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By CHRIS DICKERSON

CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says consumers should be cautious of calls claiming to be from a representative of the U.S. Department of the Treasury who says the consumer owes money.

In a press release, Morrisey's office says a caller gives a department or badge number and insists that the matter is time sensitive. The phone call ends with direction to contact an attorney or “wish you luck as the situation unfolds.” These calls are similar to the IRS scam calls that the office has alerted consumers to recently.

“While scammers often use high pressure sales tactics to force consumers into bad decisions, the U.S. Treasury will never make threats of violence or ask you to pay via pre-paid cards or wire transfer,” Morrisey said in the release. “The role of the U.S. Treasury can be a complicated and confusing issue for many people.

"Scammers will play on that confusion and prey on vulnerable citizens to swindle them out of their hard-earned money."

The AG's office said consumers need to know that the callers who commit this fraud often:

* Utilize an automated calling machine.

* Use common names and fake U.S. Treasury badge numbers.

* May know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.

* Make caller ID information appear as if the U.S. Treasury is calling.

* Send bogus U.S. Treasury e-mails to support their scam.

* Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or other government agency, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

“Scammers disguise themselves as government officials because they know people often react rashly to calls like this,” Morrisey said. “We want West Virginians to know what they’re dealing with and how to distinguish legitimate inquiries from criminal activity.”

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