St. Louis, Mo., Apr. 19, 2017 –Starting this month, the Internal Revenue Service will begin sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies.
The only four private groups are participating in this program are 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 new program—authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress in December 2015— enables these designated contractors to collect unpaid tax debts on the government’s behalf. Taxpayers being assigned to a private firm would have had multiple contacts from the IRS in previous years and still have an unpaid tax bill.
Scammers may take advantage of this change in procedure by launching a new wave of phone scams. Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds taxpayers to be alert for scammers posing as private collection firms.
“Scammers might use this program as a cover to trick people into sending money,” said Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO. “The consumers included in the private collection program typically already know they have a tax issue. If you get a call from someone saying they’re from one of these groups and you’ve paid your taxes, that’s a sure sign of a scam.”
If taxpayers are unsure if they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year – which is what the private collection firms will handle – they can go to IRS.gov and check their account balance: www.irs.gov/balancedue. If the account balance says zero, that means nothing is due, and you typically wouldn’t be getting a contact from the IRS or the private firm.
Here are a few tips to protect yourself from IRS debt collection scams:
For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov.
To learn more about substandard business practices in your area, keep up-to-date with BBB’s most recent press releases:
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