BBB Warns Taxpayers to Watch Out for IRS Scam Calls

BBB serving Central Florida warns taxpayers of scammers posing as contracted private collection firms.
April 06, 2017

In a press release on April 4, 2017 the Internal Revenue Service announced that starting this month it will begin sending letters to taxpayers with overdue federal tax accounts that are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies.

Taxpayers that are assigned to a private firm would have been contacted multiple times by the IRS in previous years and continue to have an unpaid tax bill. 

The following is a statement from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen: “The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights.The IRS also urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. In reality, those taxpayers whose accounts are assigned as part of the private collection effort know they have a tax debt.”

The program will begin this week with taxpayers receiving mailings and subsequent phone calls.Taxpayers with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, letters and phone calls, first from the IRS, not private debt collectors. The mailings sent out will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.

Only four private collection agencies are participating: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.

The private firms are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment agreements with taxpayers. But as with cases assigned to IRS employees, any tax payment must be made, either electronically or by check, to the IRS. A payment should never be sent to the private firm or anyone besides the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. Checks should only be made payable to the United States Treasury.

The private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers as only IRS employees are able to take these actions.

Be Wary of Phone Scams

  • Be on the lookout for scammers posing as the the private collection firms.
  • Remember that the private collection firms will only be calling about tax debt that an individual has had for years and has been made aware of by being contacted in the past by the IRS.
  • You will not receive a call from a private collection firm on behalf of the IRS unless you have unpaid tax debts going back several years.
  • If you are unsure if you have an unpaid tax debt you can go to to check your account balance If the account shows a zero balance you would not typically be contacted by the IRS or a private firm.
  • Unexpected and threatening calls are a warning sign.

Things the IRS or Its Contractors Will NOT Do

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes, and if a case is assigned to a PCA, both the IRS and the authorized collection agency will send the taxpayer a letter. Payment will always be to the United States Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.