Since 2004 the IRS and Senate have been pushing new laws for approval that would allow them to outsource unpaid tax bills to private (non-government) collection agencies. In spite of resistance to the plan by the House of Representatives, it appears that the rules have been quietly approved by the Bush administration. (registration required on that last link)
In two weeks, the IRS will turn over some 12,000 names to the first three collection agencies with whom they have contracted. Approximately ten agencies in total are expected to be IRS approved by the beginning of 2008 - and they will be given at least 350,000 names.
Why is this a security related article? Because you know that the scammers and phishers will start coming out of the foul cesspools of the dark side of the Internet to try and spoof people into thinking they owe the IRS money, and of course they will make it look attractive to the victim by saying that they can reduce the tax-bill if said victim agrees to send a check or credit card payment "right-now" to the con artist. Meanwhile - if the victim does owe back-taxes to the IRS - they will still be liable to the IRS and authorized collection agencies. Being conned does not lessen ones legal obligation to pay the correct authority.
You should know the following facts to protect yourself from scammers while staying on the legal side of the real collection agencies:
1) The approved agencies are NOT allowed to communicate with you via the Internet. No email in other words. This means that ALL emails that purport to be IRS collection attempts are automatically phishing spam and should be summarily ignored and deleted.
2) The collection agencies may not ask you to send payment directly to them. Payments to satisfy in part or whole any back taxes owed will ALWAYS be sent directly to the United States Treasury. The authorized collection agencies are not allowed to collect funds directly, they can only pester the heck out of you until you pay.
3) The list of authorized collection agencies in 2006 (for now, will expand in 2007~08):
- Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson of Austin, Texas
- Pioneer Credit Recovery of Arcade, New York (a division of the SLM Corporation)
- CBE Group of Waterloo in Iowa
Hope this helps someone . . .