You know what they say – January is the worst month of the year. You’re fat and broke from the holidays, paler than ever and it’s so cold you can’t feel your face when you walk outside.
All that said, it’s a new year and I want to rid my life of something right away – the unwanted sales or scam call. I receive these calls on my home phone and now unbelievably on my cell phone, too, and continue to wonder, how did they get my cell number?
You know what this is. It’s the call where there’s no one there when you pick up the phone or even worse, someone begins to sell you something or try to scam you out of your credit card or money in your checking account.
As I have mentioned in the past, there must be 1,000 scams and I apparently seem like a good target since they call me regularly. First, if it’s on my cell phone, I know that I can block the caller and I’m hoping to be more vigilant and get this done, so that particular person can’t call me again. But there has to be thousands of these people. Can I be successful in blocking all of them?
I am on the “do not call” list for cell phones and my home phone, but have learned recently that many companies do not care about this and they just go right ahead and make the call. My research on how this system really works showed that the reason callers don’t care about the do not call list is they are overseas and beyond the reach of the Federal Trade Commission). Others within reach of this authority just come back to action in a new venue.
According to the FTC, Robo calls, ones generated by a computer, are illegal unless the consumer has first given his express permission in writing to receive them. Who would do that?
This was quite a surprise to me because they can peddle fraudulent services that can cause significant economic harm.
Also, I understand the FTC has announced a challenge, offering $50,000 in prizes to the private sector innovators who come up with ways to block such calls. Oh, that would be so nice.
When a Robo or fully automated call comes in, it works this way. If the system is ready, it will ring a second time and when you pick it up you will hear someone speaking to you live or recorded. If it’s not ready after that first ring, the call will be eliminated. So that is why sometimes the phone will only ring once. The system wasn’t ready – lucky you.
Some people have been very inventive while trying to get rid of these callers, such as the man
from Texas. Wait until you hear what he does. I think I love this guy already.
As the phone solicitor begins, this Texan says things like, tell me more and give me all the details and from that point on his goal is to keep this pitchman on the line as long as possible. If asked for a credit card to complete the process he gives him a false number and then sits back and waits while the guy tries to confirm it. When it can’t be confirmed he transposes a few more numbers and resubmits, then sits back again while the guy struggles to approve it. He will even continue this process a third time, transposing more digits and eventually when nothing happens and he’s tied the guy up for 15 or 20 minutes, he invites him to call again the next day so they can try another time.
Obviously, this process is for someone who has time to kill, but it also must frustrate the person making a call.
Another guy I really like is one from Glendale, California, who tells the caller after the pitch that he needs to get a pen and paper and then he disappears from the phone a bit. When he returns he says that he needs to go get his wallet in the other room and then that darn wallet must be in the car. Can you hold on a minute while I get it? He claims that he’s never gotten to the 30 minute mark, but he has broken 20 minutes. Telemarketers don’t want to waste their time and hopefully these people will deter them from calling again, and the marketer won’t want to make the same mistake.
One other trick I’ve read about, but have not tested, is that while you are on the phone with one of these people trying to sell you something or scam you out of your money, press nine and that will put you on the companies do not call list. It may work and it doesn’t hurt to try it. Of course, we have already learned they may ignore that anyway. Wish me good luck as I try to rid my life of these callers.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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