(WWBT) - The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is alerting the public about a scam involving an attempt to collect money in order to relieve tax debt.
According to the authorities, a resident received a letter claiming to be on the behalf of the Bureau of Tax Enforcement for Hanover County. The letter references the garnishment of wages, bank accounts and property seizures as a method of collection if the debt is not paid.
“It makes me angry that there are people out there intelligent enough to pull this off," said Myrna Dyke, of Chesterfield.
Dyke said she got the same letter earlier this week, except it claimed to be on the behalf of the Bureau of Tax Enforcement for Chesterfield County.
A spokeswoman for Chesterfield County stated no such department exists. The same goes for Hanover County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Dyke’s letter stated she owes more than $21,000 in back taxes.
“That’s a lot of money,” she said. “And for elderly people on social security that’s just awful.”
But at first the Chesterfield homeowner wasn’t sure if it was fake.
"It said it was from Chesterfield County and I thought, well I live here, maybe it's something," Dyke said.
In the end, she knew something was off, especially having just paid her taxes, and decided to investigate the matter.
"I went to the bank first and they looked at it and they pulled up all the checks that I had paid and they said we think it's a scam," Dyke said. “I then called my accountant and he where are you going to send the money to and I said there's no address on here and he said well look closer."
The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said the criminals who, “use this methodology will prey on unsuspecting citizens utilizing official appearing documents to legitimize their scam”.
Some ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim is to:
- Be aware of scams and “phishing” schemes. Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact. The Sheriff’s Office reminds citizens that the IRS will not call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
- Protect your personal data. Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protection. Use strong passwords. Shred all documents that contain personal information.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Monitor your credit report. Federal law requires that each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) provide one free credit report per year to individuals upon request. You may order your free credit report from each of the three bureaus at the Annual Credit Report Website (www.annualcreditreport.com).
"Be careful,” Dyke said. “Don't send money just because somebody is asking for it."
Anyone with information about these letters is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.
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