Clark Howard warns against fake private debt collectors

It's tax season and the IRS is using private debt collectors to get payment from people who are long overdue when it comes to paying their tax bill.

The private debt collection program was created by a federal law enacted by Congress in December 2015. The change is sure to bring out even more scam artists who will pose as collectors.

WSB consumer expert Clark Howard says if your debt is turned over to a private collection firm, the IRS will notify you first by sending a letter.

That letter will include the name of the firm you'll be dealing with, along with the firm's contact information. Then the designated firm will send its own letter confirming that it will handle your case.

Clark says the initial contact will not be by phone.

Only four firms are authorized by the IRS to collect unpaid taxes. The firms are CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, New York; Performant of Livermore, California, and Pioneer of Horseheads, New York.

If you get a call or a letter from a different firm, they are not working with the IRS.

Only send payments directly to the IRS. The firms will never ask you to send payment to them. All checks must be made payable to the "United States Treasury."

Howard says, “Anyone calling and demanding immediate payment by prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer – or asking for your credit card or debit card number – that is a fraud. Hang up! "

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