State officials sound alarm on tax season, investor scams

The Western News

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Investment scams cost consumers nearly $5 billion in 2023 and in response, the state is hosting several events meant to help consumers avoid becoming victims.

The Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance is hosting 16 investor protection events in western Montana this month, including one in Libby near the end of the month.

The Libby Senior Center, located at 206 E. Second St., will host the event from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, March 28. It is free and open to the public. Snacks will be provided.

The events are part of the Protecting the Big Sky Tour – a series of educational presentations to inform adults and seniors about common investment scams as well as how to detect and prevent financial exploitation.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing more than $4.6 billion in 2023 to investment scams nationwide. Investment scams were the most reported in 2023.

There are two other events being held in northwest Montana.

The Thompson Falls Senior Center will host one from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 and the Kalispell Public Library will hold one from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 28.

Also, the Montana Department of Revenue recently released information on how people can avoid tax season scams.

The most recent scam involves the advertising of a 1-800 number for the Department of Revenue that mimics the department’s call center number.

When the taxpayer called that number, they were routed to a fraudster who attempted to get the taxpayer’s social security number and immediate payment for money that the taxpayer allegedly owed. Thankfully, the taxpayer was already suspicious of the number and instead reported the incident to us.

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, or to verify information.

To verify a call or a letter you received is from the Department of Revenue, please call our Call Center at 406-444-6900. 

Other common tax season scams include:

  • 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 arrest, or seizure of your property: Taxpayers have received letters saying they owe taxes to Montana, and that the state will seize their property, or even file a warrant for their arrest.
  • Unclaimed Property, for a fee: The Department of Revenue returns unclaimed assets, such as insurance payouts, mineral royalties or old bank balances, to thousands of Montanans each year. You do not have to pay a fee to collect your own unclaimed property if you submit a claim directly with the department. Search at to see if you have property with the department. 
  • 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.

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