For years, you have been told the IRS will not call to collect debts, but be aware that policy recently changed. It is important to know this, so you can distinguish between a true IRS-related call and a call from con artists pretending to be IRS officials so they can scam you out of money.
In April 2017, the IRS began contracting with four private collection agencies – Conserve, Pioneer, Performant and CBE Group -- to collect on long overdue tax accounts. These agencies will now call individuals who owe the IRS, but only on accounts where there has been no interaction with the taxpayer in more than 365 days and only after the IRS has sent written notices that the account is being turned over to a collection agency. In other words, don’t expect a sudden IRS call in May, if you are a bit short on your payment in April.
Scam Artist Red Flags
It is already a common scam for thieves to call, claim to be the IRS, demand payment for a bogus tax bill and con the taxpayer into sending payment (usually via a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer). They often use threats to bully the victim into sending money. If you are truly being called by the IRS or an IRS-contracted collector, they will NOT do the following:
- Demand payment without allowing you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Call to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call without first sending a bill in the mail.
- Require payment for taxes in a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or via wire transfer.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
- Threaten to deport you, revoke your license or foreclose on your property.
If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be an IRS official and think it may be a scam, do not send money. Contact the IRS directly if you need assistance in determining the validity of such a call.
If you have questions about whether you actually owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. If you think you are the victim of an IRS-related scam or have an issue with a private debt collector assigned to your account, the IRS urges you to contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline at 800-366-4484 or visit tigta.gov
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