SALEM - The Oregon Department of Revenue is warning taxpayers to beware of e-mail and telephone scams that use the agency's name as a lure to obtain personal and financial information.
Taxpayers have reported receiving phone calls from fraudsters posing as Department of Revenue tax collectors. The caller tells the person that they owe the state money, and asks them to wire a payment immediately to clear up their tax issue. Other taxpayers have reported receiving robocalls informing them they can claim a large tax rebate if they call back to a certain phone number.
People also have reported instances of "phishing," in which phony tax agency e-mails and websites are used to trick people into revealing information like numbers for Social Security, bank accounts, or credit cards.
"These scams occur throughout the year, but tend to become more prevalent during the tax filing season," said Theresa Schuh, manager of Revenue's Personal Income Tax Program. "Taxpayers need to be cautious and on their guard whenever someone is asking them for money or for personal information."
Several tips to help guard against fraud:
-- The Oregon Department of Revenue doesn't initiate contact with a taxpayer by e-mail. If you receive such an e-mail do not reply, open any attachments, or click on any web links.
-- Revenue will never ask a taxpayer to wire money to any destination, either within the United States or to a foreign country. (Scam artists asked one taxpayer to wire money to Lima, Peru.) The department does allow different electronic payment options, such as direct debit from your bank accounts or credit card payments. Visit Revenue's web site at http://www.oregon.gov/dor/ESERV/Pages/epayments.aspx for more information about electronic payments.
-- The Oregon Department of Revenue maintains a list of official mailing addresses for our various offices and the post office boxes we use at http://www.oregon.gov/dor/Pages/contact_us.aspx . "If you're asked to send something to an address not on these lists, it's not us," Schuh said.
-- One clear sign that an e-mail or website purporting to be Revenue might be fake: it has an address that ends in .com or .net. Most official agency business comes from websites and e-mails that have .gov or state.or.us in the address.
If a taxpayer ever feels suspicious about a call from someone claiming to be from Revenue, they should ask for the person's extension number and then call the agency directly at 1-800-356-4222, Schuh said. Taxpayers also should feel free to call that number to check the validity of any robocall they might receive.
Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, check the status of your refund or make tax payments, or call 1-800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish); (503) 378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon; or e-mail, email@example.com. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 1-800-886-7204. Due to the amount of calls the department receives during tax season, you may experience extended waiting times.