Department of Consumer Affairs Warns Residents of Tax Lien Scams

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Miranda Pomiecko: (216) 698-2546; 

CLEVELAND – The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs warns residents about scam mailings that threaten people with seizure of their property, Social Security benefits and tax refunds.

Similar scams have been reported in other states.

“This is just another effort by impostors to shake down people who have experienced financial difficulty,” said Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs Director Sheryl Harris.

The letter has a bogus government seal and purports to come from “Benefits Suspension Unit, Cuyahoga 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 State of Ohio. In all versions of the letter, recipients are urged to call a toll-free number to get instructions for making a payment.

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. The Ohio Department of Taxation can be reached at 1-800-282-1780. The Cuyahoga County Treasury Tax Services Department can be reached at 216-443-7420.
  • 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.

Cuyahoga County residents who received or responded to this mailing are encouraged to file a complaint with the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs at 216-443-7035 or online at