Tax scam circulates in area

May 7—TRIAD — Consumer advocates are warning about threatening letters being mailed by con artists purporting to be tax agents trying to collect overdue payments.

The Better Business Bureau of Central and Northwest North Carolina on Tuesday issued an alert after a Guilford County taxpayer recently received a letter from an entity named the Tax Processing Unit. The letter claimed that the man owed more than $14,000 in back taxes to federal tax authorities and threatened seizure of property and garnishment of bank accounts and income.

The man who received the letter contacted the Better Business Bureau, which confirmed the letter was fraudulent.

The man was the first taxpayer to contact the Better Business Bureau about the scam, and the agency put out the alert to keep taxpayers from being conned, Better Business Bureau Director of Communications Lechelle Yates said.

"This is a classic tax impersonation scam letter hoping to scare people into paying taxes they do not owe," Yates said. "If they call the 800 number (in the letter), they'll receive instructions to make a payment by wire transfer, prepaid debit card or other nontraditional payment methods because these methods are mainly untraceable and nonreversible."

The Internal Revenue Service or other tax collection agencies, such as the Guilford County Tax Department, won't demand immediate payment, require a specific form of payment or ask for a credit card or debit card number over the phone.

Taxpayers should be leery of letters, phone calls, emails or text messages using alarmist language to demand immediate payment, consumer advocates say.

"This is a common scare tactic used by scammers," Yates said.

Taxpayers should also be aware of tax collection letters with inaccurate grammar or confusing sentence structures, which indicates that the correspondence wasn't sent by a legitimate tax agency.

"Awkward or poorly worded sentences, weird capitalization or other inaccuracies are often the sign the letter may be a scam," Yates said. — 336-888-3528 — @HPEpaul

For more information The Better Business Bureau of Central and Northwest North Carolina serves as a clearinghouse for consumer information. For more information, call the BBB local office in Greensboro at 336-852-4240 or check the web site