Phishing scams are not limited to email and bad actors are even using snail mail to create fear of sales tax audits in the hope of defrauding businesses, according to a warning issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on July 14, 2022.
Fraudulent letters titled “Notice of Investigation” were sent to several companies informing them that they are under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Revenue and Cash Disbursements Unit, further claiming the probe involves “the alleged violation of delinquent sales tax liability collected per client served and not reported to the Sales and Use Taxation reporting agency.”
The letter requests “accounting records from 2019-2020 from a licensed CPA, Attorney, FDIC Banker, Accountant. All and correctly dated and prepared Profit Loss and Balanced Sheet for each month of each year including Yearly closing statements. (Self-prepared) reports will not be allowed. All reports must be signed dated and certified by any of the above License Professionals. Estimated penalties will be imposed. To comply with the auditing officer, please call 1-800-922-1377 immediately.”
The letter appears to be signed, in a cursive computer font, by the state’s resolution officer and includes an official looking “Agent ID” number along with a copy of the official Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s official logo.
The scam is an important reminder to be vigilant in protecting your company’s sensitive information from thieves and look for opportunities to recognize counterfeit notices alleging to be sent from government entities. In this case, red flags could be found in the letter’s salutation of “dear business owner” or in the grammatical errors throughout the letter. Most official documents will be addressed to the business owner by name. Also, instead of providing a return address, the letter requests a response by phone only and to a fictional unit within the Department of Revenue.
Always reach out directly to agencies directly for confirmation while using known phone numbers and email addresses before answering requests for any information on your company.
It is important to review all notices from states’ Department of Revenue offices upon receipt and act in a timely manner. It is equally important to perform your due diligence and validate what is stated before acting upon a notice.
(Scam Warning: Fraudsters Impersonate Department of Revenue in Letters Targeting Pennsylvania Businesses, media.pa.gov, July 14, 2022)