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The IRS is now using private debt collectors

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Do you have a debt with the IRS that’s more than two years old? If so, you might be getting a letter from the IRS about your account being transferred to a private debt collector. This new program only applies to taxpayers who have had an IRS debt for years, and who were previously contacted about it by the IRS. Here’s how it will work – and how to spot a scam.

If your debt is put into this program, the IRS says you will get two letters. The first letter will come from the IRS and will say which private debt collection company your account has been assigned to. The companies are: CBE, ConServe, Perfomant, or Pioneer. The second letter will come from the private debt collection company assigned to your account. Both letters will include the tax amount owed, the name of the private debt collection company assigned, and a taxpayer authentication number that is unique to you.

But here’s how you can tell you’re dealing with the actual debt collector, not a scammer.

  • The private debt collectors working with the IRS will never ask you to pay them directly. Instead, they’ll tell you to pay electronically at, or send a check, made out to the US Treasury, directly to the IRS. Anyone who says they’re collecting for the IRS and asks you to make a payment over the phone is a scammer.  Whether they’re asking you to pay by credit or debit card, electronic check, wiring money, or a prepaid or gift card - don’t do it.  
  • These debt collectors will never use robocalls or pre-recorded messages. You’ll always speak with a live operator.
  • They’ll always use the authentication number that was in your letters.

Not sure you owe the IRS money? Ask the collector for a written “validation notice,” which says what you owe and to whom. You also can go to to check your account balance. If your account balance says zero, you don’t owe money and should not be getting calls.

To learn more about this new process, check out the IRS’s site. And remember: all debt collectors have to follow the law.  Know your rights, and tell the FTC if you spot a problem.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Why am i getting these emails

Debra--don't know why, but if you think about the source and read the info from the FTC, you'll see how beneficial it always is for everyone wanting to stay abreast of the many avenues of the FTC. Believe me, you will be glad you received this first bit of knowledge from the FTC.

Thank you for this important information. I posted it on my facebook page that gets many views since I am a public librarian.

Luis, Thank you for helping us inform people.  Have you seen our page with information for Librarians?

Tax payer please read this information.

Great article and very important information for consumers. With the IRS going down this road, it makes conditions ripe for scammers to set up shot and rip people off. Nice job FTC!

send the usurperdent to collection.

Thanks for this valid information and keeping the public informed what i taking place in this society. Thanks!!!

I'm posting on my FB page because we try hard to warn people about identity theft scams. I'm a Risk Management Specialist.

Oops, maybe not. I don't see link to do that. If I can find one, I will post, meanwhile, there's always word of mouth. Thanks for the heads up. FTC. I've been a near vicitm of IRS scams and your information is the life saver.

You can follow the FTC on Facebook at -- most of our blog posts are added there (including this one).

No, nice job Republican Congress and President who constantly pawn our government to profiteers

This was done by and DURING the OBAMA administration. Obama also hired 3,000 MORE IRS collection agents to go after taxpayers!

Congress shoved this down the IRS' throat. They have not funded the IRS adequately therefore delinquent accounts do not get worked due to lack of personnel. This was tried around 7/8 years ago and it failed. One of the companies is in Iowa, home to Sen. Grassley, who pushed this hard. What a coincidence. If you owe, call the IRS using the number from your notice. They are required to set up an installment agreement. If you can't make the calculated minimum payment, you will be transferred to an IRS ACS unit that will take your financial info and compute a doable payment amount. This is the worst time to try this with the level of identity theft going on. Thank you, Congress.

I don't see an anything hope u can help us

I'm a vet..I received a letter 1 yrs.ago.collection agency in Mississippi. Spousal injured support. I investaged to see where my federal tax went. VA. Hospital. Medical bill. $950.I called IRS.told them .VA.said thy did not put me in collection .bill yr.2010. Found out. Paypal did that crap. I do not .ever been to Mississippi. Not ever married.

This is great information. There are so many scammers out there that have claimed to be debt collectors for the IRS. Seniors are the the worst hit. Good to know that they will be contacted by letter.

Refunds may be offset under TOP (Treasury Offset Program). See www. irs. gov/ taxtopics/ tc203. html for information. IRS notice will indicate what agency your refund was sent to. IRS is required by law to send refund to agency if notified.

I got a call on my cell phone saying that the IRS was coming to lock me up because I owe back taxes. I had a small stroke right after getting this call. Note I never received a letter from the IRS about back taxes due. Is this a legal action by the IRS and I am a senior citizen who has a son with dementia due to have strokes in all sections of his brain including the brain stem and his kidneys. I am now his part time caregiver due to my health with RA. I have a mother who has had strokes and is 88 years old. Is this a legal practice done by the US Government (IRS Dept.)???

The real IRS will not call you and threaten to lock you up because you owe taxes. If somebody threatens you like that, they are probably IRS imposters.

If the IRS needs to contact you, they’ll send you a letter. The IRS won’t demand personal information or credit card or Social Security numbers over the phone. The IRS won’t threaten to arrest or sue you, or demand that you pay right away.

If you need to talk to the IRS, call them at 1-800-829-1040

Thanks Bridget Small for getting back to me and easing my mind. I will keep the phone number given on hand if I get this call again and I will keep the incoming phone number so I can give it to the IRS agent.

I incurred a tax of $90000 (rounded) billed in 2006--income tax, not trust funds). Due to my age and low social security income the IRS has treated me an not collectable. The listed lien prevents me from attempting to buy and flip homes in disrepair and a company wants to charge me a fee to "handle" the IRS. But an accounting friend told me the tax bill expires at the end of 10 years. I'm puzzled. Does such a tax expire? I've paid nothing on it for more than 10 years due to the inability to pay anything. I'd appreciate good advice. Thanks. --Dutch

We can't give tax advice. You could look on the IRS website for information, or contact the IRS or talk with a tax professional.

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