Sunday, December 6, 2015

A chat with IRS Agent Raselle. (Not his real name. Not his real job.)

I'm pretty sure Agent Raselle does not work here,
where they have 800 numbers.
Last night, I came home to a missed call and this message on my phone:

“This is the Internal Revenue Service calling with a final notification that a lawsuit has been filed against you. Call this number to confirm that you have received this message.”

My problem isn't that I sometimes answer the phone to a number that's suspicious. Everyone does that.  My problem is that if I'm unprepared, I can't play with them, and that is disappointing.   

But this message came with a number. So, I called back and sure enough, the person answered, "Internal Revenue Service."

"Is this really the IRS?" I asked.
"Yes, that's correct."
"I understand I'm being sued by you."
"What is your name?"
"What is your name?"
"Raselle," he said, (I'm guessing at the spelling).
"What is your name?"
"Hold on. You're really with the IRS, right?"
"That is correct. What is your name?"
"Wait, why are you calling me from a cell phone, Raselle? I think the IRS has an 800 number."
"You were called to settle a lawsuit."
"I don't recall being notified about a lawsuit. And yet it said final notification. Have you already called me from your cell phone?"
"I need to verify information, before I can give you details about the lawsuit."
"And you're the IRS person to talk to, right? You're not going to just put me on hold?"
"That is correct."
"Okay, go ahead."
"Is this (address) correct for you?"
"No, that's not correct."
"What is your address and zip code?"
"I can't give you that, Raselle."
"This is a serious matter and you have been contacted already."
"No I haven't."
"Yes you were."
"No I haven't."
"Yes you were. You received two letters."
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did."
"No I didn't."
"Well, that's your problem."
"Okay,Raselle. I don't think the IRS speaks to people that way."
 A call beeped in and I held the phone out. It was my son.
"Raselle, I have to go."
"You will not be notified again."
"Well, that's also my problem."
I hung up on him, and talked to my son about his ugly-sweater party.

I know I shouldn't have even returned the call. My number was obviously a tick on the scammer wheel of fortune and calling back is how victims set themselves up for continued harassment.

So, nobody try that at home.  

But I couldn't help myself. Scammers (not to be confused with telemarketers who don't prey on the elderly), are like mosquitoes and black flies. They are aggressive, they are rude, they are relentless. They'll come at you even if you've been told how to protect yourself and eventually, you'll answer the phone without checking the number and they'll scare you into listening to them. 

Or, if agent Raselle has his way, you'll see the unfamiliar number and return the call anyway because it could be a child or friend or an emergency. And then, agent Raselle will offer you a way out of the lawsuit being filed against you in exchange for your debit card number, which agent Raselle knows, some people will offer to avoid so much as a dirty look from the Internal Revenue Service. 

If that call does come, hang up and do what they suggest you do over at the real IRS, where they have 800 numbers:

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at

You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose "Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

June, 2015

Or, if you get that call, and you're in need of amusement, you can let your fake agent know that before you answer any of their questions, you'd like them to answer a few of yours.

I think that's only fair. 


1 comment:

  1. Ah, serving playful just desserts to a scammer. It does my heart good.