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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Q. I received a notice from the IRS that I owe them for back taxes.  What should I do?

A. You need to address the debt you have with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by following the directions in the written notice you received from them.  If you need assistance, consider contacting a Certified Public Accountant who specializes in taxes.  Since the IRS charges interest and penalties on taxes owed, the sooner you make arrangements, the better. 

Taxpayers owe the IRS an estimated $138 billion in overdue tax payments.  As a result, the IRS recently announced that it has hired four collection agencies to collect on past due taxes. Those agencies, which include CBE Group, Conserve, Performant, and Pioneer Credit Recovery, must follow the collection provisions defined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Not all accounts are being assigned to collection agencies.  Those not being assigned to collections include taxpayers under 18, those living in designated combat zones and victims of identity theft.  Accounts currently under examination, litigation, or criminal investigation will not be assigned to collections, either.

The rule of thumb has always been that the federal government will never call you; they will only contact you by mail. So the common wisdom has been that in order to protect yourself from scammers, you should never give your Social Security number over the phone to someone who claims to work for the government or IRS and says he or she needs to verify your identity. 

This remains true, but now that the IRS is actively using collection agencies, it’s possible that may receive a legitimate call from a collector working for the IRS. This change requires more vigilance than ever.  To protect yourself, here’s what you need to know: If you owe money to the IRS, and your account goes into collections, you should receive a letter notifying you your account is being transferred to a private collection agency.  This will go to the last known address the IRS has for you.

If you have moved several times since then, it is possible that you will not receive the notice.  If you are contacted by one of the four collection agencies, and have not received the notice from the IRS, ask the collection agency to mail you a detailed statement of the debt you owe. Tell the collection agency you will only talk to them after you receive the statement. 

You should also know that the payment for the account in collections should go directly to the IRS, not the collection agency.  If a company wants you to send money to them, don’t do it.  If you are asked to make an electronic payment, the only place to do so is at If you do not wish to work with the assigned collection agency, you must submit your request in writing to the collection agency.  And remember, never give out your social security number by phone – the IRS already has it.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.