2017 marks the implementations of some major revisions to the IRS code on “collections” that pave the way for real third party debt collectors to call and say you owe taxes.
So how do you tell the difference?
Bogus IRS callers have targeted hundreds of thousands of people, most sniffing out the scam.
But more than 5,500 and counting have fallen victim, losing a combined $36 million dollars. This total could certainly be higher.
“The scam works, people do pay them,” said Tax Attorney Fred Pfeil with SC Legal Services. He said he gets calls all the time from clients worried they will be taken to jail.
Pfeil is concerned the scam is only becoming more believable because of new guidelines that allow the IRS to forward delinquent tax payer information to private debt collectors.
“It’s going to open up people to more scams because scammers are always on the forefront. They are always ahead of these rules and regulations,” said Pfeil.
The IRS has already awarded contracts to 4 agencies: Conserve, Pioneer, Performant, and CBE Group. Beware, those names are public, so scammers may try to impersonate them.
“The best way to tell the difference is to get the information from the person calling, hang up and do research and try to find a number independently and if that number matches up then it’s legitimate.”
Before you get any calls, the IRS will send you a letter and so will the debt collection company. But they are only required to send those to your last known address, so it’s important to keep that up to date.
And don’t be fooled, scammers are also sending bogus tax letters. If you have any questions about letters or calls contact the IRS.
And heed the red flags: The real IRS contracted tax collectors cannot threaten jail time, garnish your wages, or accept payment over the phone.