Tax Day has come and gone and you think you’re free and clear for another year. But just when you’re about to put your feet up and relax, you notice a piece of mail wedged in between two catalogs. It’s from the “Property Tax Department.” Sounds official. Looks official. There’s a bar code on it and everything. Now, what does it say? Well, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is, your house has gone down in value. The good news? This means you will pay lower property taxes if you have your home reassessed. Act now and for $100, you can lower your property tax bill by $2000 a year! Who doesn’t want to save that kind of money?
Wait – is it a scam? Totally. Call your county assessor’s office. Turns out you can request a reassessment for FREE. Any money you send these people will be deposited quickly into their grimy little pockets.
There are endless variations on the “official” letter scam. People receive letters claiming to be from the Census Bureau, the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, you name it. Some, like the property tax scam, ask for payment up front. Others ask for personal information that will help them tap into your accounts and steal your identity.
Businesses are targeted too. Small businesses across the country received letters on what looked like Small Business Administration letterhead, telling them that they might be eligible for a tax rebate. To verify their eligibility, all they had to provide was the name of their bank and an account number.
Scammers know that letters that appear official are less likely to raise suspicion and more likely to elicit a response. No one wants to be audited by the IRS. On the other hand, everyone is happy to save money on their taxes.
Think back to those TV ads where a doctor is touting the benefits of some new diet pill. Is he really a doctor? Well, he is wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope. Then again, so is your toddler. Just because it looks kosher doesn’t mean it is.