Montana Department of Justice
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Consumer Protection fraud, scam, theft
COMMON SCAMS – phone calls, e-mails and mail

Fake check scam
You sell something over the Internet and the “buyer” sends you a check in excess of the amount that is owed. The “buyer” contacts you and tells you the excess is for the shipper. You are asked to send “the shipper” a check to make up the difference.

Perhaps, the check sent by the buyer is initially honored by the bank, because it is drawn on a real account. However, the “buyer” who made out the check forged the real account holder’s signature. Because the check is forged, you will not receive any money. However, your check to the scammer/shipper is good and s/he will receive your money.  

Government grant scam call
The caller tells you that you qualify for a government grant. You can do anything with the money. The caller tells you that in order to receive the grant money, you have to complete an application form. That form requests personal information, including your credit card account numbers.

If fact, you receive nothing from the government. Instead, the caller uses your credit card number to make a purchase.

Grandparent scam call (also known as Relative-in-Need scam)
The caller calls you and tells you that s/he is your grandchild. (The caller has done some homework and learned your grandchild’s name. Also, scammers are good at gathering information from the call.) The caller tells you s/he is in trouble. Perhaps the caller tells you that s/he is traveling abroad and is in jail. Money is needed to pay a fine or an attorney in order to get out of jail. The caller urges you not to tell anyone about it. You are to send the money by wire.

If fact, your grandchild is not in trouble. But, your money is gone.

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IRS scam call
The caller represents that s/he is an IRS agent and that you owe some taxes. The caller indicates that you can wire the money or you will be arrested.

In fact, the caller is not with the IRS. The money is going to the scammer.

If you believe you have been a victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), whose office provides independent oversight of IRS activities, has an online form to complete to report these scams.  TIGTA uses this information to attempt to shut down the scammers.  If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, consider filling out the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form.  Otherwise, ignore the  call.  Do not return the scammer’s voicemail.

IRS scam mailer
Some outfits send letters to taxpayers that appear to be official IRS documents warning citizens that the federal government has attached a lien on their home or levied other kinds of fines for failing to pay taxes. In small print, these documents disclose that the sender is not the IRS, but an entity that can help you deal with the IRS. These mailers are misleading and fail to inform taxpayers that free, local help is available (see next section) in many Montana communities for taxpayers with questions.

IRS tax preparation scam e-mail
Scam artists use tax season to phish for all sorts of personal information, including social security numbers, bank account numbers, pin numbers, names, birthdates, and other valuable information. These e-mails are often convincingly realistic, with government seals and intimidating language. The actual IRS does not solicit your personal information through e-mail.  The IRS does, however, offer Taxpayer Assistance Centers in every state, including six in Montana. A complete list is available here.  In addition, the IRS certifies volunteers throughout the state and nation who can also assist with tax preparation for low to moderate income taxpayers – generally taxpayers with an income below $49,000. These Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Sites, or VITA sites, are located throughout Montana, including in many rural communities not served by other IRS programs. A complete list is here. Montana VITA sites can be found in Libby, Lame Deer and points in between.

Lottery/Sweepstakes scam call
The caller tells you that you’ve won the sweepstakes or the lottery. Near the end of the call, you are told that you have to pay some taxes or pay a processing fee in order to receive the money. You could be asked to wire money, or to provide credit card information.

 In fact, the caller takes your money and runs. In effect, the caller has won the “sweepstakes” and you have won nothing.

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“Lower your Interest rate” scam call
The caller indicates that you can reduce your interest rate on all of your credit card debt by consolidating the debts with the caller’s company. The caller indicates that s/he needs your credit card numbers, including expiration dates, in order to undertake the consolidation.

In fact, the caller takes your credit card numbers and makes charges against your accounts.

Microsoft computer scam call
The caller indicates that s/he works for Microsoft and that Microsoft has found that there is a problem with your computer. Perhaps it needs some important updates to prevent hacking (or some other undesirable activity). The caller requests access to provide the needed updates. The caller also indicates that there is a nominal charge to provide the updates and requests credit card payment.

 In fact, the caller accesses your computer and installs spyware and accesses all your information. Also, the caller charges your credit card well more than a nominal amount.  

TEN TIPS FOR THE SAVVY CONSUMER TO PROTECT THEMSELVES

  • NEVER give out personal information to someone soliciting it from you over the phone or the internet. Banks will NEVER call and ask for your personal information.
  • NEVER wire or give money to someone you don’t know. Even if you think it’s someone you know, follow-up to make sure before you wire any money.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Get a security freeze on your credit.
  • Use common sense and do your due diligence: ask around, talk to others, call us if you have any doubts or questions.
  • Be skeptical, resist high pressure tactics, take your time.
  • Ignore postcards and advertisements for free products, sweepstakes wins, magazine sales, etc. If you did not enter into the lottery or sweepstakes that is contacting you, you did not win.
  • Register with the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements. Be alert to small charges that may appear insignificant, but will add up over time.
  • Shred any financial documents or other documents that contain personal information (Social Security numbers, birth dates, personal contact information, bank account or credit card information).

 

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.

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Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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