Before a collection agency calls you, both the IRS and the collection agency will contact you by mail first, so if you get a call first and didn't know you owed taxes, be cautious.
Those calls and collection efforts are legitimate. The IRS will also always notify taxpayers before sending their accounts to a private collection agency.
A federal law signed in 2015 lets four contractors collect unpaid tax debts for the government. These agencies are CBE Group in Cedar Falls, I.A., Conserve in Fairport, N.Y., Performant in Livermore, C.A., and Pioneer in Horseheads, N.Y. All debt payments are made directly to the IRS, not the collection agencies themselves. If a caller uses profanity, shouts, or threatens a taxpayer with an arrest for nonpayment, this caller is probably a scammer, and the recipient is advised to hang up immediately. Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card, a practice used by current tax scammers. The collection companies employ aggressive collection tactics that can be borderline abusive. If a caller asks for payment over the phone, it is nearly certainly a scam and the call recipient is advised to hang up immediately.
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" You can ask to have your account transferred back to the IRS".
Although this new strategy is said to be put in place to help alleviate stress and prevent harassment that taxpayers have dealt with in the past, Phil Liberatore http://www.liberatorecpa.com/, believes, "this change may be an attempt to improve the IRS's budget, but it comes at further costs to the tax payers".