Montana AG on Elder Scams and Who to Blame for High Property Taxes
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen filled the phone lines on Thursday's KGVO Talk Back show, answering questions about financial scams, especially on the elderly, as well as a question about who is most responsible for the meteoric rise in property taxes.
“At the State Department of Justice, we do deal with phone scams,” began Knudsen. “With internet scams, which typically go through our Office of Consumer Protection, we investigate; we go after robo calls, and we go after scams. “A lot of times those can be difficult because they're usually foreign actors, so it's usually somebody not within the U.S. doing those.”
Knudsen said Heartless Scammers are Targeting the Elderly
Knudsen said these heartless scammers usually target the elderly by posing as government officials demanding cash on the spot from elderly victims.
“They're targeting more and more seniors,” he said. “We see a lot of this. Scammers will call these elderly people and they'll claim to be the IRS and they'll say, ‘you owe us money, and you’re going to pay it right now or we're going to come arrest you’. That's not how the IRS works. The IRS is never going to call you and tell you that they need your bank account number, or they need you to go buy Apple gift cards to pay your taxes right now while they've got you on the phone; that is a scam. But that's a very common one that we deal with.”
Knudsen has Set Up a Whole New Department to Deal with Elder Crime
Knudsen said the problem with scams targeting the elderly has become so pernicious that he has set up a whole new department within his agency to deal with it.
“I've actually set up a whole new Elder Justice Team on our criminal side,” he said. “I've got a full-time criminal investigator and a full-time criminal prosecutor, and this is all they do now at our State Department of Justice. That's how seriously we're taking this elder justice issue because that's how many of these scams we're seeing in Montana now. So my advice is if you get one of these calls, or one of these texts, or one of these emails and you're a little suspicious about it, please contact us. Contact the State Department of Justice. I mean, just run it by us, because odds are it's probably a scam.”
Knudsen said the Legislature will have to Find a Way to Lower Property Taxes
One caller asked what the Attorney General’s office could do about the rapid rise in property taxes, to which he said cities, counties, and the state legislature has to come up with a solution so that the elderly won’t be taxed out of their homes.
“Your county commissioners do have some authority to float your property taxes down,” he said. “They don't have to leave those mills up, as they have historically always been. I agree with you. This needs to be fixed at the legislative level. I worry they're going to end up in front of a judge who's going to make this decision for us. Personally, I think the legislature should either come in or when they come back in a year and a half, and they need to fix this.”
Attorney General Knudsen also provided his email address for anyone who would like to ask him a question directly.