Phone scams target taxpayers
Aggressive and threatening phone calls made by criminals impersonating state tax officials are on the rise in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
As the individual income tax season progresses, Treasury typically observes a surge in scam phone calls where scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be tax officials and asking for cash through a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card. Additionally, the criminals may leave “urgent” callback requests through robocalls or phishing emails.
“Unfortunately, tax season brings out criminals who use threats for quick cash payouts or promises of a big refund to obtain your private information,” said Deputy Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “The Michigan Department of Treasury doesn’t initially contact taxpayers through the phone. Our first interaction is generally done by mail.”
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service or another agency is calling. The callers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to sound official.
The Treasury will never:
– Initiate a phone call to ask for personal information.
– Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, Treasury will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
– Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
– 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.
Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they owe taxes should hang up immediately if they receive one of these calls. For individuals who owe taxes or think they do, they can call 517-636-4486 to find out their account balance information.
Taxpayers who have received a call from a scammer should report the case to the IRS through the web or by calling 800-366-4484.