By Michael Aston, E.A.
Alhambra Tax Center
Multiple times I have stated that if you get a threatening telephone call claiming you owe money -- just hang up. This advice still applies today.
Well … guess what?
For those people who continually ignore those IRS letters -- the IRS is assigning your account to a collection agency.
During April, the IRS started to use private collection agencies:
· Performant, CA
· CBE Group, IA
· Conserve, NY
· Pioneer, NY
The IRS will send a final letter stating your account has been assigned to a private collection agency. The collection agency will then send a letter stating they’re taking over your account. And then … you will most likely get a telephone call.
The key to understanding if your telephone call is a scam, or an authorized IRS collection agency: all payments must be made electronically through the IRS website or by check made payable to the United States Treasury.
Here are some of the scam tactics. The scammers will often use:
· Call to demand immediate payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
· Threaten to immediately bring in local police to have the taxpayer arrested.
· Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
· Ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone.
As quoted by the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen: “Unexpected and threatening calls out of the blue from someone saying they’re representing the IRS to collect a tax debt is a warning sign people should watch for.”
The IRS offers a service whereas people can create an account with the IRS and verify if any taxes are owed. (And the State offers the same service.)
Remember that all payments must be sent directly to the IRS. If the payment is going to a third party -- then it’s most likely a scam.
If you have any questions, please contact the IRS or your tax preparer.