How to Spot a Scammer After IRS Changes 'No Call' Policy
For years, the IRS has said they'll never call and ask for for money over the phone. This spring, they'll start doing just that for people who owe federal tax debts.
"We always said they'll never call you. Well they are, and it doesn't even have to be the IRS. It's this agency that the agency has employed to contact you," said Jim Temmer, President of BBB Serving Wisconsin.
The IRS is changing the way they collect debt by starting a new debt collection program. Soon, anyone owing money to the IRS could receive a phone call from a legitimate debt collection agency.
The program will allow the IRS to hand over the collection process to private companies.
How can you tell the difference between a scammer, and the companies hired by the IRS?
You should have some idea that you owe money before receiving a phone call.
Before calling, the IRS will send you a letter explaining they are handing the debt over to a collection agency.
You should also get a second letter from the collection agency notifying you of the change.
The IRS is only partnering with four collection agencies. You can find out more about those agencies at www.irs.gov/
If you do receive a call, a legitimate debt collector will not threaten arrest, or ask for payment right away.
"They will not be threatening you with immediate arrest or immediate seizure of your property. A big red flag if it's a scam they can use abusive language, they can be very humiliating, they can be very demanding. If it's an actual legitimate thing from the IRS, they will not treat you that way," said Temmer.
If you're still unsure, or haven't received a letter, ask the agency on the phone to send you written confirmation.
"If you get a phone call saying you owe them money, it is your right to ask for a written verification of that debt. So, if it's this IRS one or anyone else saying you owe them money over the phone say, 'please send me a written confirmation, a written verification of my debt,' and if it's legitimate, they'll do it," said Temmer.
The Better Business Bureau says you need to take these steps in order not to get scammed -- which could now happen more easily.
"We think that many more scammers will try -- go back to the old faithful -- IRS phone scam now because we know and they know that we're telling people they can call you; so, be aware. There are going to be a lot of IRS phone calls being made by scammers. And remember those two things: they should have sent you a letter ahead of time and you can always ask for verification on the back end," said Temmer.
Also, don't trust your caller id. Scammers can change it to look like the IRS, a collection agency or the police are calling you.