(Walhalla, SC)————————————–In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing today our July 2021 Scams Update.
A deputy received word recently of a scam in which a citizen received a letter indicating that their personal property taxes were delinquent and that a tax execution was entered against the citizen by the County Delinquent Tax Collector’s office. The letter came from what was described as a credit services company who stated that the case had been referred to them in regards to collection of the delinquent taxes.
The letter sent to the victim also made threats to seize assets and that the outstanding tax amount could be also referred to the South Carolina Department of Revenue in order to seize the victim’s income tax refunds to satisfy the tax debt. The letter contained a phone number to call and offered payment options online as well as through the mail. The letter contained a credit card receipt in order to make payment.
The amount that the victim was notified that was due was $1,360.75, which was a combined total of the principal balance and collection fees as well.
“One of the biggest weapons that scammers use is to create a sense of urgency when they try to scam someone. In this case, it is pay us now to resolve this issue or we will seize your assets and any future income tax payments” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, PIO, of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “When this happens, victims can panic, and in that panic, they can make decisions that more than likely they would not make otherwise. In this case, the person who received the letter contacted the county and found out that they are not delinquent in their taxes. Even though it is difficult, we advise our citizens to remain calm in these situations and contact the appropriate parties or agencies to get the official word on what is happening before they make a rash decision that could cost them money or that could compromise their personal identifying information or any financial account information.”
A victim spoke with a deputy concerning receiving a text message which stated that if the victim did not text back within a certain amount of time, then the victim’s social security number, driver’s license, an online account and a bank account would be hacked. The victim did not reply to any of the text messages but did notify her bank.
Later, the victim called back and informed deputies that some unknown person had hacked into an online account.
“As with the previous scam, the scammer used the same technique of creating a sense of urgency in order to get the victim to act. In this particular case, the victim did the right thing but not replying to the text but did notify her bank,” says Master Deputy Watt. “In order to protect your online accounts, regardless if it is an e-mail account, a social media account or a financial account, we recommend you change your passwords on a regular basis in order to protect those accounts.”