State tax officials caution taxpayers to be on the lookout for tax-related scams, which tend to increase around filing deadlines. Caution is especially important because taxpayers may be surprised by scammers’ newest trick: fraudulent mailings.
“Scam season is now year-round, but Oregonians need to be extra cautious around tax-filing deadlines, when scammers’ claims might sound more plausible,” said Ken Ross, who manages the Department of Revenue’s anti-fraud efforts. Monday was the deadline for extension-filed income-tax returns. “When your taxes are in the back of your mind, an urgent call demanding payment might seem more legitimate than it is.”
Traditional mail isn’t used frequently by scam artists, but it’s always possible.
“Scammers are always in motion, trying to make their efforts inconspicuous and compelling,” Ross said. “If they see fake IRS letters regarding the Affordable Care Act working, they’ll move farther in that direction.”
Despite the new tactic, Ross says taxpayers should maintain healthy skepticism and follow the same tips Revenue has always given:
Slow down. Scammers don’t want to wait, so they’ll always try to get a taxpayer to send money immediately–often via wire transfer or by making a payment to a prepaid debit or gift card. Revenue staff will never require you to use one specific method of payment.
Verify the letter. Revenue staff can always validate a letter you’ve been sent, just call the published phone number.
Don’t talk to callers that are badgering or threatening. If you don’t trust the person on the other end, hang up. You can always call the agency to which you owe taxes or other debt at their published phone number to talk about the situation.
Manage any debt by calling Revenue first. Setting up a payment agreement for any tax or other debt that you owe means you won’t get letters or calls unless you break the agreement.
Be aware. Check consumer protection resources, like the Department of Justice’s webpage at www.doj.state.or.us/consumer and the IRS’ scam tracker at www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts, so you’re less likely to be surprised and can better detect a scam if you’re targeted.
You can also review your state tax account through Revenue Online at www.oregon.gov/dor. Using Revenue Online, you can see how much you owe and view copies of letters Revenue has sent to you.
Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax information, check the status of your refund, or make payments. You can also email [email protected] or call (503) 378-4988 or (800) 356-4222 (toll-free) with your questions.