The IRS announced that it’s hired four debt collection agencies to round up outstanding payments from taxpayers who have been contacted numerous times and have not paid. The goal of the debt collection program is to drastically reduce debt, but many consumer advocates worry that this roll out will lead to confusion and be an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers.
Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of “Swiped” says “scammers will seize this opportunity to add to the countless IRS imposter scams and pretend to be private debt collectors. Fraudsters prey on people being desperate to fix their tax issue and will use every tactic in the book to force them to make an immediate payment.”
Here are Levin’s tips to avoid getting got by these scammer debt collectors:
- If you receive a call from a debt collector pretending to be working on behalf of the IRS and have not received an initial official notice via mail, hang up. The IRS will always contact you through snail mail and will never call, email or text.
- If the caller harasses you with aggressive language and demands payment upfront or threatens jail time, hang up.
- Don’t give into being pressured to pay immediately. Debt collectors will always offer a payment plan and will not ask you to pay by pre-paid debit card, wire transfers or gift card.
- Never give out your credit or debit card information over the phone.
- Never authenticate yourself to anyone who calls you on the phone. Never give out your social security number or personal information. Your SS# is the skeleton key to your life and will make you a target for other types of identity theft, including tax, medical, criminal and financial.
- If you receive a call that you suspect is a scam call, hang up and notify the FTC.