Community Board 7 (CB 7) met inside the hall of St. Luke’s Pastoral Center in Whitestone on Monday, Oct. 16, where they warned locals about tax scams and discussed the possibility of a new police precinct.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board announced upcoming local events — such as the The Pumpkin Patch at Queens Botanical Garden — and invited attendees to register for a webinar about hurricane preparation.
CB 7 Chair Eugene Kelty then opened the floor to Matthew McWhirr, special agent at the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of the Inspector General, to offer advice about fraudulent tax calls and letters and how best to avoid them. The main piece of information that he gave to everyone was that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never email you directly, and if something doesn’t seem right then to not input any personal information.
“If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS do not give any of your information over the phone,” McWhirr said. “If you are ever uncertain about providing your information to someone that seems suspicious to you, do not hesitate to take that extra 10 or 15 minutes to reach out to me and check with me before doing anything. Those precautionary extra few minutes could prevent you from experiencing years of stress and crisis from fraud.”
He then added that writing checks and mailing them to the IRS can come with its own problems and that mailbox theft is a growing issue. He offered the following tips to help prevent mail fraud: always write checks in gel pen; don’t leave any spaces after writing the amount of money; and avoid the mail boxes outside of local post offices.
“Once you write a check, you have no control over how the other person will deposit it, so I would advise being extra cautious,” McWhirr added.
Following this discussion, the board voted to pass the capital and expense budget submissions for fiscal year 2025.
At this time, the board discussed the possibility of adding another police precinct in the area besides the 109th Precinct.
Frank Macchio, chair of the board’s budget committee, assured board members that although the desire to have a new precinct is a high priority for the capital budget plan, all items that were listed are of equal importance.
“We have been wanting a brand new precinct for 20 years and we are all aware that it is an important issue,” he said.
When a community board member asked when it was decided that Willets Point would be the focus area for a possible new precinct, the board answered that the idea transpired a number of years ago because of the high crime rates in the area. This would also allow the 109th Precinct to focus on the issues in Flushing.
Following talk of a new precinct, flooding conditions on 126th Street were also mentioned as an important issue.
The meeting concluded with words from Kissena Park Civic Association President John Kelly, Judge George Grasso — who is running for Queens District Attorney — and a representative from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards’ office.