As you know, I’ve been battling an increase in telephone solicitation calls, including scammers, spammers and slammers. They use spoofed phone numbers to trick people into thinking it’s a local call, or they wait until you answer and then they hang up, which confirms that you’re a real person and would like oodles of cold calls.
The most recent one I’ve received -a recorded message to sign up for some super-powerful health care program that works with various insurance providers – comes from a 415 area code, with a 200 prefix and four random numbers for the suffix. It’s the same message. I see the number and immediately send the call to voicemail, where I get a recorded message that clogs my voicemail queue. Classy.
The struggle is ongoing, friends.
But I may have picked up an ally in the fight.
An ally named Barbara Underwood.
Barbara Underwood is the current New York State Attorney General, and she has joined with several other Attorneys General in an effort to demand that service providers do more in blocking these robocalls and scammers.
As much as I appreciate what you’re trying to achieve, Attorney General Underwood, I can tell you it won’t be an easy goal to reach. These scammers don’t care about regulations. All they care about is how to get money from customers. Bogus car extended warranty programs. Faux threats of tax money owed to the IRS. Specious timeshare programs and promises of four-star hotel accommodations where the final result is a dingy no-tell motel where the cockroaches double as bellhops.
And honestly, the telecommunications companies really don’t give a busy signal about their customers, so long as the customers pay their monthly bills, which is all the telecommunications companies really want.
In fact, I’ll make a bet with you. Call your local cell phone provider, and tell them that you’ve been receiving these harassing phone calls and you want them to stop. I bet that the phone company representative will say to you, “Oh yes, I get them on my personal phone as well, I understand your struggle,” or words to that effect. They will then offer to have your number changed so that the robocallers can’t find you.
You know what that’s like? That’s like someone beating you up and bullying you in school, and the school administrators solving the problem by transferring you out of the district.
Besides, the head of the FCC is Ajit Pai, a Trump appointee who helped get rid of net neutrality. So why should he care about supporting hardworking telephone customers like you and me?
And the Do Not Call Registry? I’ve been on that thing for nearly twelve years. Robocallers and scammers and spambots don’t care about that. Not when they call you from untraceable VoIP software and use spoofing programs to fudge Caller ID results. They may as well put on ski masks and black gloves and rob a jewelry store, it’s the same thing.
So if Attorney General Underwood can get the robocallers and scammers to go away – it would be a wonderful thing. It truly would.
Part of me wonders, though … if it will ever happen.
Because right now, I’m feeling like one of Pavlov’s dogs when it comes to these phone-scammers.
And if you’re not familiar with Pavlov’s dogs – Pavlov put dogs in an electrified cage and added electrical shock current to the cage bars. The dogs would jump and scream and wail when the shocks came through … but eventually, the dogs would just lay down on the cage floor and take the shocks as a sign of inevitability.
And right now … those shocks are feeling rather inevitable.
Make the shocks stop, please.