Tag Archives: consumer advocacy

Here’s Why The #IRS Isn’t Suing You #scams

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I’ve recently had to field my fifth and sixth final warnings from diligent and eager “IRS customer service agents” who are “bring lawsuit against you [me]” on my cell phone.

The phone calls are never live, because that would be illegal, to, y’know, falsely represent a federal agent.

The calls are usually after IRS business hours, so when I call them back, if a person doesn’t answer the phone, the calls are actually answered by a real IRS field office which doesn’t take calls and instructs you to call back during normal business hours. Somehow, the criminals are co-opting the real phone numbers of these offices.

Other times, if you call back and you get a person who alleges to be an IRS agent with a badge number and who gives a legitimate field office address and so if you check it on your computer at the same time you’re interacting with these people, the data is compelling, it can FEEL legitimate. It’s not.

Here’s the truth: they’re not legit. They’re criminals and thugs, wearing headsets and are only trying to steal from you.

My post here is skimming on many of the facts of these situations. I won’t purport to know all the reasons and ways the IRS will interact with a taxpayer. 

News of these scams are rampant.  One man in North Carolina, a minister, paid off these people with PREPAID DEBIT CARDS to the tune of $16,000 — that’s money he’ll NEVER see again…

So here are some (of many — too many to list) truths about this situation:

  • The actual IRS will announce an audit (not a lawsuit) over registered and certified mail, to your residence, or the last known residence listed on your most recent tax return.
  • The scammers called my son’s cell phone. He’s 17. He doesn’t have a job, never has. He doesn’t file taxes.
  • The scammers  don’t know who they’re talking to… that’s a tip-off.
  • The scammers don’t know your name. Don’t give it to them. It’s fun though, to give them a false one and let them follow a trail…
  • The scammers don’t know your street address, don’t give it to them. Keep the charade going: give them a fake one. 

If you make the scammers verify everything — it will be a very short call. But they’ll dance around it.

The scammers will say you’re under investigation for a very old tax return year, say, 2008. The IRS can’t audit you beyond two years’ worth of tax returns (so for FY 2015, they can’t go to years prior to 2013 — often these scammers will say you’re being sued on 2010 or older return — don’t believe it — it’s not real). They like to say the lawsuit (never an audit) is going far back to throw you off.

Will the scammer be articulate and persistent? Yes. They will keep saying the same thing — fast and confidently– and it will sound official and feel convincing. But here’s the truth: don’t call for it… call the IRS in the morning and have a rational conversation with an agent.

Better yet, don’t answer the call. Let it go to voicemail and then call an IRS office in the morning. The IRS also has a toll-free number: (800) 829-1040.

If after the audit, to which you are a party, and the IRS does deem some further action is in order, you will know about it well in advance and trust me, it won’t be handled over your cell phone.

A tip-off: these thugs threaten you with incarceration. The police aren’t coming to get you. These people don’t even know who you are, remember that. If you are on the phone with these clowns, ask them to give you your street address. They can’t. Because they’re on a Skype or other pirated line which can’t be traced, and they don’t know where you’re calling from. Don’t give it to them.

The Motley Fool wrote about this last April — http://www.fool.com/personal-finance/taxes/2015/04/15/beware-irs-phone-number-scams.aspx

The IRS placed phone scams as No. 1 on its dirty dozen tax scams list this year, up from No. 2 last year, when it received more than 90,000 complaints about such calls. It’s a quickly growing problem, as phone scams didn’t even make the top 12 list in 2013. –The Motley Fool

Here are other news stories / resources:

http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/irs-warns-of-top-3-tax-scams-for-2016

To get more official phone numbers:

https://gethuman.com/phone-number/IRS/customer-service/~6690

But if you’re like me, and you like to really mess with these people on a slow night, and brush up your improv skills, do what I did last week:

Ai luyke to make pretend i am Oksana Brataslavich from Tsovkra – a tiny willage in Russia; home of many tightrope walkers of good repute, and thet ai am winning IRS lawsuit? HOW MUCH? HOW MUCH I WIN FOR? SUCH GREAT NEWS! THIS FUNDINGS OF AMERICAN DOLLARS WILL HELP WITH getting new carborator on tractor… and ai go on and on and on about how my mother needs new leg and thet my children, Boris, that lazy boy who is 6 now, can’t pull plow because of whooping cough he got from old man he spent weekend with…. they hang up.

I win. 

They’re out there, these assholes. Might as well screw with them if you have the inclination. My two sons and husband called them back — from four mobile phones — one night so much they didn’t answer for an hour. Then when they did pick up, they apologized for our wait saying they were dealing with prank callers. And we started in again. Yuk yuk yuk….

