In a move that could be confusing to seniors who are vulnerable to scams, the IRS may now contract with private debt collectors to collect certain debts.
Historically, scammers have posed as the IRS to target seniors and other vulnerable adults to retrieve identifying information or payment. Until now, tax professionals have been able to reassure clients that the IRS would never contact taxpayers over the phone. However, under this new rule, private debt collectors are allowed to contact taxpayers by phone, which may make it more difficult to determine whether a scammer is targeting the taxpayer.
The IRS has contracted with four debt collection companies:
· Conserve, 200 CrossKeys Office Park, Fairport, NY 14450
· Pioneer, 325 Daniel Zenker Dr, Horseheads, NY 14845
· Performant, 333 N Canyons Pkwy, Livermore, CA 94551
· CBE Group, 1309 Technology Pkwy, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
The IRS will notify taxpayers by mail if it is turning their case over to a private debt collector, and the debt collector is required to send a written notice once it receives the taxpayer’s information. In addition, 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.
For more information about the new program, click here.