BBB: Avoiding post-tax season scams

It is often said that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never call you about tax payments. While that remains true for the most part, the IRS has made changes to the way it deals with overdue taxes, and that means third party collection agencies may now call you on the phone.

Like the IRS, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is concerned this change might lead to scammers trying new tax scams to trick people with fraudulent calls. Here is what you need to know about this program that started in April 2017.

A federal law signed in 2015 lets four contractors collect unpaid tax debts for the government. According to the IRS, these are unpaid tax debts that were assessed several years ago and which the agency is no longer trying to collect directly.

All four of the companies contracted by the IRS are BBB Accredited Businesses:

CBE Group

1309 Technology Pkwy

Cedar Falls, IA 50613


200 CrossKeys Office park

Fairport, NY 14450


333 N. Canyons Pkwy

Livermore, CA 94551


325 Daniel Zenker Dr.

Horseheads, NY 14845

There are many ways to tell whether a call you receive about tax debts is an IRS fraud call. According to the IRS, people with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, including letters and phone calls, from the IRS first. The IRS will also always notify taxpayers before sending their accounts to a private collection agency.

Here’s how it will work, and how you can tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a tax scam:

  • The IRS and the private debt collection company will both send a letter to the taxpayer first. If you get a call first and had no idea you owed taxes, be cautious.
  • Private debt collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. These employees must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, like IRS employees, must be courteous and respect taxpayers’ rights. If the caller yells, curses or threatens to have you arrested, it is not a legitimate collector.
  • Private debt collectors will not ask for, and cannot accept, credit card information over the phone. Consumers will pay the IRS directly and will not need to send any money to the private debt collection company.

The IRS adds that private collection firms will only be calling about tax debts that people have had for years and that they have been contacted about previously. Taxpayers can confirm they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year by visiting

BBB reminds all consumers, particularly those who have outstanding tax debts, that the IRS will explain this new process clearly and will make every attempt to work with you to set up payment plans. They will also give taxpayers the chance to question or appeal the amount owed.