In a move that adds uncertainty as to whether a caller is a scammer or not, this month the IRS is now using private debt collection agencies to collect past due taxes.
In the past, scammers have posed as the IRS in order to get identifying information or money. I had been able to reassure clients that the IRS would never harass consumers over the phone. However, under this new rule, private debt collectors may contact taxpayers by phone, which may make it more difficult to determine whether the caller is a scammer or not.
The IRS will notify taxpayers by mail if it is turning their case over to a private debt collector. In addition, the debt collector is required to send a written notice once it receives the taxpayer’s information. The collection agencies are required to abide by debt collection laws, which prevent debt collectors from harassing consumers.
To avoid scams, remember that private collection agencies will only ask for payments to be made online at IRS.gov or by check. Checks should be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency. The collection agency will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit or gift card.
For more information about this new program, click. here.