LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Michigan Department of Treasury is warning taxpayers of aggressive and threatening phone calls made by criminals impersonating state tax officials.
Within the last couple of days, the state Treasury Department has observed a surge in scam phone calls where scammers are claiming to be state tax officials and asking for cash through a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card. Victims are told they owe money and will face arrest, legal action or suspension of business if not paid promptly.
Scammers are also altering caller ID numbers to make it look like Treasury is calling from its Escanaba Field Office. The callers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to sound official.
“Unfortunately, scammers are consistently using new tricks and tactics to take advantage of taxpayers,” 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.”
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 a PIN, password or access codes to your bank accounts or 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 517-636-5265 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.