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Pleasanton police warn of ongoing tax-related scams

Other police news: $15,000 home break-in, Legos stolen from after-school program

Pleasanton police are urging residents to be aware of ongoing scams and to take specific precautions when filing their tax returns this year.

Police have been responding to a slew of reports of a stranger calling local residents, claiming to be the IRS, according to Shannon Revel-Whitaker, a Pleasanton community service officer.

The scammer typically claims the resident hasn't filed their tax return, then verifies the resident's address and asks for more sensitive information, such as a Social Security number. The caller usually threatens to have police come to the resident's home and arrest them for tax evasion or other crimes.

Revel-Whitaker said local police would not arrest someone for not filing a tax return, and the IRS will never contact people over the phone. IRS officials opt for postal delivery for important documents or correspondence.

Residents should refuse to divulge important personal information and report such calls to authorities, according to Revel-Whitaker, who said there are other steps residents can take to stay safe this tax season.

When filing a report by mail, don't put it in your mailbox, she said. Instead, take it to the post office yourself. That will reduce the chance someone can take your mail and use your Social Security number against you.

By doing regular credit-score checks, residents can make sure nothing nefarious is happening via their Social Security numbers. Revel-Whitaker also recommends running a credit check on your children's Social Security numbers, which are often unused and are targeted by fraudsters.

"A lot of people think juveniles are exempt from tax fraud, and that's not true," she said.

To find out if you are the victim of tax-related identity theft -- such as if someone else files a return with your information -- pay attention to any notices the IRS mails that state you've filed more than one tax return, according to the IRS.

Other warning signs include notices that you owe tax or are due a refund on years you did not file a tax return, as well as IRS records that you received wages from a company you never worked for.

If you are the victim of identity theft, the IRS recommends filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov/ Then, contact major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your accounts. Contact your banks and other financial institutions, and close any accounts or cards opened without your permission.

For more information on preventing and responding to tax fraud, visit IRS.gov, www.ftb.ca.gov and www.consumer.ftc.gov/

The deadline to file 2015 tax returns is April 18, three days beyond the traditional cut-off because Emancipation Day -- a Washington, D.C., holiday on April 16 -- is being recognized on Friday, April 15 this year.

In other police news:

* A resident moving out of a Pleasanton apartment discovered about $15,000 of his property was stolen while he was away.

The resident said the items could have been taken between 11 p.m. March 31 and 5:30 p.m. April 1 from his apartment in the 5600 block of Owens Drive, according to Pleasanton police.

Persian rugs worth $10,000, a $2,500 handgun replica, a $1,200 50-inch flat screen TV and a $1,000 40-inch flat screen TV were among the items reported as stolen, police stated.

As of Monday, no arrests had been made in the case. A fingerprint was collected from the back sliding window, police stated.

* An unknown individual broke into a Pleasanton after-school program and stole Legos used to teach kids engineering and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fundamentals.

The culprit broke into Play-Well Teknologies on Valley Avenue by smashing the front glass door with a rock sometime between 7 p.m. March 29 and 5:46 a.m. March 30, police stated.

Twelve sets of Legos were stolen, including three sets of Lego Mindstorms valued at $1,050. Sets of Lego versions of Star Wars Resistance troop transporters, First Order troop transporters and the command shuttle of Kylo Ren -- the antagonist of the latest "Star Wars" installments -- were reported stolen.

All told, $1,860 in Legos were reported stolen. No arrests had been made in the case as of Monday.

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