I got a strange call a few months ago from someone claiming to be the IRS. They weren’t the IRS. I knew pretty quickly they weren’t the IRS, particularly because I had just met with my accountant and knew I was not delinquent. A few folks at church got similar calls and I advised them the IRS wouldn’t call and threaten to have you arrested and the call was a scam.
But now the IRS has engaged private debt collectors to collect delinquent taxes:
A federal law signed in 2015 lets four contractors collect unpaid tax debts for the government. These are unpaid tax debts that were assessed several years ago and which the agency is no longer trying to collect directly.
All four of the companies contracted by the IRS are BBB-accredited businesses: CBE Group, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve, Fairport, New York; Performant, Livermore, California; and Pioneer, Horseheads, New York.
There are many ways to tell whether a call you receive about tax debts is legitimate. According to the IRS, people with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, including letters and phone calls, from the IRS first. The IRS will also always notify taxpayers before sending their accounts to a private collection agency.
You may get a call from a debt collector attempting to collect a debt for the IRS. They shouldn’t tell you they are the IRS and should properly identify themselves as debt collectors. Always ask for them to communicate with you in writing. Don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone. While you may owe something to the IRS, you don’t want to fall prey to scammers who will steal your identity and ruin your credit reports.