Tired of Spam Calls? You’re Not Alone
I checked my cell phone before I started typing this story, and I had two missed calls. No voicemail left, and unrecognized numbers? Yep, it’s spam.
I wrote a story about this topic almost a year ago, and it is still my most read piece. Yet the problem is just as common today.
In some aspects, it’s even worse. I’ve seen news reports locally of elders who were scammed out of thousands of dollars. A lot of these scammers cast a wide net, hoping for someone (maybe with a little bit of a memory impairment) who can be coaxed or threatened into wiring money or mailing a check. It’s sickening.
If you haven’t lately, check in on loved ones in your life, especially elderly relatives and friends, and warn them about the signs of scams. Ideally, if you don’t recognize a number, you can let it go to voicemail, but some people still have the habit of picking up all calls.
One common scam is a phone call saying that you must send money to the IRS right away. Well, the real IRS will send you a letter, and you can call them directly to confirm any overdue taxes. They’ll give you longer than 24 hours to write a check, too.
Another scam is that someone has won a vast sum of money, but must send thousands of dollars first to cover taxes. I’ve never heard of a legitimate contest that does this. It’s super scammy.
An old scam is a phone call saying that your computer has viruses, and you need to install something to get rid of them. Please don’t install anything some random person calls you up and says you need.
Besides not picking up and engaging, what can we do to prevent nuisance calls? Right now, not much. I still haven’t seen action from telecommunications companies to stop these scam calls. The “Do Not Call” list is useless at this point.
Many calls are “spoofed,” meaning that the numbers that appear on your screen isn’t necessarily the phone number calling. A lot of spoofers will make the first three or six digits the same as your number, so it looks like a local call.
I have noticed a difference since I switched from an iPhone to an Android phone last year. The number of calls hasn’t changed, but incoming calls don’t take up the whole screen. It’s easier to screen calls or swipe them away.
The app Hiya has been helpful in blocking suspected spam, but they’ve started to charge for some features. Also, their caller ID isn’t always accurate. Sometimes when I call a local business, the wrong name shows up. It’s not a huge drawback, and I’ll continue to use the app.
What I’ve had to do is turn my phone on Do Not Disturb, but I set several numbers as priority, so I’ll hear my phone ring when they call. This can have some unexpected consequences, such as missing a call from a doctor’s office, so I wish I didn’t have to do it. But having my personal cell phone ring at work and disrupt other people, only for me to realize it’s a spam call, is annoying as well.
Some people, like job hunters or contractors, answer unfamiliar phone calls all the time, because you never know if a potential employer or customer is calling. For them, having spam calls is an even bigger nuisance.
Right now, I haven’t found a solution to the problem. Sadly, unless something radical changes, there likely won’t be a solution for awhile.