Department of Revenue Warns of Tax Scams

February 26, 2020

The Montana Department of Revenue warns all residents to be aware of numerous scams and frauds related to their tax information and potential refunds.

“Most Montanans are honest and trust others to be honest too, but unfortunately criminals around the world target our taxpayers and their personal information,” said Gene Walborn, director of the Montana Department of Revenue. “A little bit of caution and awareness can go a long way to protecting your information and making sure no one can abuse it.”

Here are some common tax season scams.

Paying for a Refund

If a caller says they have your tax refund, but you’ll have to pay a “fee” to receive it, it’s a scam.

The Department of Revenue will never demand money before giving you your refund.

Threatening Letters and Phone Calls

Montanans have received letters saying they owe taxes to Montana, and that the state will seize their property, garnish their Social Security, or even arrest them.

If you owe back taxes to Montana, this is not how we will contact you.

The Department of Revenue may contact individual taxpayers or businesses by phone, but in nearly all cases we will call only after sending at least one letter by U.S. mail. Such calls may come from our Collections unit to discuss past-due taxes or a payment plan, and we may need to verify information, but we will never threaten a taxpayer with arrest for non-payment.

A sample of a scam letter sent to threaten taxpayers.

Example of a scam letter threatening legal action against a taxpayer.

Unclaimed Property, For a Fee

The Department of Revenue distributes unclaimed assets, such as insurance payouts, mineral royalties or old bank balances, to thousands of Montanans each year. But the department doesn’t charge for it. Private parties that will locate unclaimed property for a fee are not necessarily breaking the law, but it is not necessary to use them. And the department will not contact owners individually about unclaimed property.

Check to see if you have unclaimed property using the TransAction Portal (TAP).

Phishing for Data

Don’t click links on unsolicited emails. These links could infect your computer with malware that can jeopardize the security of your personal data such as your Social Security Number or banking information.

Do not provide personal information if you are not sure who you are talking to. To verify a call is from the Department of Revenue, call our Collections unit at (406) 444-6949.

Learn more about tax fraud in Montana.