Here we go: Another IRS problem (and a Bank of America problem)

“I don’t know if you have IRS problems; I do.”

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I don’t know if you have IRS problems; I do.  And although I’ve overpaid my taxes, I’ve never even received my COVID-19 stimulus payment.  However, I’ve signed up for an IRS online account – three times.  After my second account wouldn’t work, I was told that I needed to write in and receive an activation code.  So, I did, and the activation code arrived by snail mail (the IRS doesn’t like to send things over the Internet).  But when I tried to enter my online account name(s), neither would work.  The IRS said they “aren’t in our records,” even though I’ve had one of them for several years.  I looked at my letter with the activation code, and it had a telephone number for contacting the IRS.  So I called that number, but it gave me no options for seeking information about my activation code.  I tried calling the IRS, and I was told that I had tried too many times that day (three times) and my account was blocked.  I had waited an hour to speak with an agent, but she would give me no information about my missing account numbers or how to use the activation code to get access to my account.

So two days later (after the block disappeared), I read an article which said I could “hack” the automated system and get to a real agent:

“Here’s how to “hack” the automated system so that a real person will answer: 

  • The IRS telephone number is 1-800-829-1040. They are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Bloggers said the best time to call is in the early morning hours.
  • The first question the automated system will ask you is to choose your language.
  • Once you’ve set your language, do NOT choose Option 1 (regarding refund info). Choose option 2 for “Personal Income Tax” instead.
  • Next, press 1 for “form, tax history, or payment.”
  • Next, press 3 “for all other questions.”
  • Next, press 2 “for all other questions.”
  • When the system asks you to enter your SSN or EIN to access your account information, do NOT enter anything.
  • After it asks twice, you will be prompted with another menu.
  • Press 2 for personal or individual tax questions.
  • Finally, press 3 for all other inquiries. The system should then transfer you to an agent.

Did it work? It worked for us. Let us know if it worked for you by sending an email to mli@king5.com.”

I followed these instructions.  However, I had to wait for an hour (again) to get to a real agent.

Maybe the IRS could be a little more helpful by establishing a way to speak with a live agent.  I know, I know, the IRS would prefer that we use the automated system, which presumes to guide telephone callers, but after a while we give up and really, REALLY need to talk to a live person.

So why not set up an online appointment system?  The IRS has real appointment systems at local offices, but some of us (the 4 million Americans living abroad) can’t go in person.  Yes, the IRS has person-to-person appointments at local offices but not by telephone or online.  Why not?  That would help taxpayers out in rural areas as well as those living abroad. You could call in, get an appointment date and time, and call in.  If there were a need for waiting, the IRS automated system could send you a quick email to give you a new call-in time.  If the IRS were worried that taxpayers would set up appointments and then not meet them, it could require us to confirm our appointment (say) an hour before. That would definitely work and save us all oodles of time.

Help online would be easier than having to go to a local office,  The online agent could look up the caller’s records on his or her computer and give direct information.  And the caller could be easily identified even as the IRS is always identifying callers.

No, we don’t have anything like that.  The IRS won’t even tell you easy ways to speak with an agent.  You only get that information through Google or bloggers online.  And even if you get to “hack” the automated system, you still have to wait up to an hour online.

PS.  I waited, and the agent I got (after an hour online) was in the collections department didn’t know anything about online accounts, user names, or activation codes.  She thought the situation was pretty insane, as I did (and so).  

While talking with her, I read this on the IRS website:

Forgot username or password

You can reset your username and password on the login page.

  • If you forgot your username: Go to the login page and click ‘Forgot Username’ under the username box.
  • If you forgot your password: Go to the login page, enter your username and click ‘Log In.’ On the password page, click ‘Forgot Password.’

You can also re-register by clicking ‘Create Account.’

Note: Our call center can’t help you find your username or reset your password.

(I made this warning larger so that readers are aware of it).  What does this mean?  The IRS system cannot tell you why it is ignoring your registered user name, and yet no real agent can help you!

Is this fair?  Should we be denied the easy right to solve problems with the government agency that takes our money?  You figure it out.

  • * * * * 

And Bank of America is no better.

I’ve been using my user name with B of A for years, and my password for several months.  Suddenly, B of A deceided that I had to “verify” who I was.  My cell phone is a Mexican cell, and I live in Mexico.  B of A (like IRS) won’t let you identify with a Mexican cell.  So I asked to be identified with my email.  I’ve had the same email for 12 years.  But B of A would recognize by cell phone.  They told my to telephone their US office.  Of course, this required an hour of waiting time, with constant apologies from B of A for the waiting time.

What’s the problem?  Huh?

Finally, I got in and followed B of A instructions to clear my account of old passwords.  I even changed my password.  And then – after identifying myself for my new password, I tried to get into my account, and B of A want my to verify myself (again).  And they wouldn’t send a verification code to my email!

I don’t think they want me to access my account.

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