Pioneer Claims I Owe Money to the IRS. Is This Legit?

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Are you wondering how ConServe Accounts Receivable, Pioneer, or another private debt collection firm could be collecting your taxes? It turns out that sometimes the IRS turns to private debt collectors too.

Man on a cell phone call

ConServe is a private debt collection agency. They are notorious for the management of defaults on student loans. What you didn’t know is that the agency is just one of four selected by the IRS to begin collecting overdue federal tax debts in 2017. The other companies selected include CBE, Pioneer, and Performant.

Private Collection Of IRS Debt: How It’s Legal

In 2015 the government passed a five-year, $305 billion infrastructure spending bill dubbed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The law enacted provisions to spend about $205 billion on highways and $48 billion on transit projects over a five-year period. What many did not notice when the bill passed was that it required the IRS to use private collection agencies for the collection of outstanding federal tax debt.

If you receive a call from ConServe, CBE, Pioneer or Performant, its likely a legitimate call about a debt and you may need our help.

Four Debt Collection Agencies That May Contact You

ConServe Accounts Receivable Management

ConServe is debt collection agency specializing in student loan defaults for colleges and universities, as well as recovery services for guarantee agencies and private lenders. Unless your business has a working relationship with ConServe, the only reason you will hear from them is if they seek to collect your debts.

Aside from its full collections service, ConServe does a lot of business with medium to large sized companies. They offer a performance management tool for monitoring terms of a business relationship and a proprietary account scoring program.

CBE Companies

CBE is a global provider of outsourced call center solutions that specializes in AR management, fraud, and customer care services. The industry tends to sugar coat their services, but if you get a call from CBE it’s to collect your debts. They do business in a variety of industries that include Telecom, Finance, Utility, Healthcare, Government, and Education. If CBE contacts you it may be to satisfy debts on behalf of a private institution or the government.

Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc.

Pioneer is one of the leading companies in the collection industry. They specialize in collecting government debts. They offer services at the federal, state, city, and municipal level. Pioneer also offers collections of court debts, as well as tax amnesty efforts. Pioneer will only contact you if you have debt with a government entity.

Performant Recovery

Performant partners with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prevent, identify and recover outstanding Medicare claims. You may hear from Performant if you have an outstanding debt with your Medicare or Medicaid provider.

Being contacted by a debt collector is not something to be taken lightly. You should be confident in the facts before you take action to satisfy the debt and it is important to be aware that fraudulent debt collection happens.

If you think your call is fraudulent or you’re talking to a fake collector, here are some things that you can do.

Identifying Debt Collection Scams

Consumers across the country report receiving phone calls from people seeking payment on debts they don’t recognize. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to beware of scam artists posing as debt collectors. It can be hard to tell the difference between a fake collector and a legitimate one.  It is possible for a fake collector to have access to some of your personal information. You should fully authenticate a debt collector’s identity prior to dealing with them.

Here are a few tips on how to identify a fake debt collector:

They refuse to give you a mailing address or phone number.
They ask for personal, financial or sensitive information.
The caller attempts to threaten or scare you into paying.
They seek payment on a debt you don’t recognize

What you should do if you think a caller is a scammer

  • First ask the caller to provide their name, company, street address, and phone number. You’ll want to tell them you can’t discuss any debt without a written validation notice.
  • Stop speaking with the caller. If they give you an address mail a letter requesting that they stop calling you. Legally, a real debt collector has to stop if you send a written demand.
  • Contact your creditor if you think the debt collector is a fake, but you recall the debt.
  • Seek legal advice if you believe the collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (see below for common FDCPA violations).

Your Debt Collection Rights & the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Under federal law, even if you carry large sums of defaulted debt, you are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This law regulates debt collectors and imposes rules they must follow when an agency attempts to contact and collect on outstanding and delinquent debts. Debt collector harassment is illegal. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA you may be able to file suit receive damages. The IRS is required to follow Collection Due Process and it is important to understand your rights. These include rights to appeals. Contact a licensed representative to discuss if you believe there has been a violation of your rights or to learn more about them. See the list of common violations below.

Your Options if a Debt Collector comes after you include:

Payment on the debt
Reaching a settlement
Bringing the case to court
Seek legal advice – FDCPA violations may entitle you to damages.

List of Common FDCPA Violations.

A collector cannot:

Contact you at work after you request that they do not.
Contact you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
Release information about your debt to anyone other than your spouse.
Make an unreasonable amount of calls per day or continued calls when they have prior been instructed to stop.
Collect on debt that is not yours.
Falsely report on your credit.
Fail to leverage all contact methods to warn that the attempt to contact is from a debt collection agency and that all information gathered will be used to collect your debt.

Moving Forward

By now you hopefully have a better understanding about debt collectors and what you can do if you receive a call from one. If a debt collector calls you to collect on overdue federal tax debts, make sure they are with one of the four contracted by the IRS. It may be in your best interest to get assistance from a tax lawyer. For more information about tax resolution firms check out our previous post: What You Need to Know When Seeking a Tax Lawyer and a Reliable Tax Resolution Firm.


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About the Author

A company founder standing by Colorado's Front Range

Tom Conradt

Co-Founder, IRS Collections Defense Attorney

Tom Conradt is the co-founder of Boxelder Consulting & Tax Relief, and has been practicing IRS Collections defense law for the past ten years. Graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tom is the lead IRS Collections Defense Attorney and heads the tax resolution department. Tom’s favorite part about working at Boxelder Consulting is hearing about the relief that clients experience after they sign up and start seeing immediate results on their case. Tom enjoys all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking and climbing. He is also looking forward to the return of indoor pickup basketball.

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