State urges taxpayers to be alert for scams
SALEM – Despite the fact that we're smack dab in the middle of the giving season, the Oregon Department of Revenue is advising taxpayers to not let their guard down as scam tactics are becoming more sophisticated and brazen by the day.
The department used an incident in southern Oregon as a cautionary tale: A taxpayer visited the department's Medford office because they received a letter — supposedly from Jackson County — demanding tens of thousands of dollars to resolve their "debt." Appearing official at first blush, the letter was actually another tactic scammers have adopted to trick people into giving them money or personal information.
The best way for taxpayers to make payments directly to the Department of Revenue is through Revenue Online (https://oregon.gov/dor). It's secure and includes all the information necessary to ensure the payment is properly applied to the correct account.
The DOR advised people to beware as payment scammers can provide links that appear to direct you to the government site, but instead take you to another area of the provider's site.
Scams mainly come in the form of a phone call, email or standard mail.
Here are some tips to help you identify scam attempts.
Scammers make unsolicited calls. Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be representatives of the Oregon Department of Revenue or other tax officials. They demand the victim pay a bogus tax bill and may use threats or a sense of urgency to con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
"The Department of Revenue doesn't use methods like these when making calls," the release said. "Hang up on suspicious phone calls."
Regardless of how urgent a message appears, taxpayers can always hang up, call the Department of Revenue at 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 and know that they're dealing with an actual government employee.
Scammers send letters. Letters sometimes can contain legitimate logos, addresses and phone numbers to fool you. Sometimes, these letters expose themselves as scams through blurry logos, misspellings and poor grammar. Letters are usually in the form of a fake tax bill or claiming an error with your account. Letters from the Department of Revenue will have information that is verifiable through our website and every letter is printed with an identification number in the upper right corner.
Scammers set up fake websites. Some scams that start as unsolicited calls or letters may also try to send you to fake websites. These websites are designed to look like and official federal or state agency site. The Oregon Department of Revenue's web address always begins with an "https://" designation and be from the ".gov" extension. Look for these in the web address when entering financial information to ensure you're dealing with us directly.