That’s what brought John Hughes of New Providence to contact Bamboozled. When he makes outgoing calls from his home office phone, the Caller ID identifies him as “Comp Sciences Corp,” and he’s been trying for a year to get a correction from Verizon, his telephone service provider.
‘‘I started off going to Verizon tech support chat, and they had no idea of even where to start to go about fixing it,’’ Hughes said. ‘‘I tried calling a Verizon 800-number and they had no idea how to fix it.’’
‘‘I became frustrated even trying to deal with it, so I just lived with it,’’ he said. ‘‘I just ran out of patience.’’
He said he can’t quantify how many customers wouldn’t answer his phone calls because of the wrong Caller ID, but as a salesperson, every call is an important one. Calls he made to other Verizon customers seemed to have the correct Caller ID, but those to other providers, such as Comcast, were misidentified.
‘‘Our records were accurate and the cable company [Comcast] told us that their listing was correct as well,’’ said Verizon spokesman Rich Young. ‘‘We then asked an independent company that handles listings for many providers to check their records. They discovered the error and corrected the problem.’’
Thanks to Verizon for fixing this customer’s complaint.
BATTLE WITH THE IRS
Back in February, Bamboozled reported the story of Marti Caito, a Somerset County woman who purchased a mobile home and applied for the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.
She paid $75,000 for the home, and according to IRS rules, she was expecting to get back 10 percent, or $7,500, in the form of the credit when she filed her taxes.
Then she was audited.
The IRS wanted to see a HUD statement, but mobile home buyers don’t get a HUD statement. Instead, they file a title change with the Motor Vehicle Commission. The IRS even tells homebuyers on its website what to do in cases like this:
‘‘For purchasers of mobile homes who are unable to get a [HUD] settlement statement, a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.’’
For months, Caito and her certified public accountant Gail Rosen, volleyed back and forth with the IRS.
Caito and Rosen sent in more paperwork, and more paperwork again, and they waited.
“Other people in her neighborhood did get the credit for their purchase of their mobile home,” Rosen said.
“It is sometimes the luck of the draw if they pick you to ask for further documentation.
The IRS was receiving a lot of illegal requests for refunds for this credit and was taking precautions to make sure that all requests were in fact legitimate.”
Finally, late in June, Caito prevailed.
She received a check for the $7,500 credit — plus $352 in interest — from the IRS.
If you’ve been turned down for the credit and you feel the IRS is in error, Rosen said you have to continue to answer all questions and correspondences from the IRS by certified mail, return receipt requested, by the date requested.
If you need additional help, use the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service (irs.gov/advocate), which is designed to help taxpayers who are unable to resolve their disputes through normal IRS channels.
NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
Bamboozled was contacted by someone who had received a $400 check in the mail from the Internal Revenue Service.
‘‘I don’t know what it’s for,’’ she said in an e-mail. ‘‘I paid my taxes in April ($435) and since I have a simple return, I find it hard to believe I made a $400 error.’’
On the check, it says “KANS CYTAX REFUND.” The recipient, who has never been to Kansas City, wondered if it was possible that someone else’s refund could have been tied to her Social Security number, or if the check was a fraud of some kind.
Or even a come-on. You know the kind: ‘‘Cash this check and you’ll automatically be enrolled in…”
There was no fine print on the check, though, and it looked authentic.
We did some checking around. A simple Google search with the words “KANS CYTAX REFUND” revealed that lots of people have received this check, and many had no idea what it was for.
The IRS shed light on the payment. ‘‘KANS CYTAX REFUND” is shorthand for Kansas City, Missouri, where the IRS has a large processing center. It’s the center that handles returns for New Jersey.
The IRS didn’t look at this particular person’s return, but said it sounded like the check was for the Making Work Pay tax credit, which is worth as much as $400 for singles and $800 for married couples.
‘‘If people forgot to take the credit, the IRS would still give it to them,’’ said an IRS spokeswoman.
When the IRS sends a refund check, it never sends an explanation letter in the same envelope.
This taxpayer should receive an explanation letter within two weeks of receiving the check, the IRS said.
‘‘I definitely didn’t apply for the Making Work Pay tax credit. I didn’t know it existed,’’ the taxpayer said.
Within two weeks, the explanation letter arrived from the IRS.
No scam this time.
‘‘As you thought, it was the Making Work Pay credit,’’ she said. ‘‘Imagine that! The government giving you money without asking!’’
If you receive an unexpected check from anyone, do some research before you cash it. Make sure you know where the money is coming from, and that it comes with no strings attached.