DIFS Alerts Consumers to Recurring Scam and How to Avoid It
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 18, 2022
(LANSING, MICH) The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is reminding consumers of best practices to avoid being victimized by a recurring scam in which impostors call consumers and identify themselves as financial institutions and utility companies requesting payments or personal information.
“It is frustrating that these criminals continue to find new ways to exploit unsuspecting residents, but DIFS is committed to providing Michiganders with resources and recommendations on how to keep their personal and financial information safe from predators,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Even if your phone’s caller ID displays a legitimate business’s name, you should be wary of anyone calling you asking for payment or personal information of any kind. If you think the call might be legitimate, hang up and call the number on your billing statement or other documentation from the company before giving out any information or making a payment.”
One recent version of this scam involves criminals posing as DTE Energy contacting customers first via text message and then by phone call asking them to make missed payments through a website, often using cash transfer apps such as Zelle. DTE Energy has confirmed that it will never contact customers through text messaging. If you are unsure about a caller claiming to be a DTE employee, the utility recommends that you hang up and call their customer service line at 800-477-4747.
Here are the most important steps that consumers can take to avoid falling prey to these recurring scams:
- NEVER give personal or account information to anyone calling YOU, even if the caller says that it is for “verification purposes.” Personal information or identity verifying information should be provided only to organizations or companies that you have called or initiated contact with.
- If the person contacting you says that there is a problem that must be resolved immediately, hang up and call the phone number that you know will get you to someone who can be trusted with personal or account information. This could be the phone number on your debit or credit card, account statement, or on mailed correspondence from the company. Do NOT call phone numbers provided in text messages or voicemails by the person contacting you, and never reply to an unsolicited text message.
- Use multifactor authentication measures in addition to a password to log into accounts, such as a security code sent via text message or email. Do NOT provide this security code to anyone under any circumstances. Other multifactor authentication measures can include a scan of your fingerprint, retina, or face on a mobile device or a passcode via an authentication app.
Individuals who believe they are a victim of fraud should first contact their financial institution or the company that the compromised account is with to attempt to resolve the issue. If you feel the company did not appropriately handle your complaint, contact DIFS by calling 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by completing an online complaint form.
The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.