For years, Iowans have heard how con artists posing as IRS agents may call our homes trying to steal our money, but we’ve always been reassured the IRS doesn’t make that type of call.

Well, there’s a new wrinkle in that familiar story, according to Jim Hegarty, CEO of the Better Business Bureau office in Omaha-Council Bluffs.

“The IRS has now hired four private contractors to do actual, legitimate collection work for them,” Hegarty says. “It’s possible that although we’ve been warning that these calls from IRS agents are imposters, it’s possible you could receive a legitimate call from one of these entities.” Iowans won’t get such a call unless they owe back taxes, plus, you’ll get a letter first.

Hegarty says, “You will not receive one of these calls unless you have first been notified by mail that your account is being turned over to one of these four companies and they may be calling you to talk about a plan to catch up on some back taxes.” Unlike scammers, he says these people will be professional, courteous and won’t demand you make a payment immediately.

Hegarty says there’s a relatively easy way to distinguish a call from a legitimate IRS person and one from a con artist. “They’re calling to say, ‘We owe you money and we need to verify that you are who we think you are’,” Hegarty says. They’ll ask for your grandmother’s maiden name, your mother’s maiden name, all sorts of information. “Those are scammers who are trying to get information from you in a different way.”

Any payments that are due will be sent directly to the IRS, plus, taxpayers can request information be sent by mail for verification.