Saturday, July 27, 2019

Scams, Telemarketers, Robo-Calls

First of all, I must admit that this blog is a venting outlet for myself. There are days that I am at my wit's end with the house phone and my cell phone ringing throughout the day, not to mention my husband's also. It is so very frustrating to someone who is trying to concentrate on writing or whether I may be busy taking dogs out for their business, driving in the car for errands, cooking, napping or a kajillion other things going on, as they do in all of our lives.

There are apps, apparently, that one can purchase to stop them. The catch is that the app blocks all calls not associated to my call list of family, friends and businesses that I have on my list. Many times, a contractor or business driver uses their own phone to call me to tell me they are on their way to provide the service. I don't have that number in my call list so they would not get through to me. Not acceptable.

Even though we are on the Registry for Do Not Call with the FTC, it does no good. Let's start with the scams. The famous ones like the IRS calling to tell me that I am going to have my checks garnished if I do not pay back taxes. Really? Good luck on that one. I am retired. Or then there is the Microsoft scam whereby I am told that my computer has a terrible virus and I need to follow their instructions to get rid of it. And, I am just telling it like it is. The person on the other end of the phone tells me in a very heavy Indian accent that his name is Bob and if I will sign on, he will take over my computer to rid it of the problem. I bet he will!

Next are telemarketers. It is a real honest to goodness person on the other end of the line.

The only problem here is that I did not reach out for the call. They are trying to sell me something that I do not want or need. They are invading my privacy, as well as taking up my valuable time. Sometimes, they are not trying to sell me anything. They are some survey company wanting me to answer their questions. Let me stop right here and now to say that this is the very reason that I do not trust surveys. Companies are calling any John or Jane Doe and who is to say that they are answering truthfully or how they really feel? I do not plan on giving some stranger information on how I feel about the media, about politics, or about anything at all! It is none of their business. At least they are a live human being and you can tell them in so many words of your choice to get lost. Many of these poor, pathetic workers are reading from a script and they don't know when to stop. At that point, it is a matter of hanging up on them. At least on my cell phone, I can block their calls without an app once they have called. Of course, more just keep coming in. There is word on the street that they have the technical skills to steal phone numbers, legitimate phone numbers, to place their calls so blocking their calls just means they move on to another number to call from.

Then there are the robo-calls. They are not real people but recordings. Technology has made great advances in that they can detect tones, inflections and certain often used phrases to sound as if they are human. Try telling one to use the words, "I am not a robot." They can't. 

If you want to just stay on the line and go in circles, then that is what will happen. One of their favorite tactics is to say if you are not interested then just press 9 and we will not bother you again. (HA HA HA) If you wish to speak to a live representative just press 1 and you will be connected. I tried that, too. Once the poor guy got on, I admit that gave him a piece of my mind and I had no qualms about not being polite.

I have followed all kinds of directions. It does not seem to matter. They keep calling. Every once in a while I have answered the phone, "Sheriff's Office, How may I help you?" There always has been an immediate hang up. That is my standard go to whenever I do answer the phone. My husband, when he is in the mood, loves to mess with the caller's mind has tried other methods. One of the Microsoft scam calls, he played along. He spewed out all kind of things that was NOT happening on his screen. He gave out all kinds of false information. This went on for about ten minutes. Then he informed the scammer that he did not even have his computer turned on. Instead of hanging up the scammer actually had the audacity to tell him that he just wasted his work time. Wait! For real? That was too funny!

He has an on-going call with some dude from the local Fireman's Association. This is a for real deal because I knew of this group from a friend of mine. I answered the phone and did get some tickets for a concert for an employee who had gone above and beyond her duties at work. They were inexpensive tickets and for a rock group that she liked who were playing at the county fair. The donation went to the Firemen. All good. 

This poor guy called the next year and asked to speak to me when my husband answered the phone. My dear, sweet husband said that I was not at home. When asked when I would be home, Steve went into this long drawn out story about how should he know. He had no idea because I had run off with my boyfriend. This caller did not know what to say, yet stayed on the line to console my husband and tell him that he knew just what he was talking about. It had happened to him once. He hoped that all would work out and to this day, he still calls yearly to check if I ever returned and if Steve was okay?!

My favorite line of all is from Jerry Seinfeld. In one of his episodes of his TV show, he received a telemarketer call. He told them that he was busy but if they would give him their home number that he would call them later. Of course, that was declined and Jerry's response was something to the effect of of well then, now you know how I feel. Do not call me again at home.

The FTC has some advice for how to deal with these calls. One is to answer the call. If you don't answer or let it go to voice mail, then your number goes back on the list to call later as a no answer. Their job is to keep you on the line as long as possible. With a 96% failure rate (source FTC), they do not have an easy job. That being said, this was the job they chose, not me. The best thing is to calmly tell them that you are on the do not call registry and repeat at least three times, even if you must interrupt them, to say do not call me again.

While doing some research, I read one article where it has happened when the person disturbed by the call became angry and yelled at the telemarketer. That did not work well for him, though. The telemarketer obviously had had enough of that and actually called him back to give him a piece of his mind. That would help for reporting purposes to know the company name so that it could be reported. Good luck. If you do have the company name, there is a place to report it to the FTC through their website. I know, because I have reported one. Now that I know about it, I will be reporting more. It takes time and I don't know the outcome, however, it makes me feel better for some strange reason. 

Meanwhile, until the phone companies do something to stop this or the FTC stiffens up the fines, we the general public will continue to have these pesky calls. I like to have my plan in place and my to go to action is to answer the phone with, "Sheriff's Department. How may I direct your call?" It is an immediate hang up. If it is someone who really needs me, we all will get a good laugh out of it. He who laughs, last!

No comments:

Post a Comment