Why Can’t We Stop These Damn Robo Calls?
I’ve had three so far today and I’m writing this at 2:07 in the afternoon, so there’s plenty of time for one or two more. The first call came at 5:04 this morning. It was a recorded male voice, speaking in an urgent tone, telling me that my personal and confidential data had been compromised and I should press one to speak to an agent from the Internal Revenue Service in order to avoid severe penalties.
Nothing about that call was unusual. Not even the pre-dawn hour. Sometimes even legitimate businesses and organizations call in the pre-dawn hours because when it’s 10:00 a.m. in Boston, Hawaiian standard time is six hours earlier in the summer months. Certainly it’s not beyond the capability of these scammers to determine from my area code that I’m probably not sucker material if I’m called before sunrise and awakened from a sound sleep. They simply don’t care. For them, it’s purely a numbers game.
I know it’s not the best approach, but I handle these calls differently . . . impulsively. It depends on what I’m doing at the time. With some, I hang up immediately. With others, I string them along, faking interest in their scam, then suddenly switch to a very stern and official tone and say, “OK, that’s sufficient time for our electronic gear to have traced this call. You are in violation of section 143 of the penal code and officers are on their way to your location as we speak.”
Didn’t Congress and the FCC take steps to reduce the number of these calls that ordinary folks like me get several times a day? And I seem to remember putting our name on a “Do Not Call” list.
Well, folks . . . It ain’t working!
Surely everyone—Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike—must be getting these damn calls. Why can’t we put them out of business?
Best guess at answering my own question: because the people behind these calls are making hefty contributions to key politicians . . . key committee chairs who decide whether or not any given issue will even be discussed, let alone become the subject of restrictive legislation.
Until we start limiting political contributions or, at the very least, making all contributions public, military contractors will continue to build weapons that cost too much and don’t work; and Medicare won’t be allowed to negotiate drug prices with the giant pharmaceutical companies; and my phone will ring at 4:52 in the morning and it will be someone trying to get me to give him my account number at Bank of Hawaii.
Would you believe my robo call program is heavily restricted when I blast emails out because I’m supporting a very few politicians? Would you believe it allows me to blast emails only to liberals and only between 4 and 6 a.m?
Seriously, the two things I do to try to relieve the aggravation of unwanted calls – both robo and live – is to adjust my phone so it rings only twice (that’s less intrusive) and then I absolutely don’t answer any calls from numbers I don’t recognize. Sometimes the ID name can appear familiar but I can tell the accompanying number is fake (you see, the spoofers try to make me think it’s an incoming local call).
Anyway, my hopes are if I don’t answer it and the caller just keeps getting my outgoing announcement urging them to leave a message, maybe they’ll think it’s not a working number and take me off their list.
Yes, both the FTC and the FCC have regulations that apply here, such as the ‘do not call’ list. (The FCC has authority over cell phone (wireless) calls because they use over-the-air radio spectrum. So, theoretically, it’s a more serious violation to send an unwanted and unsolicited to a cell phone than a landline.
I’ve had a Federal attorney tell me the reason these calls get through is they come from Africa and the middle east beyond the reach of US Federal authorities.