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Here’s how to avoid scam targeting Southeast Texans who owe or previously owed back taxes

A new Southeast Texas scam has taken to the mail with an “official looking” letter arriving in a perforated envelope, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The letter has a bogus government seal and purports to come from “Benefits Suspension Unit, Jefferson County, Public Judgement Records.” No such office exists.

In some mailings, it appears the county is threatening seizure.

In others, the sender poses as the federal government.

In all versions of the letter, recipients are urged to call a toll-free number to get instructions for making a payment.

Officials emphasize people should not call the number or respond to the letter.

The letter may target people who owe or previously owed back taxes. Use these tips to avoid impostor scams:

• Don’t panic. Threats that you will be arrested or your property or accounts will be seized unless you make a same-day payment are scams.

• Verify phone numbers. Never call a number provided to you by someone who is threatening you. Use a verified number to contact a government agency if you’re worried you might owe.

• Avoid unusual payment methods. No government agency will instruct you to pay using a payment method such as Bitcoin, money wires, mailed cash or gift cards.

• Keep private information private. Don’t share social security or account numbers unless you placed the call to a government agency using a number you independently verified.

If you have questions about your property taxes you can call the Jefferson County Tax Assessor Collectors Office at 1-409-835-8516.