Please, Not the Phone Again
One Woman’s Opinion
by – Sheri de Grom
Could there be a drone hovering outside my window or even doing a fly-over of my home? Instead of it being a delivery from Amazon, the drone will be collecting information robocallers might find useful when they call our number and the tranquility of our day is pierced.
The robocallers who continue to call day after day include: telemarketers, survey-takers, politicians, charities, scammers and many others.
Legislation has passed protecting cell phones but it’s open season for land lines. We occasionally receive an unsolicited cell phone text message but somehow that doesn’t offend me as much. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already made the decision, when I elect to pick up my cell phone, that the messages are simple to delete without ever opening them.
As difficult as it is for some of my friends to understand, I go days on end without answering my cell phone. I don’t carry it around with me in the house and the only time I make sure it is charged is when I go out and about. My theory is that if someone knows me, they’ll call the land line.
An advantage of moving so often with my career is that I don’t remember robocallers and I’m positive I would have. The many times I needed to be available for my work and Tom’s medical care during those years, I’ve never thought twice about answering the phone.
I believe I’ve taken every step necessary to stop the robocalls to our land line. I’ve placed us on the ‘donotcall.gov’ list more times than I can remember. A handful of states prohibits or restricts political robocalls. However, political groups need your permission to call your land line.
Political campaigns often get phone numbers from voter-registration rolls. A not-for-profit group in DC, the Citizens for Civil Discourse, has several suggestions for avoiding telephone intrusion. One suggestion seems so simple. Many of us automatically include our telephone number and e-mail address, out of habit, when we register to vote. Yet, only your street address is required by law.
I’ve heard many individuals talk about changing their political party affiliations for the upcoming elections. I’m included in that group and will be registering as an ‘Independent.’ I’ll know not to include my phone number or e-mail when I complete my new registration. Of course, my information is available from any number of public sources and not difficult to obtain.
If you don’t want to be bothered by excessive political/campaign robocalls, you can always call the politicians campaign headquarters and say, ‘If you robocall me, I will not vote for you.’
You can also add your name to the National Political Do Not Contact Registry (stoppoliticalcalls.org). This is a not-for-profit organization.
For several months I’ve simply screened calls but, I’m tired of having unwanted and unasked intruders into our home. I now answer calls but quickly write the incoming phone number down before I answer it. If the robocaller gives me an opportunity to press a number to indicate I want to be taken off their call list I do so. If they persist, I add the number to a growing list I have to report to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also report repeat offenders to your State’s Attorney General Office.
The information you must collect to file a valid complaint includes: telephone number of the caller (now that robocallers are using throw-away phones this is becoming more difficult. Additionally, many of the calls will appear on your screen as blocked numbers. We have a policy in our home that we never answer a blocked number.
To file the complaint you’ll need the time of day the phone call came into your home, an approximate number of times the caller has previously called you and of course, the topic of the conversation. The more details you remember, the better. Beware of the following:
- Unsolicited telephone calls that try to part you from your money.
- A robocall from a company you’ve never heard of offers you a great insurance rate or a low-interest loan. Such pitches are illegal and probably fraudulent.
- Beware of companies offering consolidation of your debts. Many not-for-profits now provide this service and they provide a statement each month detailing how much was paid to each of their credit-holders. The non-profit organization insures you will continue to receive monthly statements from your account-holders. Thus, you maintain a checks and balances.
The not-for-profit does all of the negotiating with the creditors.
However, if an organization approaches you by way of telephone or other means of communication, claiming to be a not-for-profit organization, you must investigate their not-for-profit status and speak with client references.
- Beware of any insurance company or medical supply house that has obtained personal information about you. (Many businesses now pay custom firms for individualized data per individual and the caller knows more about you than you can imagine when they make the call to your home). Had I agreed with any number of different companies, I’d be paying hundreds of dollars each month for diabetic supplies. Instead, my health insurance covers 100% of my supplies at a local independent pharmacy.
- Currently three fraud alerts have been issued about two different scams. One is for a dental protection plan that covers a minimum of 50% off your dental bill before it’s ever submitted to any insurance you have. Approach this call with caution. They frequently use a local cell number that can’t be called back.
- The second ‘beware of’ is the call that begins with a voice saying words to the effect of, “This is the FBI and we’re receiving a record number of break-ins in your area.” This ruse is being used by someone who wants you to tell them about the risk factors at your address, etc.
- The third and most infuriating to me is the local cell number beginning with the caller asking you to press 1 on your telephone keypad so they may make a delivery of two medical alert devices. They use the standard line that someone else (possibly a friend or family member) has already paid for the devices. The last time I answered, I interrupted the caller many times and asked who had paid for the life alert devices and the caller continued reading his script until I hung up.
Can you imagine what a chain of events any of the scammers could put into place if I agreed with anything they had to offer?
Most days I’m content to screen calls but that’s not an option when my husband’s sleeping. I’ll grab the phone immediately in the hopes the sound doesn’t wake Tom.
How about it? Do you have methods to get rid of these pesky robocallers once and for all?