Community Log & News Digest
OLYMPIA – Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine recently released this statement regarding the rise in unemployment imposter fraud attempts.
“Since the start of May – and particularly in the past week – the Employment Security Department has seen a significant rise in reports of imposter fraud. This is where bad actors have stolen Washingtonians’ personal information from sources outside of the agency and are using it to apply for unemployment benefits. To be clear – Employment Security has not had a breach of our system and no data has been taken from our agency.
“What we are seeing is that a victims’ personal information has been stolen from some other source, for example in one of the massive external data breaches like the Equifax breach, and is then used by criminals to apply for benefits and attempt to route those payments to their own bank accounts. Many Washingtonians did not know their information had been stolen in the past, and this situation has only illuminated that fact as fraudsters attempt to get unemployment benefits in Washingtonians’ names.
“Our agency has many controls and gates in place to prevent, identify and block fraud, and while we have seen a rise in reports of imposter fraud recently, this is by no means new or unique. States across the country are facing the same situation as criminals take advantage of this crisis and the additional benefits available right now.
“Some additional steps we’re taking as we see this increase in imposter fraud include:
Dramatically increasing the number of agents on the fraud hotline; 100 more of whom just started yesterday.
Hiring more fraud investigators.
Cross matching data with other state agencies and across the country to detect fraud activity.
Working with the U.S. Department of Labor to detect and prevent fraud.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are also holding payments for an additional 1-2 days this week so we can validate claims as authentic. We apologize for the hardship this may cause for valid claimants.
“We are constantly evaluating our processes and systems to ensure we can pay benefits as quickly as possible to those who are qualified while not creating more opportunity for imposter fraud.
“If you believe you are a victim of imposter fraud, please go to esd.wa.gov/fraud and report it immediately using the instructions on that page.
“Additional steps to take and resources to learn more if you believe your identity has been stolen:
Go to the FTC identity theft website, identitytheft.gov. This resource has the most current, detailed step by step process for reporting and protecting people from further victimization.
Request your free credit reports via annualcreditreport.com and review them for other fraudulent activities.
Find additional tips from the Washington State Attorney General at atg.wa.gov/recovering-identity-theft-or-fraud.
“Finally, here are the three most important things for people to know about unemployment imposter fraud:
If someone is a victim of fraud, they will not have to repay the money.
If someone is a victim of fraud and then needs to apply for benefits, they will still be able to do so.
We will only be reaching out to people from the esd.wa.gov domain and only asking people to provide information on our website: esd.wa.gov. We have seen other fraudsters offering to help individuals and businesses by sending them to phony web pages asking for their employees’ information.
“This is such a difficult and unprecedented time, and unfortunately criminals use situations like these to try and gain advantage. While our agency is working around the clock to quickly get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them, we also are maintaining vigilance and taking action to combat fraudulent activities so we may pay out legitimate claims and block those who seek to do harm.”
March 21, 2020—The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return.
This filing and payment relief includes:
- The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.
- This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.
Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. You will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.
Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.
State tax returns
This relief only applies to federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.
Cybersecurity researchers discovered malware earlier this year that was draining people’s Android smartphones and ballooning their data bills by secretly racking up video play requests. The dicovery cast a spotlight on a big and growing problem for the mobile ad industry: sophisticated invalid traffic, or SIVT.
Digital ad fraud costs consumers, advertisers, and publishers billions of dollars per year. One estimate suggests that digital ad fraud will cost advertisers $44 billion globally in 2022, more than double the $19 billion estimated for 2018.
The problem is described more fully in the article linked below.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman is cautioning Washington business owners to be aware of a misleading and potentially fraudulent mailing that purports to be an official bill related to business registration requirements, according to a press release today from Washington Non-profits, a statewide service organization. Nonprofits are targets of this phishing scheme and we caution all nonprofits to be on the look out for this letter.
“We’re working with the Attorney General’s Office – the agency that investigates and prosecutes consumer fraud – to see if further action should be taken to protect businesses in Washington,” said Wyman, whose office includes the Corporations and Charities Division.
A mailing sent recently to an Edmonds business requested $121.86 be sent to an Olympia post office box by July 31. It warned that “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.” However, the mailing does not mention the Office of Secretary of State or include its logo, which can be found on all official correspondence.
Wyman added that any business owner who receives a registration-related bill from an unknown third-party company should contact the Attorney General’s consumer protection division or file an online complaint at atg.wa.gov/fileacomplaint.aspx.
Similar solicitations in the past several years have resulted in an investigation and legal action taken against the senders of the fraudulent letters. Businesses and charities in Washington can always verify their filing status with the Office of Secretary of State by visiting the website, sos.wa.gov/corps. Registration-related questions can be answered at (360) 725-0377 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering business entities and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, as well as documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington.
