Crooks will be after your tax rebate

  • By Linda Bryant Smith Herald Columnist
  • Monday, February 4, 2008 5:04pm
  • Life

Stop talking and show us the money.

For the past couple of weeks we’ve read and heard the political rhetoric. Today the debate in the Senate resumed with benefits for the low-income elderly and disabled veterans among the items in question.

The original “tax rebate” plan considered in the House of Representatives did not take into account the 20 million seniors on Social Security who don’t earn enough income to pay taxes. So the add-ons began.

In the Senate last week the price tag jumped by several billion and included both low-income seniors, disabled veterans, subsidies for low-income families struggling with home heating bills and other heating costs, extended unemployment benefits, increased food stamps, tax credits for alternative energy sources and tax incentives for businesses.

Thursday, Senate Republicans said they’d block the $157 billion package unless it was streamlined significantly.

Then the whole bunch took the weekend off.

Three senators, of course, are busy campaigning for president. Even they were expected to be back to vote Wednesday.

So while negotiations on the finite details are under way, Internet scoundrels are also at work on devious plans to scam unsuspecting folks out of whatever rebate they might get and all their savings as well.

One thing that has been consistent in planning this stimulus package is that the checks will be issued through the IRS in June perhaps even earlier.

And it is those words “IRS” and “checks” that the scam artists will try to capitalize on, so be alert.

Already back on the Internet after first its first appearance in 2005, is a clever ploy that goes like this: You’ll receive an e-mail purported to be from the Internal Revenue Service promising to expedite your “rebate” or “stimulus package refund” if you will just fill out the refund request form.

This so-called official request will ask for such personal information as your Social Security number and credit card information or bank account numbers.

It may say something like, “After the last calculations of your fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to receive a refund of $300. Please fill out the refund request fund and allow us six to nine days to process it.”

Then it will ask you to “click here” for the form.

The information you provide will be used to steal your identity and financial assets.

Neither your bank nor the IRS will ask you for that kind of personal identification or financial information in an unsolicited e-mail.

If you receive one of these scam e-mails, do not open any attachments because they may contain a malicious code that could infect your computer.

If you can, identify the e-mail as “scam” to your Internet provider. Delete it immediately.

Then, like the rest of us, be patient while the powers that be figure out who’s going to get what and how much.

Remember, this is a government that is better at taking than giving back. We know this because the cost of living increase for Social Security this year was 2.3 percent even as we watched the cost of our food and beverages go up 4.8 percent, according to the consumer price index.

That may be why low-income seniors were initially left out of the rebate scenario: Not enough buying power to make a difference.

Folks trying to get by on Social Security are more inclined to spend their refund at the grocery store or to pay high heating bills instead of waltzing into the nearest retailer to use an already overextended credit card to buy a 47-inch state-of-the-art TV set with the IRS-issued check as a down payment.

One of the hotly debated points right now is whether seniors who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes should actually get a few bucks out of the billions in this “economic stimulus” plan.

Sure hope they remember that even the poorest senior still knows how to vote … and rarely forgets being scammed.

Linda Bryant Smith writes about life as a senior citizen and the issues that concern, annoy and often irritate the heck out of her now that she lives in a world where nothing is ever truly fixed but her income. You can e-mail her at

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