining the best Social Security claiming age.  In addition, the individual must pass an examination, have three years of financial services experience and adhere to the American College’s Code of Ethics. The American College can disallow use of the RICP® if advisors do not adhere to the program’s ethical standards, continuing education, and other requirements.