Owe Back Taxes? PCAs, Tax Scams, And You


An unexpected call from the IRS trying to collect back taxes is never fun, and recently, it became more likely.  In December 2015, the IRS started to use four private collection agencies (CBE, ConServe, Performant, and Pioneer) to collect on outstanding tax accounts.  The accounts that the PCAs will take over are the older cases that the IRS is no longer pursuing directly.  The issue with a third-party collection agency is the confusion it brings to taxpayers.  Common tax scams will prey on the confusion created by new tax collection methods to collect an easy payday at your expense.

 Common Scammer Tactics

Over the past couple of years, taxpayers have lost millions of dollars to tax scammers.  Here are some general guidelines to spot a scam:

  • The scammers will use aggressive tactics over the phone designed to intimidate the taxpayers.  The scammer may even threaten legal action to frighten you into giving up personal info.
  • A scammer will try to pressure you into making payments over the phone. They will ask for payment from a pre-paid debit card or a wire transfer.
  • Scammers will use false numbers to seem like they are coming from an official agency.  However, these scammers may have your personal information (full name, address) to seem more legitimate.
  • A true IRS agent will never call demanding credit or debit card information.  Furthermore, they will never demand payment without first mailing a bill.
  • If you feel like you are on the receiving end of a scammers phone call hang up and do not give out nor confirm any personal information.  If you feel like you are a victim of a tax scam you can report it at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/

PCA Info

The agency handling your case is still obligated to follow the same federal rules and guidelines as the IRS.  Both the IRS and the PCA that is assigned to your account will send a confirmation letter notifying you of the transition.  Nevertheless, if you do not receive letters from both agencies you should contact the IRS for an update on your case.  To continue working with the IRS, you must send a written document notifying these agencies of your intent.

Moving Forward

The PCA agent will set up a payment plan to move forward and get your payments on track.  Your PCA agent will never coerce or intimidate you into making a payment.  Remember, it is in their best interests to setup a payment plan that works for all parties involved.  The payments you do make should go directly to the IRS or Department of Treasury and never to a third-party.  Remember, if at any time you feel like a red flag is raised, again, report your experience to the IRS fraud line.


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