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Telephone spam 
30th-Jun-2009 09:24 am
I'm quite the sucker, so spouse and I have an agreement to NOT agree to give out money over the phone. That's worked for a while, but the number of calls coming in is ramping up, and I'm getting annoyed. After getting home and hearing the phone ring while my key was in the lock, running to answer it, and having it be nobody, I am almost to the point that I'd rather let it ring, but I just can't do that yet.

Within the last week, though, I've gotten... more crotchety. I'm trying to balance my desire to be honest, my desire to not be rude, and my desire to control with whom I speak. "May I speak to mbumby?" "No you may not." Yesterday the person who called just asked "mbumby?" I said "Sorry" and was hanging up as they continued to speak.

I'm hoping that if the chaplain or my dentist calls, they'll identify themselves before asking to speak to someone. I'm hoping that the spouse & I can come to another agreement about how to handle these invaders from a unified front.

But it's not only the Verizon phones that are being called -- I recently got the following: hottyjoy897 wants to contact you on Skype
Here's their message: "howdy buddy join my cam @ let's play over here [url elided] can't wait to talk!"

Oh good. I just can't wait long enough.
30th-Jun-2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
If I don't recognize the name on the caller ID, I don't answer the phone. If its someone who actually needs me, they can leave a message and I'll call back.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:00 am (UTC)
For whatever reason I just can't listen to a phone ring. The increase in the volume may cure me of that, but ... not yet.
30th-Jun-2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
Wow. I guess we're doing pretty well then; I don't recall ever getting any calls like that. We get dead line calls, and surveys, which I sometimes do, sometimes not. And my credit card company calls once in a while trying to sell me payment insurance; I've learned in the latter case to say "no thank you" and slam the receiver down, because they won't shut up otherwise.
We don't currently pay for caller ID, because we get so few calls it's just not really worth it.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:02 am (UTC)
The home phone is now a verizon, so caller id is part of the service. We paid for it when we had the "Bell" line, and then paid the extra $5 for Privacy Manager (which usually trapped Clark's Sister and his dad) and that dropped our annoying calls to near-zero -- but now that we're away from them...
30th-Jun-2009 02:13 pm (UTC)

I've used an answering machine to screen my calls for several years. Annoys my mother no end. :-)

It's astounding the number of calls (and I'm on the Do Not Call list) where they either start jabbering as soon as they hear the recorded "Hello." or immediately hang up.

2nd-Jul-2009 03:04 am (UTC)
Heh. Being screened annoys me too. Maybe that's part of why I have such a hard time doing it.

We get our share of stupid machines leaving messages that we can only hear the end of on our answering machine. THOSE I delete as soon as I identify them for what they are.
30th-Jun-2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
It might help if you just have a script for these people. Maybe put it on a card next to the phone. The one I use is:

"I'm sorry, but I do not conduct business over the phone. Goodbye"

And already be moving to hang up as soon as you hit "goodbye", don't wait for them to stop talking because they *won't*. They are *trained* not to stop talking. Their entire purpose is to take advantage of people like you and me, who don't want to be impolite, so a defense mechanism is needed. It goes smoother if I don't have to compose a statement in my head, and I personally don't think that there is any rudeness in such a response.

We are on the federal do-not-call list, and don't actually get very many calls any more. I got burned by a couple of phone surveys (which turned out to be sales calls at the end), so surveys get the canned response too.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:07 am (UTC)
I know we _were_ on the do not call list, and I thought the spouse checked recently and all of our numbers still were. They may be people who can claim that they have a prior relationship with us. (My college, various credit card companies, folks to whom I have donated in the past...)
30th-Jun-2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
My old way of dealing with it: answer the phone "Cannibal Cafe!" Sometimes they'll just hang up on me, not being smart enough to realize I'm not a business.

My new way (haven't used it much yet) is google voice... actually has whitelist/blacklist capability, default setup sends unknown numbers directly to voicemail.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:09 am (UTC)
Heh. I have Google Voice, but figure that'll only work if that is the number they dial... (Plus, I only put my cell and my work phone onto that -- figuring that those are the places where someone can reach _me_, whereas the house phone is a place for folks who want to reach us.
5th-Jul-2009 02:49 pm (UTC) - Black lists
Just remember to structure your lists so that emergency calls can get through.

Yeah, it's impossible.
30th-Jun-2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
I let it ring. The phone spam has gotten bad enough that I let my CELLPHONE ring. (Yes, it's illegal to phone-spam cellphones, but I refuse to pay for the call in order to tell them to go away.)
2nd-Jul-2009 03:13 am (UTC)
I don't get MUCH phone-spam on _my_ cell. One or two a month. If I'm in a place where I can check who is calling, I might screen it unless I'm expecting a call. For some reason a "brrrt" on my hip doesn't give me the visceral GOTTAGETIT reaction that the "brrrrring!" does. If I'm driving or otherwise unable to take the time to check, I'll probably just answer it. And tell them it's a cell phone. And then hang up on them. Our house phone is a cell now, but it's the same number that the land line used to be, so there may be wiggle room in the law.
30th-Jun-2009 06:56 pm (UTC)

I wonder whether a disproportionate number of stalkers went to salesmanship school. The number one thing they tell these clods is that you must be persistent, that enough persistence will always get you what you want regardless of what your "target" wants, and that a "no" answer means you need to try harder.

