The Day The Fake IRS Called Mom and Mark: Part I

posted in: Day In The Life 18
The Sanyo TAS 1000, dingy and creepy enough to feel appropriate here. Photo: Wikipedia.
The Sanyo TAS 1000, dingy and creepy enough to feel appropriate here. Photo: Wikipedia.


The quilt blocks I talked about the day before yesterday, they’ll be back. In fact, there’s a project on PaperGirl debuting soon that will use those and other blocks in a neat way. But for now, because I desperately feel like telling a story (for old times’ sake), I’m going to tell you a story. Doesn’t that sound good?

I was home in Iowa, sitting at the kitchen counter, surely with snack. Mark, my amazing stepdad, came in shaking his head.

“Marianne!” he called over his shoulder to the next room. “We’ve got big problems!”

This is something Mark says frequently, but it often just means he’s misplaced something. He’ll burst into a room and say, “Honey, we’ve got big problems: I can’t find the extra bag of mulch!” Or, “Honey, I’ve got big problems: The new stapler is not on my desk!” More often than not, the item will be found within an hour. It’s pretty adorable.

But that day, Mark seemed truly worried.

“There’s a message on the voicemail and… Well, I just don’t know what to make of it,” he said. My mother came into the kitchen to fix an English muffin and looked appropriately concerned, which is to say she did not look immediately concerned.

“It’s the IRS. They say we need to call them right away. I’m very concerned. Something about a fine and a missed payment? I can’t imagine that —”

My neck seized up and my fingers curled into claws. IRS? A fine? A missed payment? That was no IRS call. That was a scam call. I knew it instantly.

“Mark, Mark, I have to interrupt,” I said, interrupting him. “That’s not a real call from the IRA. It’s a scam. Do not call them back, Mark, whatever you do.”

That very week I had read an article about how bad — good? — the fake IRS and bank scam calls had gotten. Record numbers of them were being reported and record amounts of money were being taken from decent, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Like Mom and Mark.

“Well, I’m glad to hear you say that,” Mark said. “I was suspicious, myself. If the IRS wants to get in touch with a person, they’re going to send a letter. That’s how I understand it.”

“Who wakes up and does that for a living?” Mom mom asked, chewing her muffin. “Who are these people?”

And then I had an idea: I would find out. And I would give ’em hell.

“Did they leave a callback number?” I asked, sliding off my barstool. I walked toward the phone on Mark’s desk. He nodded and showed me the post-it note where he had written down the mysterious phone number. I asked him if he would play me the message, too.

He played it. It was a robot voice. It sounded scary and real: a little too scary to actually be real, you know? The IRS will not contact you by phone — Mark is right that they will send you certified mail — but they will for sure not contact you by phone in a robot voice that says, with a threatening tone, “YOU MUST CALL BACK IMMEDIATELY OR BE SUBJECT TO FEDERAL PRISON.”

My blood boiled. I wanted to punish these swindlers, these low-lifes.

I looked at the number on the post-it and thought about my strategy. Should I simply call and cuss them out? That would feel great. Maybe I should scare them! Call and pretend to be the cops! I went online and found a real government website where you can report numbers like the one I had in my hand and I planned to officially report it — but not until I had a little fun.

[To be continued tomorrow.]

18 Responses

  1. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    I have received that call several times. My daughter received it & decided to call them back she sounded really concerned & kept asking about his name & #–eventually he hung up on her, & they haven’t called back,

    • Karen
      | Reply

      Yes, I got several too…last time, when I wouldn’t tell them the phone number I was calling from he said he was going to take away my driver’s license, my social security number and my birth certificate. These are real crazy people.

  2. Ann Bailey
    | Reply

    I can’t wait to see what you did….it’s the vulnerable people – seniors and less savvy folks – that I worry about. Also I am being harassed by another scammer scumbug —- they say they are from “Windows” and they’re calling about my computer problems. They supposedly busted a huge group over in India that are running this scam, but I just had a call recently, so they’re at it again.

  3. Coley
    | Reply

    I got one of those calls recently, but even if I hadn’t known the IRS only contacts you via mail, the dead giveaway was they asked for Coley, not Nicole (my legal name).

  4. Paula Y.
    | Reply

    I also kept getting calls about Windows needing an update. After ignoring them for a while I answered a call and the conversation went similar to this:
    “Ma’am, your Windows needs to be updated.”
    “My windows, why they’re fine, we replaced them several years ago.”
    “No, I mean the Windows on your computer.”
    “Oh, no, my windows are in the walls, how else could we look outside?”
    You get the point. This continued for at least 5 minutes until the caller hung up on me. They’ve never called back!!

    • Deb KimballS H5
      | Reply

      Quick and great thinking.

    • Laura Jean
      | Reply

      Paula Y, you have just MADE MY DAY! no, make that my MONTH!! I was trying to read your post to my hubby but was laughing so hard it took me 6 whole minutes and couldn’t do it. I finally had to point at the screen and tell him to read. Thank you so much.

  5. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    I’ve had my Mac be frozen by clicking an apparently innocent post on Face Book. The message claims a virus is about to invade and to call a toll-free number. Do not call the flashing # but call Apple Support immediately to get help unlocking your computer. Last time it happened I was given an app to use monthly to “sweep” out potencially nasty bugs.

    I can hardly wait what kind of fun Mary will have with them.

  6. Cindy mizer
    | Reply

    Good for you! My mother, who is 83, got one recently. Upset her, which reaaly steams me. I told her not to pick up any calls she doesnt recognize. Lrave then for me.

  7. Anne
    | Reply

    I called them back, too, and was very distraught. I mean, this is a big deal, right??? Lawsuit? Jail time? OH MY GOD!!! The guy on the other end couldn’t handle it and hung up on me.

  8. Mandy Laseter
    | Reply

    My husband got a call at work this week, supposedly from the head office of the retail co. for which he manages a store. They said he could be fired if he didn’t pay a medical bill for a person who supposedly fell in his store. They were very convincing, but only knew the name of his district manager, and no body else. He is very experienced and didn’t fall for it.

  9. Rhonda Mossner
    | Reply

    Start typing ! Don’t leave us hanging!! Can’t wait to hear what you do you sly girl!!

  10. Laura Jean
    | Reply

    GAHHHHH! How can you stop there? I can’t wait to hear what you did to the wee little bug who’s working this scam.

  11. Carol
    | Reply

    I know of someone who got a call supposedly from the IRS and was told to be at Walmart at 8:00 with a money order to pay the taxes.
    We had a call about updating Windows—my son told them that we’re still using DOS.

  12. Patty Setlock
    | Reply

    You go girl. Just like the puppy scammer that tried to get me to send $400 by western union to her”husband” 200 miles away

  13. […] I was sewing this evening and thinking through the second chapter of the phony IRS phone call story, I realized that while some people commented on Facebook and in the comments below that they […]

  14. Colleen
    | Reply

    Man we get that computer up date problem all the time I asked to talk to the supervisor and told him he was a lier and I know he is a lier because we don’t hav a computer he hung up on me

  15. […] transom the other day I thought I’d have some fun with them. Not the same kind of fun I had with this internet-age S.O.B. (a bit of mischief I’m still quite proud of, honestly.) No, I thought it would be amusing […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *