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County of Sonoma California
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10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO AVOID FRAUD

The Federal Trade Commission publishes a list of 10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud. This is an excellent resource that provides helpful tips. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-things-you-can-do-avoid-fraud

NEW IRS TAX SCAM

The IRS has reported that there is a new IRS imposter scam. The IRS imposters send a fake tax notice that claims monies are owed from a prior tax year as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The form looks similar to an actual form used by the IRS.

The IRS advises to be aware of the following red-flags to help you avoid becoming a victim:

  1. The IRS does not initiate contact with you by email or through social media
  2. The IRS does not ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer
  3. The IRS does not request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media
  4. The IRS does not threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.
See detailed information at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/irs-warns-new-tax-bill-scam

FICTIOUS BUSINESS NAME RENEWAL SCAM

If you receive an official looking letter from the Fictitious Business Renewal Center urging you to renew your fictious business name for your business, be aware that this is a scam. This is a private company that charges a fee of $150 to process a fictious business name renewal statement and has no connection to the County.

Business owners can deal directly with the County Clerk’s Office when filing. Customers have two options when filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement. With either option, the cost of filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement is $40 for the first business name and the first owner name. Each additional name is $9. Forms are available in with the County Clerk’s office or online at http://www.sonoma-county.org/clerk/forms.htm.

IRS SCAM

If you receive a phone call from someone purporting to be an agent with the IRS threatening that a lawsuit will be filed unless payment is made—often through an ITunes gift card, wiring money or other means be aware that this is a scam. The IRS does not call taxpayers in this manner or request payment in the form of gift cards.

SHERIFF REPORTS JURY SERVICE TELEPHONE SCAM

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has received at least 20 complaints that a person posing as Lieutenant Vance Berry from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has been telephoning residents stating they had missed jury duty. The suspect advises that the resident must pay money to avoid an arrest warrant. The County has no such person in the sheriff’s office. In addition, law enforcement will not call you to advise that you have a warrant. IF you received such a call, hang up and report to the Sheriff’s office. https://local.nixle.com/alert/5711940/

FIRE INSPECTION SCAM

Bogus invoices are being sent to local businesses from a company called Red Mountain Security and Fire Protection or RMS for fire inspections that never occurred. RMS is not a valid California State Fire Marshall approved vendor. If you receive such an invoice, contact your local fire department. Residents and businesses are encouraged to verify invoice directly with their local fire department that the inspection was requested and provided.

FAKE ‘REFERENDUM’ SCAM TARTGETS SENIORS

If you receive a letter in mail which appears to be from a non-profit group claiming that Congress is attempting to abolish Social Security and asking for a donation of $16.45 or some other amount to help get a referendum ballot to all seniors—be aware that this is a scam.  Do not give your credit card information to such groups or you may find yourself a victim of identity theft.  See article at http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2016/09/bamboozled_group_accused_of_nationwide_scams_targe.html

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