RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Letters are popping up all over North Carolina about a realistic-looking scam letter that’s trying to take money from you, claiming you have unpaid taxes. 

Taxes — everybody pays them and if they are not paid, there can be serious consequences to that. 

That’s why the letters can be so effective because they prey on your fear that you haven’t paid money that’s owed to the government.

The threat of losing the roof over your head can cause all kinds of stress. Letters that have been circulating in Union County as well as Halifax County targeting taxpayers with the phony claim that liens have been placed on their home for nonpayment of taxes to the IRS. 

The scam letters are common but effective. 

To find out if they would trick anyone, Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia showed a copy of one around Raleigh. 

If I saw something like this in the mail, I probably would think it would be real,” said Marvin Cofield. 

The threat of an IRS on his home was what really frightened him he told us. 

“That’d be kind of dramatic,” he said. 

Sbraccia took a close look at the letter pretending to be from Union County to dissect it and see its red flags. 

The first clue is the logo. It is not the Union County seal, but rather some made-up logo with the scales of justice. 

Second, it says the county is collecting for the IRS. Counties don’t do that. The feds collect their own taxes. 

It also gives a number to call. Don’t believe it. 

That number goes to the scammers, not the Union County tax collection department.   

The website listed in the letter ends in .org. No government agency uses .org as a website to collect taxes. 

It also has a QR code. If you scan that, you’ll end up in the scammer’s clutches because it’ll take you to their website which will probably steal your personal information. 

In fact, it was that QR code that helped make one person CBS 17 showed the letter to realize it was fake. 

A woman who identified herself as Indigo from Raleigh saw several red flags in the letter.  

“It was the QR code and just the way it was typed out,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem legit.” 

Millions of dollars are lost each year to those who use the tax lien scam.  

The bad guys try and push you into reacting quickly—and under stress which is the hallmark of a scam.  

Because this scam comes in the mail, it has an air of authenticity. 

If you have any questions about a letter like that do not respond to anything in it. 

Instead, go on the web, look up your county tax department and call them with the number you find online. 

They can confirm if you really owe anything.