Scammers bloom like flowers during tax season
The unfortunate annual rise of scammers has emerged as tax season rushes toward its inevitable end on April 15.
To address the scourge, the Oregon Department of Revenue put out a warning last week to taxpayers to be extra vigilant as that fateful day approaches.
"It's never safe to let down you guard …," a release from the agency said. "Scam tactics are always evolving and becoming more effective. Scammers try many different methods to trick people into giving them personal information and money."
To thwart the felons, the ODR suggests that taxpayers view their account activity, balances and credits, and make payments directly to the ODR online at www.oregon.gov/dor.
"It's secure and includes all the information necessary to verify account status and ensure payments are properly applied to the correct account," the release said, adding that scammers have created ways to divert taxpayers via a link that appears to take them to a government website, but in reality forwards them to a nefarious website.
The department said scammers typically operate via three particularly mechanisms: unsolicited calls, letters and fake websites.
Unsolicited calls. Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be representatives of the ODR 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 ODR never uses methods like these when making calls. Hang up on suspicious phone calls," the release said.
Regardless of how urgent a message makes a situation sound, hang up and call the ODR at 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 to ensure you're dealing with an actual government employee.
Letters. Letters often contain legitimate logos, addresses and phone numbers to fool you.
"Sometimes, these letters expose themselves as scams through blurry logos, misspellings and poor grammar," the release said. "Letters are usually in the form of a fake tax bill or claim an error with your account."
Letters from the ODR will include information that is verifiable through our website using the identification number printed on each letter.
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 an official federal or state agency site. Remember, the ODR's web address will always begin with an "https://" designation and have the ".gov" extension. Look for these in the web address before entering financial information to make sure you're dealing with the department directly.