Sales tax scam, email hoax cost Oregon $707,000

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Businesses beware: Internet scam trying to sell sales tax certificates, tax ID numbers
By Oregon Department of Revenue

SALEM—If you’re a business owner, an official-looking website selling federal employment identification numbers (FEINs) and sales tax certificates is a scam, the Oregon departments of Revenue and Justice announced.  Because Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax, businesses don’t need a sales tax certificate, even though the website, www.online-tax-id-number.org, says you do.   According to the website, “If you live in Oregon and you sell or ship something to someone else in Oregon, then you must collect and pay sales tax to the State of Oregon.”

“The first problem with this is that Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax,” said Elizabeth Harchenko, Revenue department director. “Retailers don’t need Oregon sales tax certificates. The second problem is that no one has to pay to register as a business with Oregon or with the IRS.”

FEINs are issued by the IRS and businesses can get them free.

The Oregon Department of Justice receives thousands of calls a year about scams. Most involve phishing, where scammers seek sensitive financial information from consumers.

Another common complaint is about international wire transfers, where scammers try to trick consumers into sending them money. The Department of Justice received 1,021 complaints about international wire transfer scams in 2009 with $707,783 in reported losses.

To stay informed about scams, sign up for the Scam Alert Network, an e-mail alert network. Sign up for this free service at www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov.

If you have questions about possible scams, call the toll-free Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-877-877-9392.