What to Do about Robo Phone Calls

Spam calls are epidemic these days. Not even being on a ‘do not call’ list helps any longer. So what are some of the common scams and what can you do about them?

Common spam calls include:

  1. You are entitled to a two week vacation with Marriott, in return for being a loyal customer
  2. Due to the pandemic, your credit card company is reducing your interest rate to 0%
  3. You forgot to extend your extended car warranty, but we can take care of that for you

How do you know you’re getting a spam call? Here are some tips:

  1. They start with a recording that then promises to hook you up with a ‘representative’
  2. The person you speak to has a heavy accent and is obviously in a room with a lot of other callers
  3. They claim to be with some vague company like ‘credit division of Visa/Mastercard’ and when you ask exactly what company they are with, they can’t answer
  4. If you ask for a website, you will find that they do have a website! So be wary of that one
  5. You ask to call back and they claim to have no phone number
  6. They impose urgency on the action they want you to take
  7. The call may be from your area code, but your phone will not identify the “business” on the other end

What to do about these annoying calls? Unfortunately, nothing will stop them as yet, which is a bit amazing to me. We can fly to the moon at will but we can’t stop this? First on the list should be a letter to your Congressional representative and your phone company complaining about the situation. Making yourself heard can’t hurt. This is something the phone companies could fix; they choose not to because it’s expensive.

After you mail your letters, you can employ several other tactics:

  1. You can use one of several apps to filter spam. I use HiYa which at least filters out some callers, but certainly not all
  2. Use your phone’s call blocking feature. This isn’t of much use since spammers typically change numbers constantly
  3. Restrict your phone so it will accept calls only from your contact list. However that’s going to prevent you from getting a call from the delivery guy who is trying to figure out which driveway is yours
  4. If you are with Verizon, here is some help: https://www.verizon.com/about/responsibility/robocalls
  5. If you are with AT&T, use Call Protect. Information is here:  https://www.att.com/help/robocalling/

Then there are the non traditional ways of dealing with scammers. Remembering that none of these tactics will stop robocallers, perhaps you should have some fun. In one recent “two week vacation” call, I kept my robocaller on the line for a good 20 minutes while I was on my exercise walk. I claimed to dislike islands, then I didn’t like the sun at all, then I wasn’t sure I could be gone for two weeks, then I couldn’t remember what my location choices were, then I needed a two bedroom unit because my husband snores, then I wasn’t sure what he said about airfare again? then I asked if this was a timeshare, then I asked if I could take the vacation next year instead, then I asked him to repeat the terms again, and finally I asked him to send all the information through the mail because it was my husband who actually would make this decision. Of course that was a “no go”, and I hung up laughing.

Another fun tactic is to play deaf. “Ma’am, Marriott would like to offer you your choice of locations for a two week vacation!” “This is a great nation? Yes indeedy it is! Thank you, yes!” “No, ma’am, a two week VACATION!” “Oh so sorry I don’t hear so well, did you want to talk to me about the Haitians?” “NO! VACATION, VACATION!” “Oh yes, I had a nice vacation, thank you for asking! Now what is it you wanted?” Click.