As you may have heard, the IRS began using 3rd party debt collectors earlier this year. They have laid out strict procedures that the debt collectors must follow.
Scammers adapt quickly and are now altering their messaging to reflect these new procedures. They are now telling potential victims that two certified letters have already been sent and that unless they make immediate payment through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) they will be arrested. This “payment” always involves a prepaid card of some sort.
How to spot a scam:
- The caller makes initial contact by phone. The IRS will only call taxpayers that it has contacted in writing numerous times in the past several years and received no response.
- The caller demands immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- The caller asks for the payment to be made to a third party. All payments should be made directly to the US Treasury, NOT the debt collector or any other agency.
- The caller demands that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- The caller threatens to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested. Debt collectors are prohibited from threatening arrest.
- Any contact via email, text messages or social media is a scam. The IRS does NOT use these methods to discuss personal tax issues.
Currently, the IRS has only contracted four agencies to collect debt. These agencies are: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, IA, Conserve of Fairport, NY, Performant of Livermore, CA and Pioneer of Horseheads, NY. If you are being contacted by a “collector” not from one these agencies, the call is definitely a scam.
Always call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to verify that a collection attempt is legitimate.
The IRS recommends the following:
If you don’t owe taxes and have no reason to think you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. You can use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call 800-366-4484.
- To report the call to the Federal Trade Commission, use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- If you feel you’ve been mistreated, file a complaint Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
If you owe taxes or think you do:
- View your tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount you owe and review your payment options.
- Call the number on the billing notice, or call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.
- If you owe less than $50,000, you can go online at IRS.gov or download Form 9465 and apply for a monthly payment plan for up to 72 months.
- In some cases, the IRS will accept less than owed, known as Offer in Compromise. To find out if you’re eligible, go to: https://irs.treasury.gov/oic_pre_qualifier/