If you have fallen behind on your bills, you may already know the sinking feeling when the phone rings and creditors are on the other end, reminding you of your delinquency. You may try to be polite as you put them off or make promises you can't keep, but it's not always easy, especially when they threaten to make your situation even worse than it is.
Whether you owe for maxed-out credit cards, medical bills, car payments or a mortgage for your home in Texas, you probably feel like you're on the losing end of every call from a creditor. However, if you have received calls about your overdue taxes, you may be especially concerned.
Collectors for the government
The IRS can take steps to collect its debt that other creditors may not be able to by law. However, those collecting for the IRS still have certain rules they must follow, and it behooves you to know those rules to avoid falling victim to a scam. Yes, it is sad to know that there are people out there who will take advantage of those who are struggling financially and are intimidated by their creditors.
Recently, the IRS has hired four debt collection agencies to assist them in collecting back taxes. Those agencies are:
While authorized to contact you about your tax debt, they will not do so until after you have received notice from the IRS, informing you which agency will be calling you.
Legitimate collector or fraudster?
You would think agencies hired by the IRS would understand the limits to which they may go in collecting a debt; however, there are reports of these agencies using unethical or illegal tactics to coerce people into paying, even if those taxpayers are in dire financial straits. You can contact the Treasury Inspector General regarding any misconduct from these collectors. For example, the collector may pressure you to use funds from the following:
- Your 401(k)
- A second mortgage
- Credit cards
Using these methods to pay back taxes has the potential to make an already bad financial situation even worse. Additionally, such tactics make it difficult for consumers to recognize when someone is scamming them. Fraudsters also use such high-pressure schemes to get your money. However, it may be helpful to know that a legitimate IRS collector will never threaten you with prison, deportation or license suspension and will only accept payment in these forms:
- Checks payable to the U.S. Treasury
- Funds sent directly to the IRS
- Payment online through IRS.com
The IRS or its collectors will never request payment through gift cards or prepaid debit cards. A caller who tells you to pay this way is trying to defraud you.
Another option is to make the calls from creditors stop altogether. Seeking legal advice about bankruptcy as an alternative to foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment and tax levies may be the first step to a more positive future.