Have you received a letter with the heading
"Tax Processing Unit
Erie County Public
This letter will go on to state "Distraint Warrant."
What is a Distraint Warrant?
Distraint warrants are a legally enforceable means of ensuring future payment on back property taxes and liens from delinquent taxpayers. To ensure payment of taxes, the state can issue a warrant to protect the property owner's assets for future liquidation.
Before you start panicking over the large sum of money the letter claims you owe, are you aware of any unpaid taxes you owe? If not, you need to determine if the notice is legitimate. Please be cautious whenever you receive letters that ask for any type of money. Even if the notice appears to be from a government agency, do not take a mailing like this at face value! Do some research. Make phone calls or ask questions of people who you know are legitimate sources. Call our office, we are here to help! We can investigate and will let you know if it’s a legitimate request or a scam.
Who sent this letter? Erie County New York does not have a "Tax Processing Unit." If you owe taxes on a property you would interact with the Erie County Real Property Tax Services. Do you own the property where you received the correspondence? If not, is the alleged tax debt IRS related? If the matter is IRS related, why are you not receiving communication from the IRS?
There are several RED FLAGS one should see with this communication letter:
- Why is there no address on how to contact the company sending this letter?
- What company is attempting to collect this tax debt?
- Who is "Federal Tax Authorities? "The Federal Tax Authorities uses this warrant in collection action, such as a garnishment of wages and bank accounts, property seizures, federal tax refund offset, and creation of a property lien."
- What taxing authority is collecting the outstanding tax debt?
- Why doesn't the letter identify the actual tax owed?
- What tax period is the debt covering?
Erie County Office of Consumer Protection called the number listed in the letter, an unidentified man answered stating "tax relief." When our office asked what company was attempting to collect the tax debt, our call was immediately disconnected. When our office called back we were put on hold for over five minutes before we disconnected. Why is a NYS tax debt letter coming presorted from Los Angeles, CA?
If the consumer who received this letter contacted the 800 number on the letter, the man on the other end of the line would likely have aggressively sought payment for the alleged debt as well as personal information about the consumer, such as their date of birth and social security number.
Please notify our office if you receive a mailing like this. You can file a complaint here. You should also report the incident to the New York State Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.