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When you get the call, dont fall for it
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Forsyth County News

Just when the media and national polls in this election season made me feel as if I don’t know how to think or vote, a ray of hope was provided.

From the most unlikely of sources.

Why be depressed when there are phone scammers gearing up for the Christmas holidays by perfecting their A-games.

Not sure if you’ve been provided the same opportunity to get back at the vermin who make some sort of living by delivering pitches designed to prey on the elderly and (being very polite here) the less-enlightened.

If not in the middle of doing something productive, I relish the chance to match wits with these nitwits on the other end of the line. There are several cons going around, but here is a popular one:

“The IRS on the line and you’re in big trouble, Michael.”

Hopefully you’ve gotten this one more than once. A message is left and you are instructed to call and discuss your plight. Shame on you for stiffing Uncle Sam. You better call back.

No way I’m a deadbeat, slacker or scofflaw, so the call is returned and it goes something like this:

“I received a call from you folks and don’t know what to do. I done spent my tax refund on some rasslin’ DVDs, two My Pillows, and all kinds of other stuff I saw on the TV. It looks like Jerry Lewis has taken a powder and was nowhere to be found last Labor Day, or I would have sent some jack to him too.”

My generosity was unappreciated. Although it was difficult to hear Larry (that’s what he said his name was, although he sounded like he could have had a supporting role in “Gandhi”) because of other conversations going on at IRS headquarters, I was informed: “This is a “wery” serious matter and you must pay immediately.”

Game on. It was time to shine.

“Hold it, Larry. Are you trying to talk like Elmer Fudd? And can I call you Sabu?”

“Who is this Elmer Fudd?” Larry asked.

“He’s a guy who talks funny, carries a shotgun and hates ‘wabbits,’ so I thought you might be kin to Elmer.”

Larry was a little confused, but was staying on his game: “Michael, you must pay $7,000 or you will be arrested.”

“Now wait just a minute. No way you’re arresting me. I’m watching football and the debate. And by the way, have you ever been bitten by a cobra?”

“And Larry, I’m not sure you’re for real. Before I give you my credit card number, where are you calling from?”

Our tenacious civil servant was sharp as a dull knife, proudly saying he was calling from the IRS office in Washington, D.C. It was time to get serious and see if Larry was legit, so I asked: “OK Sabu, what color is the White House?”

Larry had probably not had to deviate from his script like this and he was obviously sweating this one out. He put me on hold as, in muffled tones, he convened an impromptu meeting of the minds at IRS headquarters, which in reality, was probably really a boiler room in a strip mall.

Proudly, Larry got back on the line and said: “Michael, the White House is white,” but “white” sounded like “vite.”

“Well Sabu, you are a sharp one. You got me there. By the way, have you been getting a lot of other proud Americans to send you money?

And I’m not sure how to get the money to you. Any chance I could drop it off here at the IRS in Atlanta?”

Larry was in a panic, sensed his brush with hitting pay dirt was about to say adios.

“No, you must give me your credit card number,” said Larry, asserting his most threatening voice. I pictured Bugs Bunny sticking a finger in Elmer’s shotgun.

“The card is a little maxed out, Larry. Can I just give you a hen way?”

Larry, on his heels, was getting peeved. “Now Michael. No more games. What’s a hen way?”

“Oh, about three or four pounds.” Click.

The volume of calls is about to grow by leaps and bounds. Please don’t buy anything that’s being pitched. As we get closer to the holidays, there will be many opportunities to help legitimate charities.

As for vermin like Larry, claiming they want to fix your computer or threaten you in any way, remember that you are much smarter than the person calling you.

That’s why they are phone solicitors.

Mike Tasos can be reached at miketasos@earthlink.net. His column appears in the Forsyth News every other Sunday. Realizing that “Do Not Call” list works as well as a Veg-A-Matic, his message to phone solicitors: “Bring it on. I’ve got a million of them.”