Tips for Dealing with Automated Collection Systems Agents

Let me give you some tips on dealing with automated collection system agents. The first is you have to understand how the system works is ACS agents are in a bunch of call centers across the country. Because they’re in call centers, they can handle a high volume of calls from people all over the United States. The best strategy for dealing with ACS, to avoid sitting on hold for an hour, is to give a call early in the morning or late at night. In our office, we have East Coast phone numbers and we will actually call the East Coast before the West Coast opens so that we can get through. That’s a great tactic because when the East Coast opens up at eight o’clock, it's five o’clock California time and the rest of the country is sleeping. Our chances of getting through to ACS are much greater. Consequently, if I call late at night, if I call at seven o’clock – ACS is open ‘til eight by the way – then I’m much more likely to get through because the rest of the country is sleeping, and/or their call centers have been shut down.That way I'm only be dealing with people on the West Coast particularly during peak season. To avoid increased call volumes, call ACS during off-peak hours. Secondly, because they are large and because they are multiple people, your experience with ACS largely depends on the individual agent.

Sometimes you get people who are really nice. I enjoyed talking with the people in Memphis about barbeque and how great the blues music is down there. Occasionally you get people – and I won't name any cities or name any names – that are pretty surly. If you get an agent who is having a bad day – as we all have bad day sometimes – it is really important to disengage with that agent. When you call ACS, kind of read the person on the other phone. If they're having a bad day or they sound like they’re not going to help your client, just hang up and call back so you get one that who’s going to have a good day. That’s really important because tax resolution and tax law in general is a very people-oriented business. When dealing with the government and dealing with the job that is somewhat tactless, you can get a long way with a kind word and a smile. One of the common phrases that I use is “You win more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That’s absolutely true when dealing with the IRS. It is so refreshing for this agent you should hear the light in their voice when you call and just say, “Hey, how’s the weather in Memphis?” “How are you doing today?” It really goes a long way. If you are polite and friendly towards the IRS and working with a general sense of respect – as I'm sure most of you are in your practices – then that will really take you a long way with the IRS. Again, I also want to reiterate just because it is a very important issue, always document your calls with ACS. Keep a record, keep a log and make sure that you have a backup in case there is a dispute.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law