Business & Real Estate

FTB warns of scam artists impersonating the state tax agency

The state Franchise Tax Board warned consumers Tuesday to be wary of scam artists posing as California tax officials. In several recent cases, the FTB said phony solicitations were sent to consumers either by phone or email.

In Beverly Hills, a number of elderly residents were contacted by someone purporting to be from the FTB, saying payments were overdue for red-light traffic violations that were caught on camera. Victims were told to put their fines onto a prepaid debit card and mail it to a provided address. They also were given a legitimate FTB number to call.

In other instances, bogus FTB emails offer to check the status of your state tax refund. These “phishing” emails are nothing more than an attempt to get consumers to provide their Social Security, bank or credit card account numbers, the FTB said.

“If you receive a questionable solicitation, contact (the) FTB immediately and talk to a live agent to review your account,” said FTB chair and State Controller John Chiang, in a statement. “Taxpayers should protect their personal information and treat any unsolicited phone calls or emails with caution.”

The FTB reminds consumers that it never accepts tax payments by third-party debit or prepaid credit cards. Nor does it ask for personal PINs, passwords or account numbers when talking with taxpayers by phone.

To report a suspicious contact, call the FTB at (800) 852-5711.

-Claudia Buck