Affiliate Protection Services
In 2017, the American Health Council continues to expand on our Affiliate Services. Challenged by the growing threats of the Information Age, many healthcare professionals find themselves at the mercy of predatory parties. Utilizing our vast network & resources, we aim to alert our constituency of illegitimate organizations attempting to take advantage of the people our nation relies on most for their health & well-being.
The American Health Council is expanding our Affiliate Services to offer Fraud & Scam Protection. We are currently communicating with our Affiliate base, and the general public, to detect the latest instances of fraud & scams targeting healthcare professionals. Once these illegitimate activities have been identified, we are alerting our Affiliates via our newsletters, social media outlets, networking platform & website, so that they may better protect themselves from such fraudulent activities.
Below, you will find issues currently of concern to healthcare professionals, as well as a form to alert us of any new scams you have encountered.
We thank you for your assistance in protecting Administrators, Educators, Nurses, Physicians, & Researchers from these predatory parties.
The IRS presents the “Dirty Dozen”
Compiled annually by the Internal Revenue Service, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.
Unfortunately, high-earning professionals — such as those in the healthcare industry — are often the target of such scams.
Below, you will find those scams and illegitimate activities listed on the “Dirty Dozen” most likely to affect healthcare professionals, such as doctors.
Tax-related Identity theft – with its related scams to steal personal and financial data from taxpayers or data held by tax professionals – remains a top item on the Dirty Dozen list because it remains an ongoing concern even though progress is being made.
The IRS and its partners remind taxpayers they can do their part to help in this effort. Taxpayers and tax professionals should:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
The Internal Revenue Service has warned taxpayers about groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors.
The IRS offers these basic tips to taxpayers making charitable donations:
- Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities will provide their Employer Identification Numbers (EIN), if requested, which can be used to verify their legitimacy through EO Select Check. It is advisable to double check using a charity’s EIN.
- Don’t give out personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers or passwords, to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal identities and money from victims. Donors often use credit cards to make donations. Be cautious when disclosing credit card numbers. Confirm that those soliciting a donation are calling from a legitimate charity.
- Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
The IRS saw a big spike in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. New and evolving phishing schemes have already been seen this month as scam artists work to confuse taxpayers during filing season. The IRS has already seen email schemes in recent weeks targeting tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools as well as average taxpayers.
In these email schemes, criminals pose as a person or organization the taxpayer trusts or recognizes. They may hack an email account and send mass emails under another person’s name. They may pose as a bank, credit card company, tax software provider or government agency. Criminals go to great lengths to create websites that appear legitimate but contain phony log-in pages. These criminals hope victims will take the bait and provide money, passwords, Social Security numbers and other information that can lead to identity theft.
Scam emails and websites also can infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware without the user knowing it. The malware can give the criminal access to the device, enabling them to access all sensitive files or track keyboard strokes, exposing login information.
During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls that threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise at any time and pick up during tax season.
Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card, like an iTunes card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.