After failed attempts in the past, the Internal Revenue Service has engaged the services of four private-sector collection agencies. As most people are aware, there are numerous tax-related scams in today’s world. If you are contacted by someone who states they are attempting to collect a tax debt for the IRS, you need to know what to expect and how to determine if the individual is legitimate.
What debts will the IRS turn over to the private collectors?
The IRS will assign the private collectors individual tax obligations that are not currently being worked by the IRS. So, these are old accounts that the IRS has basically given up on. This means two things to the taxpayer. One, it is a debt of which you should be aware. Two, you have been contacted in the past by the IRS about the debt. You’ve probably been contacted multiple times. Unless you have a bad memory, you should know what the collector is referring to when you are contacted.
How will I know that the debt has been turned over to the private collectors?
Initially, the IRS will send you a letter before transferring your account to a private collection agency (PCA). The letter will contain the name and contact information of the PCA that has been assigned your case.
There are four PCA’s participating in this program – CBE Group, Conserve, Performant, and Pioneer. Subsequent to the letter from the IRS, informing you of the transfer, the designated agency will send you a letter confirming the account transfer. Both the IRS and the PCA letters will contain information that will help the taxpayer identify the amounts owed and help assure the taxpayer that the letter and any subsequent phone calls are legitimate. The PCA’s will identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes.
What acts does the PCA have authority to perform?
The private firms may discuss payment options and setting up a payment schedule. They are NOT authorized to accept any payments. All payments under the agreement should be made and sent to the IRS or the United States Treasury, either electronically or by check. PCA’s will not demand immediate payment or ask for credit card numbers over the phone. Additionally, they will not demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a gift card.
The PCA’s are not authorized to take enforcement action against taxpayers. This includes notice of filing a lien or issuing a levy against the taxpayer’s property. These items can only be performed by IRS employees. In addition, they will not threaten to bring in local police of other law enforcement agencies.
Bottom line, if you have paid your taxes and get a call from someone claiming you have an unpaid tax debt, it is more than likely a scam. If you want to verify that you have no unpaid tax debts, you can go to www.IRS.gov/balancedue. Being alert can save you from being taken by scammers. If you have a legitimate tax debt, pay it. If it is not legitimate, contact the IRS.