The Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) recently received information that scam artists are targeting Pennsylvania business taxpayers with fraudulent letters from the " Tax Assessment Procedures, Domestic Judgment Registry," "Tax Lien Group," or the "Tax Processing Unit." The letters make threats, including the seizure of taxpayers' property unless they immediately contact the toll free number provided.
Similar scams have been reported to the Department of Revenue and IRS in recent years. It follows a common strategy that involves scam artists posing as a public official or a government entity. The goal is to cause confusion and use high-pressured tactics to swindle money from unsuspecting victims.
Understanding the Scam
Taxpayers have reported receiving these fraudulent notices through the mail from the Tax Assessment Procedures, Domestic Judgment Registry," "Tax Lien Group," or the "Tax Processing Unit." See samples of the fraudulent letters and how to spot them below:
- These particular notices have come from multiple locations and counties within Pennsylvania.
- The letters include the statement, "You have previously been notified by the State of Pennsylvania of a lien imposed …" Legitimate notices would reference the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry.
- The letters refer to a "levy" rather than "lien" and refer to the terms "seizure" or "forfeiture," which is not typically used by the Department.
Tips to Avoid This Scam
L&I is encouraging Pennsylvania businesses to keep the following tips in mind to safeguard against this scam and others:
Contact the State Agency Directly: Only visit official Pennsylvania websites to gather information and use verified contact methods. Remember, official Pennsylvania agency site domains and email addresses end in "pa.gov." Reaching out to us directly is the best way to avoid a scam.
Look Closely for Imposters: Many times con artists will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are contacted through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you can verify you are speaking to a legitimate representative.
Examine the Notice: Con artists often design vague communications to cast a wide net to lure in as many victims as possible. Examine the notice for identifying information that can be verified. Look for blatant factual errors and other inconsistencies, such as a fake return address. If the notice is unexpected and states 'This Is Your Final Notice,' take a moment and verify its legitimacy. The Department of Labor and Industry will send multiple notices to taxpayers if there is a legitimate liability owed.
Unusual Payment Methods: Avoid scenarios where you are asked to pay your debt with reloadable debit cards, gift cards or money wiring services. The Department of Labor and Industry and other government agencies will never ask you to satisfy an outstanding liability using these payment methods.
Conduct Research Online: Use the information in a potentially fraudulent notice, such as company name, address or telephone number, to conduct a search online. Look for information to confirm if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies.
Steps to Follow if You Have a Question
If you receive a suspicious notice, do NOT call the toll-free number provided. Instead, directly contact the appropriate tax agency through a published phone number or web site.
If you have questions about your federal taxes, contact the IRS. For local property taxes, contact your local taxing authority.
If your question pertains to your Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Tax liability, contact Employer Tax Services at 866-403-6163 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time or email@example.com.
Also, Report Fraud & Identity Theft through the PA Fraud Hotline: 800-692-7469.