Beware the scam of the tax collection call

Yet another phone scam has surfaced in Michigan that seeks to intimidate residents by posing as a Michigan Department of Treasury official, insisting a tax debt exists that must be paid immediately.

These scammers have grown more technologically sophisticated, managing to alter their telephone numbers so they appear on caller ID as a treasury phone line. They may even use a real name and title of someone within the department, the agency said.

“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.

Under that guise, they prey on some of the most vulnerable in the community, claiming the person owes back taxes and could be arrested or face legal action unless they pay up. The frightened victim then is told to pay with a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card, according to the treasury department.

The first tip-off if you receive such a call that it’s fake — the Treasury generally makes contact first by mail, not by phone.

According to a statement, the Michigan Department of 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 have police or other law enforcement arrest the person immediately unless payment is made.

— Demand payment without giving the person the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

— Ask for a PIN, password or access codes to bank accounts or credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Residents who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they owe taxes should hang up immediately if they receive one of these calls. Individuals who do owe taxes, or worry they might, can call 517-636-5265 to find out account balance information.

Those who receive a scam call should report the case to the Internal Revenue Service by calling 1-800-366-4484.

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