Thank you.

 

Rant: Burnt Tofu on MLK Day

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I’m not one to rant and go all preachy consumer-advocacy on my blog. I save that for the phone calls to the customer service lines of the places where I receive bad service.

But this time… the place deserves it.

My long-time, beloved and local Noodles & Co., has earned my wrath.

I ordered Pad Thai with extra tofu. I knew this was a gamble, because I’ve had it before at this restaurant and it’s been pretty subpar; but their other stuff is usually quite good, so I went against my better judgment. I love N&C. When I was PTA president, I used to arrange our dinners out fundraisers there all the time. It was a great relationship. But these elegant café places are sort of all the same now: explosive growth, good food swiftly prepared and you’re out in less than 40 minutes, because we all have to get back to texting and instagram.

After ordering we sat down with the number placard which designated our order. All our meals arrived and all my tofu was beneath the Pad Thai noodles. About halfway into the meal, my stomach started to hurt. So I stopped eating. I “searched” around into my bowl and discovered my tofu was seared scorched. It was beyond overcooked, it was past its peak and it was inedible, hard and bad tasting.

I decided at first to let it go and just move on. But then I thought better of it and I walked up to the counter with my bowl and I presented it to a staffer. I’m not sure he was the manager, but he looked to be the oldest in the restaurant.

He asked me if I needed assistance and I told him my food was overcooked and showed it to him. I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. My phone was in my car and I’m really starting to get skeeved out by all the photo sharing all over the internet and the way things are taken out of context.

I said, “This is overcooked; not only is that the problem, but it’s singed, burnt. It should never have been served and someone served it anyway.”

“Why didn’t you tell us about it earlier?”

“Because it was hidden beneath the noodles and my stomach only started hurting moments ago. Does it look burned to you? Does it look like it should be served?”

“Would you like another one? How about dessert?” he said, gesturing to the piles of brick-sized rice krispy treats and 6″ cookies in a basket on the counter.

“No. Thanks, no. My appetite is shot. I just wanted you to know. It’s too bad; this place used to be my go-to but lately, in the last six months or so, it just seems to have gone downhill; become lazy and this burnt tofu is sort of a sign of that. You all have let things slide.”

“Would you like something else? How about taking something to-go?”

I tilted my head. I didn’t want anything in return. And here’s where I started to realize that I was talking to a script reciter. This person had no … interpersonal skills or training. No empathy, well, that was just a hunch until he said this when I asked him if he’d eat it…

“Well, I don’t like Pad Thai,” smirking. I hate smirks. They’re symbolic to me of peoples’ inability to feel whatever they’re feeling and behave authentically.

My eyes became as big as saucers. They popped out of my head, bounced off the counter, landed on the floor, and rolled about 12 feet to a nearby table. While my kids scrambled for them, I did my best, “WHAT?!”

“You don’t like Pad Thai? Tell me you didn’t just say that. Well, then do you like your food burnt? We’re not gonna really go there, are we?”

Sheepish smile, clear discomfort came over his face and he sort of snorted in spite of himself, “Well, I uh, no. I don’t like my food burnt.”

He was looking at me (my kids were holding up my eyeballs for me, like Mr. Potatohead would do for the missus when she lost her eye) and he said, “Well, what do you want me to do for you?”

I said, “I realize this makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have a solution that will address this; my appetite is ruined because of the burned food your kitchen concealed beneath the noodles; I get that. I don’t want money, I don’t want food. I just want you to say you’re sorry and that regardless of whether you like Pad Thai, that you hear me. That you understand how I feel and that laziness contributed to this experience.”

“Yeah. I guess it did.”

That was the best he could give me. It’s not that I wanted more or that I needed I needed I needed, it’s that there’s something wrong, something missing, a chip maybe in someone who can LOOK SOMEONE ELSE squarely in the face and ostensively tell them that their complaint doesn’t jibe with them BECAUSE it’s not identical, because it’s not their comfort at stake, because it’s not ABOUT THEM. They can’t … empathize.

I’m sure this is part of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he talked about service, when he talked about doing your best to further humanity and social progress. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean for a 20-something manager behind the counter of a restaurant to slough responsibility and avoid apology (which he still had yet to do; the words, “You’re right, this is bad, I’m terribly sorry about it” or even their ilk never crossed his lips). What did cross his lips? Compensation, a product replacement, an actable solution; corporate policy.

Sometimes, all someone wants is to be told their concerns are valid; that they matter and that they were right to want an apology. I’m sure that isn’t asking too much; if it is… we’ve got big problems.

Thank you.