AUGUSTA — The attorney general Friday warned Mainers to be suspicious of people calling and demanding immediate payment of a debt, especially if they require the payment be made by reloadable cash cards, such as Green Dot Money Pak, or wire service.

Attorney General Janet Mills said her office has received many reports recently of “aggressive calls from scammers demanding immediate payments on supposed debts.”

“The names and the details of the scams vary,” she said in a press release. “Typically the caller pretends they are from a business that you know and are attempting to collect an old debt. Perhaps they say you have won a lottery.

“Sometimes they even claim to be from the state or federal government,” Mills continued. “The caller has just enough information about you that you believe they are legitimate. The red flag, however, is that they want you to make an instant payment with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. This is how you know you are getting scammed. Hang up the phone immediately.”

One Maine resident recently recorded his interaction with a scammer claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the news release said. His call illustrated several tactics used by phone scammers. They claimed to be from an entity the target is familiar with and to which he has the potential to owe money.

When challenged about his authenticity, the scammer tried to reassure the target by giving a badge number in order to sound official, according to the news release. The payment could only be made by “Green Dot Money Pak,” available at drug store or discount department store chains.

The scammers also are not easily dissuaded, Mill warned. Different people repeatedly called residents, making the same claims in order to make the caller think they were legitimate.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned people about scams like this, and the FTC has a website with information about the IRS scam and other common phone scams, such as the foreign lottery, extended car warranties or charitable causes.

Maine consumers who have questions about phone scams or other consumer protection matters can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-436-2131 or emailing [email protected]

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