May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Most of my readers picture me as a happy-go-lucky guy who for some reason has recently become obsessed with his back. But beneath it all, I have tzuris. Most of these come over the phone.

Like I got a call from the IRS that said that this is a final notice: They’ve been trying to call, and they want to let me know that they’re suing me. It wasn’t even someone from the IRS who said this. It was a robot.

The IRS is suing me? Why? They know I have no money.

They didn’t even ask who I was. They could have gotten a wrong number, they could have gotten a babysitter—they didn’t care. Whoever picked up was getting sued. This is why I generally make my wife answer the phone.

I don’t understand what I did that would cause them to sue me—the robot wasn’t specific. But it did give me a callback number that I could call for more information, which was for some reason not the number they called from.

Because this is how the IRS does things. They don’t just fine you for not paying taxes. They sue you, like you hit their car on the highway. Like the whole IRS is going to walk into court in neck braces. This is how they do it. They call you with an automated phone system, and tell you that it’s urgent that you call back.

If it’s so urgent, why do I have to call back? Why not just call me with a person in the first place?

Usually, if the IRS wants money from us—which they do on a regular basis, for some reason—they send a letter. But maybe they decided to mix it up a little. For fun.

Never mind that the robot voice is the kind of thing you use when you have a million phone calls to make. It kind of feels like they’re suing millions of people, and they want to do it efficiently. And have everyone call back at once, in a panic.

Anyway, the call said this was my final notice. I know that’s what it said, because I got the same call three days later.

And the caller ID didn’t say “IRS” either. You’d think if they’re IRS, they’d want to let you know, right off the bat. But they didn’t. So they probably called from someone’s house or something. The caller ID just said they were calling from Washington. The state—not even the capital. Benton City, Washington. Which I looked up. The entire city is 2 ½ square miles, and it shares a school district with adjacent towns.

So I consulted with other people who were getting sued, and I heard that when people call back, they’re told to pay with a debit card or else the cops will throw them in jail. Because that’s how cops arrest people nowadays. By phone.

“We’re coming to get you. Stand outside.”

Some of the people are saying it’s a scam, though. But what if it’s not? Maybe I should pay. Better safe than sorry, I always say. Though if it’s a scam, I’ll be sorry. So I guess it’s, “Better safe and sorry than just sorry.”

And on top of that, I heard that the IRS has issued warnings about scam calls pretending to be the IRS. But how do I know that they’re the IRS?

We get a lot of these calls. For example, I often get calls from someone named “Private Caller.” The Private wants all kinds of things. One time he wanted to lower my credit card interest rate. Awesome! All he needed was my credit card number so he could get to work on it.

Wait, why are you doing this for me? Shouldn’t you be defending the country?

Then there’s a number that calls, and when I say, “Hello?” like three times, a robot voice comes on and says, “Goodbye,” and hangs up. They called to say goodbye? I always think my house is about to get bombed.

How many people are you calling to say goodbye that you needed a robot voice?

And then there was the time I got a call from myself. The caller ID actually said my phone number.

How could I be calling myself? I’m the only one home! And if I’m calling, how’s my phone ringing?

So I picked up the phone and it was me, trying to get money. Why would I not give him my credit card number? It’s me, after all. Why would I be scamming myself? I’m not dumb enough to fall for that.

Ok, so I didn’t send me money. I was too freaked out. Is this some kind of time paradox? Is this me from the future?

It’s a good thing I have caller ID. In the old days, I would have just picked up and started talking to myself. Which isn’t so weird nowadays, but on the phone it still is. I’m making a long distance call to talk to myself on the phone?

Ok, so it didn’t sound like me. It was someone else. Was this person inside my house? Should I call the cops?

No, I can’t. He’s tying up the phone line.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].



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