Scams

Watch Out for Phony IRS Collectors

As Uncle Sam cracks down on overdue taxes, scammers are moving to cash in.

An IRS program to use private debt collectors to recoup back taxes on some accounts has attracted scammers looking to cash in. The IRS began turning over some 140,000 seriously delinquent accounts to collectors in April. This summer, consumers should be especially wary of callers claiming to represent the IRS.

Phone scams are among the most common forms of tax fraud, taking the number-two spot (behind e-mail and website scams that seek to steal personal data) on the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” list for 2017. The IRS’s first contact with taxpayers is never a phone call, and the same goes for collectors employed by the IRS. The agency and the assigned debt collector must each send a letter informing you of an account transfer before the debt collector may contact you by phone.

Currently, the IRS has contracts with only four collection agencies: CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery. If you haven’t received a letter, a call is a red flag. Ask which company the caller represents and get a name and contact number so you can follow up with the IRS before divulging any information. Hang up if you’re badgered about paying on the spot. Payments are not made to the debt collector but to the U.S. Treasury, by check or electronically on the IRS website.

Quiz: Is Your Identity at Risk?

Most Popular

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How
social security

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How

It’s always smart to maximize your Social Security benefits, and if you are divorced, one way to do that might be to take them based on your ex’s earn…
May 13, 2021
Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week
Coronavirus and Your Money

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week

The IRS will start issuing automatic refunds in mid-May to people eligible for the unemployment benefit tax exemption.
May 14, 2021
18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores
spending

18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores

These discount retailers stock plenty of bargains, but some of the merchandise isn’t worth the buck.
May 14, 2021

Recommended

Taxes on Unemployment Benefits: A State-by-State Guide
state tax

Taxes on Unemployment Benefits: A State-by-State Guide

Don't be surprised by an unexpected state tax bill on your unemployment benefits. Know where unemployment compensation is taxable and where it isn't.
May 13, 2021
33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes
retirement

33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes

Even with the federal exemption from death taxes raised, retirees should pay more attention to estate taxes and inheritance taxes levied by states.
May 13, 2021
13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in these 13 states, your Social Security benefits are subject to a state tax. That's on…
May 11, 2021
The 10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Military Retirees
retirement

The 10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Military Retirees

Unfortunately, some states aren't very generous when it comes to helping retired veterans at tax time.
May 11, 2021