I long ago gave up on being polite to phone spammers. There are just too damn MANY of them, enough that my politeness reserves have become finite and I need to reserve them for my actual friends, family and colleagues. I'm not unnecessarily rude; I just hang up.

Unless they're a survey. I usually take surveys. I have fun making up wild, contradictory opinions and rolling dice where 1 = "Agree Strongly", etc.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:15 am (UTC)
*snort* Don't think I could make up answers, but I'm amused by the thought. I suppose I could do it if I announced that I was rolling dice, what it came up with, and what that meant...
30th-Jun-2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Two thoughts.

I remember talking to a fan who sold books over the telephone. Their bosses had this script, you see, and they could get in trouble for not following the script...He said he really hated wasting time on someone who did not want the books, or who might order and then cancel the order. That didn't help his commissions and he felt bad about hounding the person. He said that the kindest thing you can do for someone stuck with this kind of job is to say "no thank you" and hang up. Then the salesperson can move on to the next person without harassment from the boss--they can't follow the script if you're gone.

The other thought is from a SCA friend of long ago, who listed his phone under his SCA name. If someone who didn't know him called, they would ask for "Mr. Blackmoon" and he'd immediately know it was spam, since "Mister" is not a period greeting. Thus, he felt comfortable hanging up, knowing it was not a friend or existing business contact.

I am also getting VERY tired of the phone-spam, especially the ones that are some robot wanting to speak with "you" "right away". Which "you"? Since I've gotten calls for a couple of different gentlemen recently, how do I know "you" is even someone in the house? Grrrrrr!

These calls are especially annoying when I get up out of bed or dash out of the bath to answer the phone, hoping it's someone wanting to give me a job interview!
2nd-Jul-2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Well, I'll do my best to be "gone" as quickly as possible...

I like the SCA thing. I don't think we have any "listing" now -- since the house phone is now cellular -- but one of our filters is if they ask for Mr. B. or Mrs. W. When we were buying the house, refinancing, getting insurance, or dealing with that level of professional, I had to take it, though...
30th-Jun-2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
As everyone knows, the favorite time for phone spammers is around dinnertime. And sure enough, every night between 6 and 8 pm EDT the same phone spammers ring my cellphone. (Of course it is illegal; according to a site on the internet, this particular group claims to be doing a "poll" to get around the rule.) Of course, I am in Rome right now, so this actually means it my phone rings every night between midnight at 2 am.

It is the same number, and I have never answered it; I have given it its own ringtone so as to know not to answer.

And someday I will remember to turn the phone off before I go to sleep.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:25 am (UTC)
Unfortunately they probably don't bother to listen to your voice mail message, or you could have a bit of fun with that.
5th-Jul-2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
My favorite ring tone for spammers was "no ring". When I moved to a phone where that wasn't an option, it became "silence.mp3".
1st-Jul-2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I've found that the best answer is, "Please take me off your calling list." They are required by law to do so, although they may give a disclaimer that it will take x period of time to take effect.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:27 am (UTC)
Good idea, that. Once spouse is back in this country that might well be the direction we take.
2nd-Jul-2009 10:38 am (UTC)
I've had this problem as well. I get a lot of hangup calls from charities who are obviously looking for Beth. She gave money to half the charities that called. I have no problem with letting the phone go to the fourth ring and then letting the answering machine pick up. If I don't recognize the number (and sometimes if I do) that's what I do.

I've considered doing away with the home phone altogether. Pretty much all it's good for is the alarm system and charity calls.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
I use the home system for a few things -- it's a number where C & I can be on different phones but still talking to the same person (like the FiL), it's a way for me to dial out while I'm talking to someone on the cell (did that just the other day) -- and, the downside, which I view as an upside, is that I've had the number for quite a while, so folks I haven't heard from in a dozen years very occasionally give a buzz.
3rd-Jul-2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Ah, that would make a difference. Me, I've only had this home number a year or so longer than I've had my cell #.
5th-Jul-2009 02:18 pm (UTC) - telephone spam
It's amazing that most people I know who rent an apartment get calls from roofers who want to repair their roof. People who own their home do not get these calls. Friends who are driving 15 year old beaters with 150,000 miles or more on them are getting calls saying they need to renew their warranty yesterday. People with newer cars are not getting these calls. They're hoping, I guess, to find a fool who will soon be parted with his or her money. Money is tight, but I really like my caller ID and I am getting good at letting the answering machine do its job. But I find myself standing over the phone to make sure it does its job. Guess I'm a bit neurotic that way.
11th-Jul-2009 11:41 pm (UTC) - Re: telephone spam
I think when spouse's car was only a year or so old we did get a call about renewing his warranty. My bet is that they don't know anything and are just calling _everyone_ but there are more people who do not fit the profile they _really_ want than those who do.
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