91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Scam letters targeting Michigan residents scare those who have unpaid debts

Al Rublinetsky/Alex Rublinetsky - stock.adobe.c

A new scam involving fake collection letters have recently been circulating throughout the state of Michigan.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) and the state Treasury Department are warning Michigan residents about a fake letter scam.

The scam is in the form of a letter which alleges to be from the Treasury Department.

The letter threatens to seize assets including bank accounts, wages, business assets, cars, real estate, refunds and cash if past due debts are not paid.

To settle the debt the letter will make recipients call a toll-free number.

In a press release UIA Director Julia Dale said, “It’s important for businesses to recognize when they are receiving legitimate correspondence from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency and when to be suspicious. Employers face many obstacles every day. Falling victim to an attempt to steal hard-earned income should not be one of them. The UIA urges employers or third-party administrators to contact the agency if they have any suspicions about letters they receive asking for payment.”

The letter may seem real as it will include personal information which is pulled from the internet public records.

The way to spot the difference between a real letter and a scam is to look for the Michigan Treasury Department letterhead.

Treasury letters will also involve the names of the governor and the state treasurer, provide options to resolve debt and also outline taxpayer rights.

UIA letters will have the names of the governor and the director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) as UIA is a part of LEO.

The state says the letters also target businesses.

Any business that is unsure about official-looking correspondence requesting direct unemployment insurance payments should call the UIA’s Office of Employer Ombudsman at 1-855-484-2636.

State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said, “It is disheartening to see the lengths scammers will go to make a quick buck from Michigan residents. The state of Michigan works collaboratively with individuals to find solutions to their outstanding state debts. If you receive an aggressive and threatening letter, please contact us through a verified phone number so we can log the scam and talk about options.”

The UIA also posts correspondence to an employer’s Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account. If an employer has questions about their account, a payment, or their balance, they should contact UIA by calling 1-855-484-2636.

Attempts at fraud or identity theft can also be reported through an employer’s MiWAM account.

Individuals who receive a letter from a scammer or have questions about their state debts should call the Treasury's Collections Service Center at 1-517-636-5265. A customer service representative can log the scam, verify outstanding state debts, and provide flexible payment options.

Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Treasury, Ron Leix said, “Michigan Department of Treasury will have a nondescript envelope but when you open the letter you'll know when you see it. It'll have the governor's name on top and then it will have the treasurer's name on top, the coat of arms in the center and it'll be very formalized about the issue at hand.”

“The [scam] letter will say hey such and such business or such and such taxpayer or personal name you owe X amount and if you don't pay X amount we're going to come after you and seize your property, we're going to seize your money, we're going to seize your bank accounts, and we're going to seize other assets,” Leix said.

CLARIFICATION: An earleir version of this story was not clear that what Ron Leix is talking about in the last paragraph is what the scam letter will say. We have updated the story to make that more clear.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern and is currently working in his second summer. He is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.