Some common scams to avoid during tax season

By KATIE MIKTUK

kmiktuk@timesobserver.com

The Department of Revenue has issued a reminder to taxpayers to pay caution to scams and “phishing” schemes being used to steal money and personal financial information this tax season.

Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said “these scams are especially common at this time of year,” continuing on to say that “criminals use high-pressure tactics and threats to pressure (people) into providing money or sensitive information.”

One common scam found this tax season is the “Final Demand For Payment” notice being mailed from the “Tax Processing Center.” This notice threatens seizure of the taxpayer’s property if the recipient fails to make immediate payment to the “State of Pennsylvania.” An 800-number may be provided as well.

Another scam making its way around is a “phishing” scam. This scam involves the use of fraudulent email messages. These messages include deceptive software or files that are designed to steal information such as passwords, usernames, or personal financial information from the recipient. The criminal may pose as a person or organization that the taxpayer trusts or recognizes such as a bank, credit card company, or tax software provider.

The Department of Revenue has also issued a list of tips to avoid the ongoing scams.

Always look for imposters. Be wary of criminals posing as a government entity or official business. Do not provide any information until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.

Make sure to examine notifications and electronic messages. Look for blatant factual errors and other inconsistencies such as fake return addresses. If you receive a notice that is unexpected and says “Final Notice,” verify the legitimacy of this notice. The Department of Revenue will always send multiple letters for liabilities owed before sending a final notice.

Always approach unusual attachments and links with caution. Scammers “phishing” may include a link or attachment to an email that is infected with spyware. This spyware can track the recipient’s keystrokes to obtain personal information used to steal money or identities.

Take caution to unusual payment methods. Make sure to avoid scenarios where you are asked to pay debt with reloadable credit cards, gift cards, or money wiring services. Legitimate agencies will never ask you to pay with such payment methods.

Finally, conduct online research. Using information that may be included in fraudulent notices such as company name, address, or telephone number, do an online search to see if a scam has been reported on this information.

If you happen to find yourself victim to a scam, contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit at (717) 772-9297 or RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.

For more information for ways to protect yourself this tax season, visit Revenue’s Identity Theft Victim Assistance webpage, https://www.revenue.pa.gov/GetAssistance or online at PA.gov/Cybersecurity.

COMMENTS