This whole robocall thing is spiraling way out of control. I saw a stat that said there are as many as 2.4 billion robocalls each month in the U.S. alone.
Just this month I’ve been called more than 20 times by numbers that are clearly auto-generated (i.e. unable to be blocked) trying to get me to give up crucial personal information. That by itself isn’t surprising — everyone with a mobile phone has been experiencing these calls.
What is surprising is the methods these companies take and how clearly they’re able to prey on society. In that same time period, I’ve been threatened nine different times by auto-tuned voices reporting that either the IRS or the “cops” will be taking me into custody within the next 24 hours if I am found. Apparently, there are multiple arrest warrants for me in both Colorado or New Jersey (which I find very hard to believe).
The Do Not Call list doesn’t work. It’s actually a joke. As a number of articles I recently read noted, if a company doesn’t want to abide by the DNC list, it faces no no repercussions.
As mobile phones have proliferated, so has the universe of numbers for companies to call. I understand local businesses who call, like the ever-present solar installers who are always dialing for dollars, but these are supposed to be reputable and regulation-abiding. Too often, they are not. My wife is far nicer than I am when they call. She politely asks them to remove her from the list. Her way works sometimes.
Sometimes it doesn’t. A recent case in point: She told the caller for the second or third time that they need to remove her from the list. The person on the end simply laughed and said, “Well, now I’m going to make sure we call you every day.”
The real problem is, robocalls work. The elderly are the most likely to get caught in these calls, happy to talk to someone while giving away more personal information than they are aware of.
Callers are looking for obvious things like bank account information, but also such personal information as the name of your pet or your favorite vacation destination. All of these are typical password roots, which can allow them to gain access to more of your personal information, resulting in identity fraud.
The safest thing to do is not answer your phone if you don’t know who it is, but that of course leads to a very sheltered and closed-off society. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to answer the phone.
I remember when our mobile numbers were protected, and it was a personal invasion to call a number if you didn’t know the person well.
You can certainly block the numbers when they come in, but that’s a losing proposition. I have blocked more than 40 numbers to date and they still keep on coming. The black hats in telemarketing far outweigh and possibly even outsmart the white hats.
There are apps you can load onto your phone that apparently will help block it from unsolicited robocalls. In full disclosure, I’ve not tried any of them yet. These apps seem to be gaining in popularity and might end up being a viable way to help diminish robocalling.
Be wary of these calls. I am fairly certain that you aren’t wanted in New Jersey by the “cops,” and I’m pretty sure you aren’t about to have your assets seized by the IRS. If either of these are true, I highly recommend you examine your lifestyle and make some changes — because a robocall is the least of your worries.