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Tax Scams are on the Rise – Beware of Fake IRS Calls


You get a call from someone claiming to be a federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent and they are seeking immediate payment of taxes they claim you owe. The phony agents use intimidation tactics such as threats of arrest, liens on property, deportation, or driver’s license revocation to scare consumers into making payments or disclosing personal information. The imposters often have just enough personal information to convince a taxpayer they are legitimate.

A variation on this scam involves scam artists saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

Authorities believe that many of these phony calls originate in India and other foreign countries.  Due to advances in technology, consumers may see official looking numbers on their Caller ID and the callers may provide badge numbers or other official sounding identification.

Avoid It:
According to the IRS, it will NEVER:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment;
  • Demand that you pay taxes without allowing you to question or challenge the amount you may owe;
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way, such as with a wire transfer or prepaid money card;
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers, or other personal information over the phone; or
  • Threaten you with arrest, liens, deportation or license revocation.

Debt Collectors: The IRS is authorized to utilize private debt collectors to pursue outstanding inactive tax receivables.  Before an IRS-approved private debt collector may contact you, you will first receive a letter from the IRS telling you that your account has been turned over to a specific collection agency, and a second letter from that collection agency advising you of the amount due and providing a taxpayer identification unique to you. Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit, iTunes or gift card.

Private Collection Agencies Selected:
The IRS will assign cases to these private collection agencies:

  • CBE
    P.O. Box 2217
    Waterloo, IA 50704
  • ConServe
    P.O. Box 307
    Fairport, NY 14450-0307
  • Performant
    P.O. Box 9045
    Pleasanton CA 94566-9045
  • Pioneer
    PO Box 500
    Horseheads, NY 14845

If you do not wish to work with the assigned private collection agency to settle your overdue tax account, you must submit a request in writing to the private collection agency.  To learn more about the new private collection program, click here.

To make a complaint about a private collection agency or report misconduct by its employee, call the TIGTA hotline at 800-366-4484 or visit

The very best thing you can do if you receive one of these calls, or a similarly threatening email, is to immediately hang up the phone or delete the email message without responding. If you are concerned that you may owe back taxes you can go to to check your account balance, or call the IRS directly at 800-829-1010.