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Debt collectors calling to collect taxes for IRS

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It may sound like a scam but real debt collectors working with the IRS will be calling people who owe back taxes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It may sound like a scam but real debt collectors working with the IRS will be calling people who owe back taxes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Peggy Driver got a call from a guy who said he was from the IRS but it was a scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Peggy Driver got a call from a guy who said he was from the IRS but it was a scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The IRS claims targeted taxpayers will get letters from the agency and the debt collector first before the phone calls are made. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The IRS claims targeted taxpayers will get letters from the agency and the debt collector first before the phone calls are made. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Peggy Driver got a phone call recently that really concerned her.

“The guy said he was from the IRS and I was a little puzzled," Driver said.

Driver was puzzled because she's always filed her taxes and she just received her refund from the IRS.

Still, a voicemail left on her phone really got her attention.

“This is Officer Steve Johnson and I am calling you from the Investigative Department of the Internal Revenue Service,” the message said. 

Driver said the voicemail was kind of intimidating and it concerned her.

"So, I was kind of flip-flopping in my mind and then decided that there is something wrong with this," Driver said.

Driver was right.

The guy on the other end was a scammer and if she would have called him back, she could have been tricked into sending money. But, just to make sure, Driver called the IRS' toll-free number.

“The woman that I spoke to said yes, it was a scam, that normally the IRS does not call you," Driver said.

But that little rule is being tweaked and you just might be getting a call after all if you really do owe back taxes.

According to the IRS' website, they're implementing a new "Private Debt Collection Program.” The agency says “…taxpayers with overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private sector collection agencies.”

It goes on to say that those debt collectors will call you, and that “…calls they (taxpayers) may receive are legitimate.”

Driver and others say that's concerning and confusing.

“How do you know that the person who is calling you or is on the other end of the phone claiming to be representing the IRS is actually doing that," she said.

The IRS claims targeted taxpayers will get letters from the agency and the debt collector first before the phone calls are made.

Still, not everyone is warm to the new program.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Driver said.

Always remember, the IRS will never ask you to wire money or send money using some kind of card. They just don’t work that way. 

And as for those legitimate debt collectors calling on behalf of the IRS, the agency says it affects a small number of people who the IRS says is well aware that they owe back taxes.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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