Briefly Noted: IRS warns of COVID-19 scams; Prairie Village’s diversity task force becomes permanent

The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division recently issued an alert about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers a second round of Economic Impact Payments. Photo courtesy Flickr.

IRS warns of COVID-19 scams in next round of relief payments

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division recently issued an alert about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers a second round of Economic Impact Payments.

The IRS has reported scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What to look for in a scam:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with keywords such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

The IRS reported that it does not do any of the following to communicate with taxpayers:

  • IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails.
  • IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits.
  • IRS does not demand tax payments on gift cards.

Here’s how to report a scam:

  • COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through an online complaint form.
  • Report fraud or theft of Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online at tips.tigta.gov.
  • Forward to phishing@irs.gov any unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information from the IRS or a related organization

Prairie Village establishes diversity task force as permanent committee

The city of Prairie Village now has a city committee designated entirely to focus on diversity.

Last month’s decision to establish a permanent diversity committee saw a 9 to 3 vote, with councilmembers Sheila Myers, Daniel Runion and Courtney McFadden voting in opposition. The diversity committee will continue the work of the former diversity task force, which was charged with developing ways in which the city could attract and retain more residents of color.

Shawnee Mission Park’s dog off-leash area temporarily closing

The dog off-leash area in Shawnee Mission Park and its parking lot will be closed from Tuesday, Feb. 2, through Thursday Feb. 4. The Johnson County Park and Recreation District is closing the area this week to build a new restroom at the off-leash area and relocate the in-ground dog waste bag receptacle tank.

Work on the restroom project began in early October, and is expected to be finished and landscaped by April 15, according to a press release. Other off-leash areas in the district include:

  • Heritage Park, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe
  • Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park, 12500 W. 119th St., Overland Park
  • Kill Creek Streamway Park access point, 33460 W. 95th St. De Soto