Treasury Warns Tax Scams Are on the Rise

As more and more of us are facing the task of filing our state income tax returns, the Michigan Department of Treasury is cautioning of ramped up, very aggressive, and threatening phone calls being made by criminals impersonating state tax officials. Treasury says those calls are on the rise in Michigan, and we should all be overly cautious when confronted by them.

As the individual income tax season progresses, Treasury officials say they typically observe 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.

Deputy Treasurer Glenn White is head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. He says, “Unfortunately, tax season brings out criminals who use threats for quick cash payouts or promises of a big refund to obtain your private information.” White says, “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 actually the one doing the calling. The callers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to further make the call sound official.

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However, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds every one they will:

  • Never initiate a phone call to ask for personal information…
  • Never 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…
  • Never threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying…
  • Never demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed…
  • Never 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.

To learn more about Michigan’s individual income tax, you can click this link:

http://www.michigan.gov/incometax