Sheriff's Office

For Immediate Release

PR #: 2000113
Date Issued: Sep 03, 2020 - 4:02pm

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam warns of renewed tax scam

CONTACT: Sarah Johns
911 Parr Blvd
Reno, NV. 89512
Office: 775-785-6235
Cell: 775-391-0407

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office recently received information about a renewed financial scam involving a notice threatening to levy social security benefits due to a "tax liability." The notice is issued by unknown persons posing as representatives of Washoe County and the State of Nevada and demands an immediate response to avoid additional penalties.

The notice claims to come from the "Washoe County Benefits Suspension Unit." No such agency exists within Washoe County. Washoe County Treasurer Tammi Davis encourages any resident with questions about Washoe County taxes to contact her office before making payment or providing anyone with personal or financial information. Citizens can also check their property tax status online anytime at /treas.

"This is just the latest scam to use the threat of impending enforcement action to pressure the potential victim for an immediate response," Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said. "Scammers aggressively portray themselves as anyone from sheriff's deputies to court officials in an effort to intimidate their victims.

"The best advice I can give these days is to assume any unsolicited request for money or financial information, coming from a source that you are not one-hundred percent confident is legitimate, should be treated as a scam."

Sheriff Balaam advises that if you receive a request or demand for finances, you should not call the telephone provided in a letter. Instead, independently verify the request by conducting an online search for the person and/or department making such a request. Otherwise, you have the potential to lose tens of thousands of dollars in an era when it is very difficult for law enforcement to track the scammers and recover your loss.

"Be smart. Take steps to protect your personal identity and finances and talk with your friends and family to be sure that they are aware of potential scams as well. Public awareness is one of the most important keys to preventing this type of scam."

According to the IRS, there are five things that scammers often do, but the IRS will never do.

The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying

Financial scammers are able to alter caller identification numbers to make it look like the call is coming from an official agency such as the IRS or the Sheriff's Office and will identify themselves by using fake names and bogus badge numbers.

"The caller may use your name, address, and other identifying information to sound convincing but keep in mind that information is often easily obtainable through resources available to the public," Sheriff Balaam said.

Anyone who has suffered a loss as a result of a scam is encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency. For more information about tax scams and how to report them, visit

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.