Remember when phones were a convenience?
Apparently a lot of readers are nostalgic for those earlier, simpler days. Days when there weren’t call centers and hackers the world over, all desperately trying to reach you. They have exciting news about your auto warranty! There is a mysterious $900 charge on your Amazon account! The police/IRS/Immigration/FBI have a warrant for your arrest unless you pick up the phone and send them a ton of dough via gift card!
Those are three actual calls I got this past week. And I’m not alone in these Phone Follies, readers say.
Occasionally there is something going on in my world that could increase calls from unfamiliar numbers… Reluctantly, I may gently pick up the phone and clear my voice to avoid saying “yes” or anything courteous. – Jean A.
If I don’t know the number, I don’t answer. They have the option of leaving a VM message. I’ve gotten calls from Kenya – other countries too, but Kenya is the best. LOL. Then I’ve gotten calls from the DC area code. Messages left. Foreign accent. Message says that if I don’t respond to a particular number, the authorities will show up at my door and arrest me. Boy, am I ever tempted to “play”. I am on the Do Not Call registry. Still, they call. I block spam numbers. Still they call – Vicki
If I get a unwanted call I just pick up the phone and say the word NOOOO. and hang up. Ah peace.- Cookieu71
Some folks, like AnneJ use Nomorobo. Many others, like Steven G., rose W., and Claudia N., to name a few, use the phone’s Caller ID as a screening device and don’t pick up unless the number is familiar.
However, one reader got a weird new phone folly – a strange text.
Last week I received a strange text asking if Savi was available to watch her cat. I told the texter that they’d reached the incorrect number, no Savi here. Texter apologized and said her name was Mary from Malaysia, 34 years old, now living in New York. She asked if I wanted to exchange photos and be friends, saying it’s fun to make new friends. I checked her area code, which was from Los Angeles, and decided this was fishy. I blocked her number. I’m not that desparate for friends. – Susan
Thanks for sharing, Susan, but please ignore strange texts as you would a strange caller ID phone call. Debra here knows the score:
If they are legit, they will leave a message, dont answer unknown callers. I see some have started using bogus text messages. beware of these, delete. Its a wild world. Be safe. Double check. – debra s.
Of all the ways to handle this plague, I’like Cheryl’s the best.
It doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I usually just egg them on or laugh at them very loudly. Since I’m retired I am more tolerant of pests.- cheryl
Of course, nothing can top this guy’s solution, which is pure genius.
We’ll keep this post up for a while so you can share your ‘phone folly” in the comments. The original column is below:
When I turned 60 I stopped answering the phone.
There’s something about turning 60 that sends a message to every grifter, malcontent, con artist, call center employee and hacker that tells them I am in prime scamming position. It must be like that big board in the John Wick movies, with the countdown clock to when Wick is up for grabs.
Failed Phone Follies…
So, after one call too many telling me my auto warranty is expiring (don’t have a car), or warning me the IRS is waiting downstairs in a tank to arrest me (um, no), or that my grandson is in jail in Tijuana (no kids) I stopped answering the phone unless I knew the number.
At that point, I picture the big board message saying “She’s on to us” and con artists switching to spoofing numbers for banks, brokerage firms, insurers, Medicare, and utilities. There was even one exciting spoofed call that looked like it came from….me. A breakthrough in quantum physics! I regret not picking up the phone to see how I was doing.
…And a close shave
Every so often a message slips past the goalie and I pick up. One seemed legit from my bank and I almost got scammed. (That guy was good, but I remembered all that advice from AARP and called the bank directly.) And I once listened to a voice mail from the “IRS” that was so scary and convincing that I had to go for a walk to calm down.
Beware the New Phone Folly
It seems that just when I think I’ve got it sorted, they come up with a new wrinkle. This one is the Mystery Call.
I’ve been getting calls that don’t register on Caller ID at all. It just rings and rings and goes silent. That’s some kind of psychological mischief, because I look at the phone and wonder if it’s Meals On Wheels using a phone with a call blocking feature, or someone calling me back and deciding last minute “The hell with her!” and hanging up or… what?
I really hope it doesn’t catch on, because with no number and no message, it’s guaranteed to drive me crazy.
But how about you? What is the latest Phone Folly that’s been driving you crazy? Let us know in the comments!
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send Open Thread suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.