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Idaho officials warn over tax scam

| January 23, 2022 1:00 AM

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and the Idaho State Tax Commission are warning Idahoans about a scam targeting taxpayers.

Individuals have reported receiving threatening letters from the so-called “Tax Processing Center” or “Tax Processing Unit,” claiming the state of Idaho will seize individuals’ property and garnish their wages for unpaid taxes. The letters are the latest iteration of a recurring scam meant to intimidate and steal money from unsuspecting victims, state officials said.

The letters are designed to resemble official government notices and reference the “Public Judgment Records” of the county where the taxpayer lives. The letters include a fake “Filing No.” and may misspell the taxpayer’s name.

“The Tax Commission appreciates the public informing us about potential tax-related scams,” Chairman Jeff McCray said. “Individuals who have questions about their Idaho return or a potential state tax liability should contact the Tax Commission directly. Don’t use the phone number from a suspicious letter.”

In a call to the “Tax Processing Center,” a representative of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division spoke to a man who said he was with “lien recovery” and that a lien had been filed for unpaid taxes. The man asked if the letter was sent to a person or a business and whether it was “state or federal.” The Attorney General’s representative told the man the letter came to her personally in Idaho. When asked for his company’s name, the man hung up.

“Actual government agencies don’t hide who they are or hang up on you when questioned,” Wasden said. “If you're not sure whether a government notice you received is legitimate, don't hesitate to contact my Consumer Protection Division for assistance.”

To avoid scams like this, Idahoans should follow these tips:

• Look out for imposters. Scammers like to pose as government agencies. Examine notices for factual errors, misspellings, and incorrect information—all signs of a scam.

• Research notices online. The same scams are perpetrated throughout the United States, so it’s a good bet that someone already has identified this scam and posted information online. Other states or media outlets also may have published alerts to inform the public. Search online any identified contact information like phone numbers, addresses, and names.

• Contact the government agency directly. Don’t call telephone numbers provided in suspicious notices. To verify a notice, find the contact information for the actual agency and call with your questions.

• Never pay debts with gift cards or wire services. Con artists often ask their victims to pay money through gift cards, reloadable debit cards, or wiring services. Government agencies will never ask you to pay a debt using these unusual methods. If you're asked to pay a bill or debt in this fashion, you're dealing with a scammer.

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