Stark County Prosecutor warns residents about tax scam

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 3:04 PM EDT
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CANTON, Ohio (WOIO) - With the deadline for filing taxes just weeks away, Stark County is warning people to be on the lookout for the latest scam this tax season.

The Prosecutor’s office says several Stark County residents have reported receiving what appears to be a legitimate letter from the “Tax Processing Unit of Stark County, Public Judgment Records” which does not exist.

“The letter isn’t anything uncommon, especially around tax time there are always people who are trying to pull scams and this letter is just another example of that,” said Christian Turner, Director of Public Relations for the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office. “It comes glued together with perforated sides so you would think that it comes from a company or the government.”

The letter has the name and address of the receiver as well as a filing number from “The Federal Tax Authorities.”

“Other things that people want to just be mindful of is punctuation in the wrong places, typos of commonly misspelled words,” Turner said.

The letter says that this is a final demand for nonpayment of taxes and threatens to seize the property of the resident, officials say.

“It’s a final notice even though people haven’t received a previous notice and it’s basically threatening to seize property from the receiver,” said Turner.

The letter also tells the receiver to call a toll-free phone number by a certain date to avoid further action.

“A letter of this kind has not been sent by The Stark County Treasurer’s Office or any other office within the Stark County government. The letter has no affiliation with the county’s collection attempts,” the prosecutor’s office says.

The letter only offers one way to pay, an 800 number so 19 News called it.

“Thank you for calling tax groups, how can I help?” a man on the phone asked.

At first, the man who answered told us we owed money.

“How much is the letter says that you owe mam?” he asked.

But when he learned he was speaking with a news reporter things changed.

“We don’t send these letters it was sent by a third-party marketing group,” the man on the phone claimed.

When we pushed him further he quickly hung up.

“If you don’t owe anything just disregard, throw it away, alright,” the man said.

The Stark County Prosecutors Office listed several ways residents can protect themselves:

  • Look for typos, misspellings of common words, and improper use of punctuation.
  • Avoid the urge to act immediately. Don’t be pressured into making immediate payments.
  • Do your due diligence. Look online to see if others have reported receiving similar letters.
  • Talk with someone you trust. Always check with someone else to see if what you received seems suspicious.
  • Report suspicious letters to local authorities.

“Tell somebody that you trust, let them take a look at it to see if what you received may seem suspicious,” Turner suggested. “The other thing is don’t let them panic you. Don’t be in such a rush in a hurry to make a payment in that way you lose out on your money because we don’t know where in the world these people are. They could be in the U.S. They could be outside of the U.S. and once you send them a payment there’s no guarantee you’ll get it back.”

19 News did a quick search on the internet and found two other counties, one in New Mexico and one in Georgia that have had people receive a nearly identical letter this month also from the tax processing unit and with the same grammatical errors.