With the tax filing season underway, the Department of Revenue is urging Pennsylvania residents to be on the lookout for scams that are designed to trick people into turning over sensitive data and personal information.
One recurring scam that has been reported to authorities involves phony letters that are sent to taxpayers through the mail, the department said.
The “Final Demand for Payment” letters threaten wage garnishment and the seizure of property or assets unless the recipient calls a phone number to satisfy a lien.
“We want Pennsylvanians to remember four simple words — don’t take the bait,” said Acting Revenue Secretary Pat Browne in a press release. “Take a moment to think over the situation and make sure that you’re taking the proper steps to ensure that any notice you receive in the mail is legitimate.
“We have received many reports on this scam that involves fraudulent notices. This is a common time of the year for scam artists to impersonate a government agency to victimize hard-working Pennsylvanians.”
The scam notices are sent through the mail from phony entities that closely resemble the name of a collection agency or a state taxing agency, the department said.
Keep an eye out for dubious claims or suspicious details, such as:
- The phony letters come from “Tax Assessment Procedures Domestic Judgment Registry.” No such entity exists.
- The letters do not include a return address. A notice from the Department of Revenue will always include an official Department of Revenue address as the return address.
- The recipient owes the “State of Pennsylvania” unpaid taxes, rather than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or Department of Revenue.
- The phony letters are very generic and do not include any specific information about the taxpayer’s account. Legitimate letters from the Department of Revenue will include specifics, such as an account number and any liability owed, to give the taxpayer as much information as possible. Letters from the Department of Revenue also include more detailed contact information and multiple options to make contact with the department.
- The phony letters focus on public records, such as tax liens, that anyone can access. Enforcement letters from the Department of Revenue include more detailed information about the taxpayer’s account and any liabilities that are owed.