Harrisburg, PA — Scam artists are impersonating the Department of Revenue by sending Pennsylvania business owners fraudulent letters in the mail that direct them to turn over their accounting records. The goal of this ploy is to trick unsuspecting taxpayers into providing sensitive financial information, which the criminals behind the scheme can use for a number of illicit activities that could seriously harm a business' financial standing.
"This is a prime example of fraudsters impersonating a government agency as they try to convince hardworking Pennsylvanians to turn over sensitive information about their businesses," Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. "We are urging Pennsylvania business owners to be on high alert if they receive a suspicious notice that includes the Department of Revenue name and logo. If you have any doubt at all about the legitimacy of a notice from the department, please use the contact information listed on our website, revenue.pa.gov. This is the best way to ensure you are speaking with a legitimate staff member at the Department of Revenue."
Understanding the Scam
The goal of this scam is to make the recipient of the letter believe they are being investigated by the Department of Revenue for an "alleged violation of delinquent sales tax liability." The letter also threatens taxpayers by saying penalties will be imposed on their accounts. Further, the letter includes contact information for a "Resolution Officer" and urges the business owner to provide accounting records prepared by a licensed professional, such as an attorney or CPA.
Providing this information allows the scammers to comb through the accounting records for sensitive information such as bank account numbers and other financial data, which could be used to make unauthorized transactions, request fraudulent tax refunds, and even apply for loans under the name of the business.
Although these counterfeit notices bear the department's name and logo, the notices include suspicious and inaccurate details that can help differentiate between a counterfeit notice sent by a scam artist and a legitimate notice sent by the Department of Revenue. Be on the lookout for notices that make dubious claims or include suspicious details. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Tips to Avoid This Scam
The Department of Revenue is encouraging Pennsylvanians to keep the following tips in mind to safeguard against this scam:
Steps To Follow if You Have a Question
If you are concerned about a potentially fraudulent notice, please visit the department's Verifying contact by the Department of Revenue webpage for verified phone numbers and contact information. This will help you ensure that you are speaking with a legitimate representative of the department.