Fraud and Lies, phone calls from Conmen and women.

The phone rings. Always the wrong time, always the disrupter of my reading, my serenity. It’s another conman wanting me to call him. “You are in trouble,” he murmurs, “You must call this number because the IRS has found you guilty of…Here he fills in the words he wants. Tax fraud, tax evasion, he wants me to know that I am guilty. He threatens me with court actions; having to appear before a grand jury, being arrested, embarrassing my family. He’s a fraud, living off the fears of men and woman who don’t have my knowledge of these things.

I am not a victim. I note the phone number and wonder who I could call to report them to. A phone crime isn’t a mail crime. Nothing passes through the mail that could be considered fraudulent. The conman is careful. I bring up the IRS website on my computer and notice that the con is one of the top violations, called in fact the Dirty Dozen. The conman isn’t careful enough. A google search reveals that over 5,000 people have been bilked out of over $26,000,000 dollars. I gag at the amount. Seniors who worry, those without knowledge that the IRS never calls to collect money, even people who might have something to hide, they are all targets. Why am I a target? Did they buy my phone number or is it just a random dialer. The more I read, the angrier I get.

There is a fraud line for the IRS. or call 1-800-829-1040. It was easy to find on google.  Apparently the conmen also tell you that you might have won the lottery and will owe taxes before they can allow you to be awarded the money. They want to you wire them money. They say that it must be sent to Lloyd’s of London for security reason. The fake debt call from the IRS could also be said to be from the local sheriff’s office, the FTC, or any government branch. Anyone who demands or asks for you to wire money for any purpose should be treated skeptically. Anyone who offers you a scholarship you didn’t apply for, be wary. It’s a con. Anyone who wants you to pay for information about Federal Jobs is a con, as well. That information is free.

So, I reported the phone number to the IRS. They happen to be functioning under a little known organization called The Treasury Department. The Treasury Department has a small group that it coordinates with called the FBI. The FBI is responsible for over 200 different types of crime. I used the handy form on the IRS site for reporting fraud. It was easy, reassured me that I didn’t have to fill in all of the blanks, gave me a case number in case I’m contacted again, and promised that if I did owe money, I could talk to their counselors to find a resolution. Nice polite people at the IRS, much nicer than the student loan groups Sallie Mae or Navient who will don’t work with you and just order you around.

I don’t owe the IRS anything. I pay my taxes, and I do it on time.

What do they suggest I do? Report the incident. Write down the time and date. Write what department are they calling from. Write all of the details they give you. Keep track of the numbers they give you. NEVER GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION. These folks are pros. They’ll use any information on you to steal your identity. Don’t be a victim. Check on elderly family to make sure they understand what is happening and that this is a con. Tell your friends. IF you start it as a joke, “Guess who called me at home, and boy is this a scam” it will get the word out. Even as I typed this, my father-in-law received a call too.

Get on the Federal Do Not Call List. Stay safe and pass the word.

Tax Night

I vacuumed through the small dog fronds of fur, compiled it with cat, augmenting it with the dirt of living in a house for 24 years. I moved furniture like the powerful Katrinka from the fjords that I used to be. The room is half together when I call a break for a MacDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I glance about, furious with the amount of work that needs doing. My eyes fall on the mess in one corner.

The tax forms were escaping from a bundle of useless paper, formal documents of every moment of our spending, and pictures from here and there around the world that I still have to edit or delete into a basket that was wider than long. The laptop lay open waiting to tease me into confronting my fear that we would owe, that the government thought us richer than we are.

I let the TV ramble on its own, deciding not to listen to the story but to use it as white noise. As the last number snaps into place and the tax forms grab my credit card and checking account numbers to abscond with them, I find myself being annoyed at the fluff that is chasing itself across the screens.

Trivial is the first thought and then I hear the shot ring out. No, not from the screen, but from memory, a shocking vision of what life was like for me growing up just this side of 31st Avenue. A pregnancy, a terminal illness, a shotgun wound, an abortion, a loss, a hammer through the skull of a child, a foundling, and old men playing with forms of drink, cards and knives, these things were just on the other side of the neighborhood my parents found for us to live. We were on the good side of the street, hell was on the other side.