Is that really the IRS knocking at your door?

Scams continue to swirl around con artists posing as IRS agents or other authority figures contacting taxpayers by phone or email and demanding money. But what if someone shows up at your door?

Under a new program, the IRS will begin in April using private collection of certain overdue federal tax payments. This opens a new door for scammers to try to intimidate taxpayers out of their money, so the IRS has created a new page on its website to help citizens know if they are being visited by legitimate tax collectors.

Generally, the IRS initiates contact with taxpayers through regular mail sent via the U.S. Postal Service. However, there are some circumstances in which representatives of the IRS will make a personal visit – sometimes unannounced – to a home or business.

These visits typically fall into three categories:

  • Collection – IRS revenue officers will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayers home or business when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill or to secure a delinquent tax return or employment tax payment. These officers will not demand that a taxpayer make an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • Audit – IRS agents will sometimes visit taxpayers who are being audited. IRS employees conducting the audit may call to set up an appointment, but not without having first notified them by mail. After mailing an initial appointment letter, an auditor may call to confirm and discuss items pertaining to the scheduled audit.
  • Criminal investigation – IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents who will not demand any sort of payment. Criminal investigators also carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.

If you should be visited by a person claiming to work for the IRS, ask to see identification and credentials. An IRS representative will always provide two forms of official credentials, a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card, which is a government-wide standard form of identification for federal employees and contractors.

Before a representative from a private collection agency shows up at your door, the IRS will give taxpayers and their representatives written notice that the accounts are being transferred to the collection agency. The agency will then send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the transfer, the IRS website states.

Representatives of private collection agencies working for the IRS also should provide identification and will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit, iTunes or gift card. Taxpayers will be advised on electronic payment options available through IRS.gov. Again, checks should be payable only to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS – not the private collection agency.

The four private collection agencies that have contracted with the IRS are:

  • CBE
    P.O. Box 2217
    Waterloo, IA 50704
    1-800-910-5837
  • ConServe
    P.O. Box 307
    Fairport, NY 14450-0307
    1-844-853-4875
  • Performant
    P.O. Box 9045
    Pleasanton CA 94566-9045
    1-844-807-9367
  • Pioneer
    P.O. Box 500
    Horseheads, NY 14845
    1-800-448-3531

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Sources: IRS.gov, checkpoint.riag.com

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