Beware of Stimulus Check Scam

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
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NORTH ADAMS — As the first round of the economic stimulus checks start flooding into mailboxes and bank accounts across the country, local agencies — and the Internal Revenue Service — are warning consumers about online scams that ask for personal information to ensure the safe receipt of the money.

E-mails coming from senders who claim to be the IRS request that those wishing to receive their economic stimulus refund fill out a form so the check can be deposited.

"The scam is trying to get personal and/or financial institution account information for identity theft purposes. The IRS and financial institutions will never call or e-mail an individual for personal or financial account information," said Gwen Boillat, the assistant vice president and security officer at Greylock Federal Credit Union.

Many of the e-mails look authentic and even have an IRS banner and copyright information on them.

"Many of these scams involve official-looking e-mails that try to lure recipients into providing data at fake 'IRS' Web sites to get a rebate," said Boillat. "People also are receiving phone calls telling them that they can receive a tax rebate only if they provide bank account information for a direct deposit."

The IRS and Greylock have put scam warnings on their sites and a stimulus payment schedule has been posted.

"Taxpayers do not have to fill out a separate form to get a stimulus payment or have it directly deposited; all they had to do was file a tax return and provide direct deposit information on the return," the IRS site states.

The IRS recommends typing in into your browser rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment to avoid being rerouted to a bogus site.

Boillat said taxpayers who filed by April 15 through direct deposit will receive their checks the same way and the deposit to the account can be identified as "Tax Refund" issued from Treasury 220. Paper checks will have "2008 Economic Stimulus Payment" written on them.

Anyone who has received a questionable e-mail can forward it to a mailbox the IRS has established to investigate suspicious e-mails:

According to Boillat, individuals with at least $3,000 in qualifying income may qualify for an economic stimulus payment of $300 ($600 for married couples) plus the $300 per qualifying child payment. However, they must file a 2007 income tax return by Oct. 15, 2008, to receive a stimulus payment.

The tax rebates are a result of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 that was passed by Congress in February in an effort to boost the struggling economy and avoid a recession through the encouragement of consumer spending.

To find out when your rebate should arrive, click here.
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DA Clears Trooper in Fatal Hancock Shooting

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says the results of an autopsy by the medical examiner will not change his findings, which are based on the video and witnesses. With him are State Police Lts. Chris Bruno and Ryan Dickinson and First Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney Timothy Shugrue has determined that State Police Trooper William Munch acted in compliance during what is being described as a "suicide by cop" earlier this month.
On Sept. 9, 64-year-old Phillip Henault reportedly placed a fictitious 911 call about an ongoing violent assault. Body-camera footage from the trooper shows the man advancing on him with two knives before being shot twice and collapsing in the street in front of his Richmond Road residence.
"Mr. Henault was actively using deadly force against law enforcement. There were no other objectively reasonable means that the trooper could have employed at the time in order to effectively protect himself and anyone that was in the home or the public. By virtue of his duties as a police officer, the trooper did not have the obligation to run away from Mr. Henault," Shugrue said during a press conference on Friday.
"Mr. Henault posed an active threat to the trooper and to the public. The trooper had a duty to arrest Mr. Henault who was engaged in various felonies. His arm was an active threat."
The DA determined that Munch's decision to fire his weapon at Henault under the circumstances was a "lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others" compliance with the policies of the State Police and commonwealth law, clearing the trooper of criminal charges and closing the investigation.
The lethal force was labeled as an "unavoidable last resort."
A preliminary autopsy determined the unofficial cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the torso with contributing factors of wounds to the wrists that were inflicted by Heneault. The final report from the medical examiner has not been issued.
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