Conserve is Calling Me About an IRS Debt?
If you have received a call from ConServe about an IRS debt, you are probably surprised and skeptical. You should be, with the rampant IRS phone scams of recent years. The IRS has warned countless times to never trust a call about taxes because they never call about taxes. Only scammers call about taxes. If ConServe is calling about an IRS debt, however, the call may be legit starting in 2017.
Who is ConServe?
Continental Service Group, Inc. d/b/a ConServe is a debt collection agency in New York. ConServe’s biggest clients to date have been colleges and universities. They chase student loan debt. Now they are coming after taxpayers, who may or may not also owe student loan debt as well. ConServe employs almost 800 people and this number is expected to grow drastically to meet the demands of a new contract to collect back tax debts for the IRS.
According to the Buffalo (NY) Business Journal:
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced that ConServe and Pioneer Credit Recovery in Wyoming County were each awarded federal contracts to collect unpaid taxes for the Internal Revenue Service. Schumer said the contracts are expected to generate 600 new jobs…”
That’s right. The IRS is now outsourcing tax collections to private debt collection companies. This is the result of the FAST Act, about which ConServe is not being entirely honest. A press release put out by ConServe itself had this to say about its part in the FAST Act:
With a 5-year horizon, the IRS private collection agency contracts will be the sole vehicle to fund the legislation.
There are other funding provisions in the FAST Act bill and the last time the IRS tried outsourcing tax collections to private collection agencies, it lost money. Our government at work. The IRS normally brings in $4 for every $1 put into its budget. But the private collectors don’t appear to be as effective as their government counterparts. From Oct. 2017 to Sept. 2018, the program’s most profitable 12 months, collection companies Pioneer Credit Recovery, ConServe Debt Recovery, Performant Recovery, and CBE Group collected just $2.64 for every $1 the government spent on the program.
Be on the lookout for calls about taxes from these other companies:
- Performant, authorized IRS debt collector
- CBE Group, authorized IRS debt collector
- Pioneer Recovery, authorized IRS debt collector
Can You Hide or Avoid ConServe’s Calls About IRS Taxes?
If you owe taxes and can pay them, you should. Whether or not you should trust a call out of the blue about IRS taxes is a different matter. And good luck hiding from them by changing your phone number. As this New York Times article on student debt collection, and ConServe, point out “they will find you.”
Action! Steps if ConServe Called about IRS Taxes
First, beware of scams. DO NOT give your social security number or payment info of any kind over the phone. If you have a CPA, have filed all your tax returns and this is a surprise, start there. If this is a surprise and you don’t know what to do, you might talk to a tax relief company. They can and should verify, for free, if you owe back taxes to the IRS, and advise on next steps.
1) The IRS must send you a letter to your last known address, notifying that your past due account is now with a private collection agency, in this case, ConServe.
2) ConServe must mail you a collections letter to the same address, notifying you ConServe is now collecting on your IRS account.
3) If your last known address is out of date and you don’t receive mail from the IRS or ConServe, you are still considered “legally notified” and ConServe may proceed with collections.
4) ConServe will begin calling you regarding your IRS taxes, and will likely send you further demands for payment in the mail to your last known and any newly discovered addresses.