Treasury spreads word about scams; critical to be vigilant

Have you been on the other end of a troubling, suspicious call, email or letter recently? Has someone claimed to be a tax official and asked for your personal information? If so, it’s critical to avoid potential scams by remaining vigilant, as the Michigan Department of Treasury is reminding residents that the summer season is a common time for criminals to contact residents and pose as government officials who ask for cash through a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card.

Due to this, the department urges Michiganders to stay alert for potential scammers impersonating tax officials through phone calls, emails and fake letters through the U.S. Postal Service.

Scammers often alter their identity to portray themselves as the state Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service or another government agency. They tend use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to seem official, according to the treasury. These scammers tend to make urgent and aggressive requests through robocalls, emails or fake letters, officials say.

Because of this, the Michigan Department of Treasury is reminding residents that it does not:

— Demand an immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the treasury will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes, outlining peaceful steps to be taken to resolve a debt.

— Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

— Threaten to seize a taxpayer’s property including bank accounts, wages, business assets, cars, real estate and cash if the debt is not settled.

— Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

— Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or through email.

The treasury notes taxpayers should hang up immediately if they receive a call from a scammer and that emails should be deleted immediately.

Individuals who have questions about their state debts should call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at 517-636-5265.

We urge our readers to keep this information in mind and remain vigilant. Scammers have become more and more sophisticated over the years, and have developed a host of techniques designed to separate victims from their money and their valuable personal information. We hope our readers will stay alert and help spread the word to others about the tactics used by scammers, as knowing how to identify a scammer is key to keeping your personal information and finances safe.


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