For years we’ve been warning you about phony IRS agents who call, trying to convince you that you owe back taxes. To help you spot these scammers, we told you that the IRS won’t contact you by phone.
But starting this month, Congress is requiring the IRS to hire private debt collectors. Four legitimate debt collection companies will be contacting taxpayers by phone.
So how can you tell if the person on the phone is an IRS scammer, or someone who really is calling on behalf of the U.S. Government? Here are some tips:
- Before your debt is turned over to a private debt collector, the IRS will send you multiple letters. Unless there is a problem with your mail delivery, you should receive them before a private debt collector calls. If you haven’t, the person on the line is probably a scammer.
- If the caller threatens you with a lawsuit, arrest, or physical harm, or demands immediate payment over the phone, it’s a scammer.
- If the initial contact with you about your alleged debt is by text, email, or social media, it’s a scammer.
- A debt collector working for the government will require your payment to be made at IRS.gov, or via a check made out to the U.S. Treasury that is mailed directly to the IRS. If they want you to pay your debt any other way, including prepaid debit, iTunes or gift cards, it’s a scammer.