IRS Announces Use of Private Debt Collectors

Yes, it is true! The Internal Revenue Service is now working with private debt collection agencies to recover unpaid tax debts. The new program, authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress in 2016, will allow one of the designated collection agencies to collect tax debt from those who owe overdue federal taxes. The four contracted agencies are CBE Group of Waterloo, IA; ConServe of Fairport, NY; Performant of Pleasanton, CA; and Pioneer of Horseheads, NY.

Without a doubt, scammers will attempt to use this new service as another way to fraudulently get your money and your personal identifying information. It is very important you know how the new program works and what the red flags are, as you continue to remain vigilant against con-artists.

How it works:

  • The IRS will mail you a letter informing you that your long overdue federal tax account has been turned over to a private debt collecting agency. The letter will provide the name of the company and contact information.
  • You will receive a letter from that collection agency confirming the account transfer.
  • You will receive a follow-up phone call to discuss payment options with you.

What you should know:

  • The IRS will never use a phone call to threaten to arrest you, take out a warrant on you, or deport you if you do not pay.
  • The ONLY way you can pay your tax debt is electronically or by check, payable to the United States Treasury.
  • The IRS does not collect taxes on iTunes cards, gift cards or wire transfers such as Western Union or Moneygram.

What you should do:

  • Hang up immediately if you receive a threatening, aggressive phone call.
  • If you are unsure if you owe federal taxes, look up your account at
  • To make a complaint about a private collection agency, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline at (800) 366-4484
  • If you have fallen victim to this scam, call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line at (239) 258-3292.