it's almost tax time, and the IRS is making some big changes in how it collects delinquent taxes.
Five on your side's PJ Randhawa finds these new policies could also open the door for con men looking to take your money.
It's the call we've been told to just hang up on.
"The person says they're from the IRS and I was behind on payments. He threatened to take my house," said Matt Marciano, a retired south St. Louis man.
So 'hang up' is exactly what Marciano did. Because for years, he'd always heard the same thing: the IRS will never call you. They will simply send you a letter.
But that's exactly what's changing now.
The IRS has announced it's four private debt collection firms, that will soon be calling you if you're behind on your taxes. The IRS will assign cases to these private collection agencies: Conserve, Pioneer, Performant, CBE Group.
The IRS warns, 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.
The Better Business Bureau explains.
"They're going to be focusing on taxpayers who's debt is older, rather than more recent," said Chris Thetford, vice president of communications at the uis Better Business Bureau.
Private collection agencies will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes.
The new iIRS debt collection calls will begin late this spring, but the agency couldn't give us a specific date.
This change of policy worries some taxpayers like Marciano.
"You're not going to know who's who. it's so easy to be scammed," said Marciano.
But the IRS says there will be ways to tell if the call you're getting is legit.
"The IRS will inform you in writing before the collection agency starts making calls to you," said Thetford.
And their collection agencies will always send you a letter before calling you.
According to their website, the IRS will not assign accounts to private collection agencies involving taxpayers who are:
Under the age of 18
In designated combat zones
Victims of tax-related identity theft
Currently under examination, litigation, criminal investigation or levy
Subject to pending or active offers in compromise
Subject to an installment agreement
Subject to a right of appeal
Classified as innocent spouse cases
In presidentially declared disaster areas and requesting relief from collection
The BBB also indicates a legitimate IRS collection call will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card. Taxpayers will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers on IRS.gov/PayYourTaxBill. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to IRS, not the private collection agency.