Palisades Senior Alliance Learns the IRS Hires Private Collection Agencies

By Rosemary Kelly
Special to the Palisades News

An expert with the Bet Tzedek Tax Clinic warned members of the Palisades Senior Alliance on June 26 that they need to be vigilant in the face of ongoing tax-related scams.

This is especially important now because the IRS has begun private collection of certain overdue federal tax debts this summer, according to Anna Barsegyan of Bet Tzedek, a nonprofit legal aid clinic that provides free legal services to low-income individuals.

According to Barsegyan, the IRS has selected four private contractors to implement the new program: Conserve, Pioneer, Performant and CBE Group. These companies will deal with older tax debts and debts that the IRS is no longer actively seeking.

This new method of private debt collection and collecting tax debts will make it more difficult to detect phone scams, Barsegyan warned. “Taxpayers need to be vigilant.”

The taxpayer and his or her representative will receive a written notice that the taxpayer’s account is being transferred to a private debt collection agency. The agency will then send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer.

How will you know if a legitimate private debt collector is calling?

Barsegyan explained that these agencies will identify themselves as IRS contractors collecting taxes. These agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card. The taxpayer will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers, and that checks can be sent and made payable to the “U.S. Treasury” and sent directly to the IRS, not to the private collection agency. The IRS will not assign accounts to private collection agencies in the following situations:

  • Taxpayer is deceased
  • Taxpayer is under the age of 18
  • Taxpayer is in a designated combat zone
  • Taxpayer is a victim of tax-related identity theft
  • Taxpayer is currently under examination, litigation, criminal investigation or levy
  • There is a pending or active offer in compromise
  • Taxpayer has entered into an installment agreement
  • Case in Appeals
  • Innocent spouse cases

Barsegyan also spoke about the various tax scams that are out there. These include callers who claim to be IRS employees who: 1.) may provide fake name and IRS badges; 2.) may alter Caller ID to make it look like it is the IRS calling; and 3.) may threaten criminal prosecution or imprisonment if you do not pay.

Do not make any payments over the phone and always check with your accountant or a trusted relative before giving money or writing a check. If threatened with criminal prosecution, call the police.

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