VOL. 115 | NO. 132 | Thursday, July 12, 2001
By JENNIFER MURLEY
Companies prey on rebate check promises
By JENNIFER MURLEY
The Daily News
Just in time for the upcoming mailing of federal tax rebate checks scheduled to begin July 23, the IRS has received reports of opportunistic companies soliciting unnecessary delivery and calculation services of taxpayer rebates.
IRS officials said a company operating under the name of "Revenue Resource Center," based in Boca Raton, Fla., has mailed official-looking postcards to people in seven states Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas stating that for $12.95 they will calculate and ensure delivery of personal rebate checks. So far, no incidents have been officially reported in Tennessee.
IRS spokesperson Dan Boone said the company is just one of several taking advantage of the mass mailing of rebate checks, which will be as much as $300 for single taxpayers, $500 for heads of households and $600 for married couples.
The checks will be mailed at a rate of about 11 million a week through the end of September based on the last two digits of an individuals Social Security Number.
While Boone said the services of these companies are certainly unnecessary due to the wealth of free information provided by the IRS either on its Web site, www.irs.gov, or through the introductory letter being mailed to each recipient prior to the checks, so far, theyre not doing anything illegal.
"We havent talked to anyone who has responded to this so we dont know what youll get in the mail for your money," he said. "If you pay your money to this organization and dont get anything or dont get good information, then at that point it could be considered a scam."
However, John Myers, Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South president, said even if the situation does evolve into fraud, consumers may have no recourse.
"If they took the money and didnt perform any service at all, then yes, it would be (fraud)," he said. "But, heres the thing, how are you going to prove that because youre going to get your check regardless of what they do or dont do? Its not going to change regardless of what they do or dont do."
Myers said companies such as Revenue Resource Center frequently prey on people who are either too lazy or uninformed to handle personal matters on their own. Among other examples of opportunistic business practices, he listed companies that offer "credit repair" services and charge consumers for common-sense advice such as paying bills on time.
"They capitalize on the event, whatever it is. This is a big event in terms of a lot of people are going to get checks.
"Unfortunately, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public," Myers said.