This article originally appeared in a public post by Jim Ryan on Facebook.
As I was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy's recently, I heard him ask for his senior discount. The girl at the register apologized and charged him less. When I asked the man what the discount was, he told me that seniors over age 55 ...get 10% off everything on the menu, every day. (But you need to ASK for your discount.)
Being of 'that' age myself, I figured I might as well ask for the discount too.
this incident prompted me to do some research, and I came across a list of restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, travel deals and other types of offers giving various discounts with different age requirements. I was actually surprised to see how many there are and howsome of them start at the young age of 50. This list may not only be useful for you, but for your friends and family too.
Dunkin Donuts gives free coffee to people over 55 .
If you're paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for FREE.
Many more follow; YOU MUST ASK for your discount !
SEATTLE -- If a young person knocks on your door and says they're selling magazines for a charity, wait before reaching for your pocketbook. The Washington Attorney General’s Office, which issued a warning about Fresh Start Opportunities in March, says solicitors have returned to Washington state.
Fresh Start Opportunities claims to be a “job business training company” that sends young adults door to door to give them a “fresh start” on life. The organization has ignored repeated inquiries from the Secretary of State’s Office concerning its failure to register as a charity, as well as consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.
“After paying generous amounts for subscriptions, consumers throughout the country never received the magazines and have no idea how their money was spent,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna.
The AGO has received complaints from consumers who paid $50 to $784 for subscriptions. A common theme among the complainants is that they were touched by the solicitors’ stories. They said solicitors claimed to be earning money for college, working toward a better job, receiving points for a free trip, or contributing proceeds to help homeless youth. Consumers paid for subscriptions by check.
The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from consumers nationwide because the company lists a downtown Seattle address on its Web site. But it’s just a mail-forwarding service. A business scans the letters then sends the files by e-mail to the addressee, believed to be located in another state. So no one from Fresh Start Opportunities ever has to step inside to pick up the mail, such as refund requests.
The Web site also lists a toll-free phone number. When called, an automatic message says the number is “temporarily unavailable.”
A 19-year-old man working for Fresh Start Opportunities was arrested last fall in connection with an Edmonds robbery and was a suspect in burglaries in Sammamish and Tumwater.
A state search engine listing registered charities is available at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities.
SEATTLE – A 21-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., man accused of coercing consumers to buy software that actually turned their computers into spamming machines agreed to a settlement that substantially restricts how he markets software in the future, the Washington Attorney General’s Office announced today.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit sued Messenger Solutions, LLC, and owner Ron Cooke, in March. The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, accused Cooke of violating Washington’s Computer Spyware Act and Consumer Protection Act while marketing programs under the names Messenger Blocker, WinAntiVirus Pro 2007, System Doctor and WinAntiSpyware.
Under the settlement filed today, Cooke cannot use Net Send messages or simulated security alerts to market products, transmit software to another person’s computer without a user’s knowledge or make other misrepresentations in the advertising or sale of products.
SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna announced February 14 that Washington will receive nearly $1.7 million as part of a $41 million settlement between 29 states and Caremark Rx, LLC, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits management companies.
At her press conference Thursday morning Governor Christine Gregoire reminded citizens that if they donate to current relief activities in the wake of this week's floods in southwest Washington State, they should donate only to charities they select and not to persons who approach them for donations.
Relief funds have been established at several banks in the state. The Red Cross and other agencies also have means of directing relief donations to the specific task.
The Seattle Press suggests that email solicitations for funds ostensibly for flood relief be ignored in favor of direct donations to one of the bank or Red Cross funds.
Think your "service surcharge" goes to the wait staff? In his weekly Shift Break podcast
, Tom Herriman reports: In fighting a company grab of banquet service charges, Seattle food and beverage servers win new law forcing companies to disclose who gets the money.
Citizens can bring documents for free shredding to locations around Washington during the April 28 "Shredathon" sponsored by businesses and governments. Prevention of identity theft is the goal of the program.
For more information, locations and schedules follow the link below.
WA Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna has provided a set of tips to citizens on how to make effective use of tax preparation services while protecting against identity theft. Additional information is provided on using so-called instant refunds.
Qwest, the large telephone company serving Seattle and many other parts of Washington, has proposed that it be allowed to change (read raise) rates without prior submission to the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission. At first glance this would appear to be an insane idea, but perhaps you are from another planet and think it could be good for consumers.
SEATTLE - Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced a $90 million nationwide settlement with Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. (“Samsung”), resolving allegations that Samsung and others major computer chip manufacturers fixed prices of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM).