Ahhhh … Those Good Ol’ Days …

Tonight I have two posts started, but suddenly I had an aversion to writing about either politics, racism or Equifax, so instead I am taking somewhat of a detour from my usual fare.

old-phoneThere was a time, long ago and far away, that when the phone rang, I answered it.  I was nearly certain it would be someone I knew, either a friend or family member, and if it weren’t, it would be a genuinely remorseful caller who had simply dialed the wrong number.  Ahhhhh … those were the good ol’ days, weren’t they?

Then came the days of the ‘800’ numbers.  If the area code was 800, it might be for me, if I had, say, an overdue account or some other pending business outside of my state, but more than likely it was somebody trying to sell me insurance, a burial plot, or convince me to sign up for a credit card.  I’m no dummy, so I quickly learned, with the assistance of caller I.D., to disregard calls from numbers that started with 800.  Annoying, yes, but minimally so, especially since it only happened once or twice a week.

But then … then came the damn robocalls.  Calls from Florida, Michigan, California, Las Vegas … all over the country.  It didn’t take me long to develop a system to deal with these.  I simply stopped using the ‘landline’ altogether and quit taking any calls on my cell phone from callers outside my own area code unless I recognized the number.  I have voice-mail, and if it were, in fact, important, then I could call the person back.  Problem solved.

And then … those who would prefer to make their living by using technology to steal from others rather than earn their money honestly, became truly sophisticated and found ways to make their ‘robocalls’ appear to be from my own area code.  Not only that, but they are frequently very close … just a digit or two off … from my daughter’s phone number.  Now, fortunately I, too, have technology at my fingertips and I have now adopted a policy of not answering any call unless it comes from somebody on my contact list.  This means that if a little picture of somebody I know and their name does not pop up, I simply either hit ‘decline call’ or ignore it.

phone-GalaxyI also have a program that shows incoming calls on my computer, as I often do not hear my phone, and I am able to decline the call with a single mouse click. And, I have visual voice mail so that I can read any message I receive, although the robo callers rarely leave a message.  I wonder, though, what their next move to foil me will be, for I have no doubt that there will be one.

Mind you, it is all annoying and some days frustrating, but I stay one step ahead of them, and if I do on occasion absent-mindedly answer a call, I simply hang up, so I am not complaining … at least not much.  But what does concern me is the people who fall for these scams.  And let’s face it, a heck of a lot of people are falling for them, else the scammers wouldn’t still be using these tactics.

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, one such scam, where the scammer claims to be with the Internal Revenue Service and demands fees and fines, has already cost consumers $54 million!  According to the article …

“If anything, robo-calls are becoming more prevalent and more sophisticated. In their latest devilish innovation, robo-callers have been spoofing numbers in your own area code and prefix, which prompts far more people to pick up. They are also experimenting with artificial intelligence that allows the robot to hold a convincing conversation with you, as you can hear in a sample robo-call posted by Consumers Union in which the recipient tries to get the caller to admit she’s a robot.”

And they offer some good advice … some of which I was not aware of …

  • Don’t answer.
  • Don’t press buttons. Don’t try to opt out of robo-calls by using the call’s phone tree. “If you engage with the robo-caller in any way . . . it lets them know they’ve reached a live phone number. Your number is then added to a hot list.”
  • Don’t speak. If a robo-call asks you questions, don’t answer. Some robo-callers ask, “Can you hear me?” When you say yes, the scammers may use that to claim that you said yes to their product or service.
  • If you receive a robo-call, the FTC asks that you file a complaint online or by calling 888-382-1222. The agency chooses which robo-callers to go after partly based on these complaints.

There are others, and you can read the article, but these four were, I felt, the most relevant.  I was not aware of the third one, “don’t speak”.  I have, on occasion said some choice words to a robocall, but I’m pretty sure that ‘yes’ was not one of those choice words 😉.  And as  for contacting the FTC, I don’t know about you, but despite being on the ‘no call list’, I receive on average three of these calls a day, so it would be impractical for me to contact the FTC each time.

Technology … ain’t it grand?  I close with a funny story from long ago.  One day, probably in the early 1970s, I answered the phone and a female voice that sounded very familiar said, “Hi … whatch’a doing?”  Thinking it might be my friend Patsy, or some other friend, I told her whatever I was doing at the time, and we chatted amiably for about five minutes.  I was still trying to figure out who it was, and didn’t want to embarrass either of us by having to ask, when she said, “you been working out in the garden this morning?”  BAM … I knew she had the wrong number, for I not only did not have a garden, but I am known nationwide for my ‘black thumb’.  I can kill the unkillable, and plants simply commit suicide when they see me coming.  So, we ended the conversation and both agreed it had been a pleasure talking to each other.  Again … ahhhh, the good ol’ days.old-phone-2

 

39 thoughts on “Ahhhh … Those Good Ol’ Days …

  1. Yeah, I really missed those ol’ days where we didn’t afraid of answering phone calls. Now I almost never answer phone calls, because maybe 90% of them are coming from telemarketers or scammers. I just ignore them, or directly report the number to the FTC. I could read so many complaints regarding telemarketers in these past few weeks, like at http://www.whycall.me/news/consumer-wins-massive-229500-robocall-lawsuit-against-time-warner-cable/. I think there’s no advantages of having land line now.

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  2. Ah, we have a bit of a system…if it is an automated call that comes in on our mobile phones (don’t have a landline) there is usually a silent pause before it clicks in…sometimes we say nothing and the call hangs up, sometimes we answer, hello and wait… We say nothing to the caller who often doesn’t know a first name. Either way, we resister the call number as ‘sh*t’ with 1,2,3, etc for each different…with the identifier we can safely ignore calls.
    Sometimes, I’m really naughty and say no to everything.
    The latest sort of calls seem to have family noise (kids, dogs, babies) in the background. These are sales called usually…when the questions start, I answer no to everyone of them. ‘No, I am not that person, no I don’t live there, and no, I don’t have any windows in my house, and no I don’t even live in that county. By this time, the caller is so confused by his/her script not working, that they hang up mumbling some non specific apology.

    The worst call in Britain are for PPI (Personal Protection Insurance) claims. Unscrupulous lawyers hire telesales people to make blind calls to anyone who has ever had any kind of car accident or similar. They start by telling you that your recent ‘accident,’ is covered and you can make a claim. It is bogus… Lawyers trying to make you start a lawsuit on a ‘no win, no pay basis.’ These are being tackled by the government by ending the PPI claims eligibility in 2019.

    Anything from a bank should be ignored. If you think there is a problem with an account. Wait at least 10 minutes and call your bank (or a different phone) to see if there are any problems. Invariably, there will be none.

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    • I love your responses and methods! Too time-consuming, though. I just ignore or decline the calls and be done with it. 😉

      Since I ignore the calls, I get a ton of spammy email, though. Things like PayPal … looks very official, with the logo and everything … saying my account has been ‘frozen’ and to ‘click here’ to resolve the matter. I delete the email, log onto PayPal on my own, and no, there is never any problem. A few weeks ago I had one from the bank saying someone had tried to hack into my account … click here … etc. Deleted the email, called the bank, and … you guessed it … no problems. Because I take precautions, I have not lost anything, but my time is my most valuable commodity, is always in short supply, and these things are such huge time-wasters that I really resent it all. Sigh.

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  3. Ideal for grumpy misanthropes:
    1. Mobile phone rings, do not recognise number.
    2. Say ‘%**&$’ off to ringtone.
    3. Reject call.
    4.Enter number as ‘blocked’ on my mobile.
    5. Blame Thatcher’s government for allowing free-wheeling capitalism to be born.
    6. Fantasy on Socialist state where the perpetrators can be hunted down and locked away.
    7. Go back to what I was doing.

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  4. Dear Jill,
    I remember the days where we did not have cell phones. I quit one job because of this. I was a sales rep for Procter & Gamble in Minnesota where part of my territory happened to be in rural areas.One day, I was in this area when a snow blizzard started. I drove in fear the entire time and I did not have a cell phone to call for help. I left the company within a month afterwards.Access to a cell phone would have made the difference.
    I do not answer to numbers I don’t recognize. I do not answer my land line. I throw away tons of junk mail. But every now and then, I miss something important but this is so rare.
    This developing technology is what makes me question the accuracy of polls as it has to be difficult now to reach live bodies to do a survey.

    Hugs, Gronda

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    • Yes, cell phones have certainly made me feel safer when traveling, and they are a huge convenience. I would have likely quit that job too! I remember more than once being stranded and just hoping somebody would come along and take me to the nearest town, as we lived in a very rural area when my children were little and my husband was alive. A cell phone would have made a big difference. But I just wish people would put their skills and knowledge to good purposes instead of trying to steal from people. We have to be constantly on guard and I don’t like that.

      As to the polls … you are right … there is a large portion of the population, like myself, who do not answer ANY unknown call, and therefore we and our opinions are not counted. I’m not sure what the solution is, unless it is online polling, but even that would be easily abused. Sigh.

      Hugs!!!!!

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  5. I loved the answering machine with taped calls and the little message you recorded. I could just wipe out any messages I didn’t want. The robo calls hung up because there was not a live person on the line. All the new technology confuses me. I also don’t have an iPhone. Good post, Jill. 🙂 — Suzanne

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  6. oh the telephone…This article also made me think of the old days when my friends and I used to innocently prank people, before caller ID came along, or at least was widely implemented. I could tell lots of stories aobut that. lol.

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  7. Terrific post. Very timely. I had heard that one never says “yes” to the caller. But “caller ID is one technological invention that helps us out. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t pick up. If it’s someone who needs to talk to you they will leave a message. AH! Technology! The Old Days really were better, weren’t they??

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  8. Inadvertently you uncover human nature at work as it takes up technology to climb the pyramid of wealth. The time will surely come when robots will be indistinguishable from humans. Ray Kurzweil believes by 2029 robots will be able to do everything that humans do, he calls it the singularity moment. Already all the monetary transactions on the stock exchange are handled by computers. Perhaps the most bizarre advance is in the sex industry where female robotic companions are available for lonely men. Back in those Good old days I can remember Dad chopping wood with a hand axe and laying a coal fire early in the morning. Screwed up newspaper covered with crisscross sticks and carefully laid black coals. He had an old piece of cardboard to draw the blaze and you could hear it roar in the chimney. The smogs in London were soup thick in those Good old Days.

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    • Ah yes, I had read a while back that robots will be capable of doing nearly everything that humans do. But, um … the robotic companions are … no … just no. And why only female robots for lonely men? As always, women are once again forgotten 😀

      Yes, there are definitely some benefits from technology, as you point out, and you’ll get no argument from me there. But … the downsides are frightening … I do not care for the ease with which people’s money, identities, and very lives can be stolen. And … I must say that technology is making us lazy, therefore probably less healthy. But, it is a train that has left the station and will not be turning around. I just hope we can find a way to keep it on the tracks.

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      • You are quite right about women being forgotten we still live in a male dominated world, but I see nothing wrong with robotic companions for anyone, after all what is a mobile phone? a very close companion for many and the thought of separation is terrifying. Detoxification from computer games is becoming big business, perhaps we are more creatures of habit than we care to admit. As a young blood I belonged to one of London’s largest chess clubs and it was my first awareness of obsession which was sharpening its claws to devour me. I wonder if MrTrump prefers the golf course to the Whitehouse , swinging the club has an element of power and it must be directed power to get to the hole. Later I discovered working men who spent enormous sums of money following football teams around the country it’s was like a religious fervour swallowing the character ; how similar to upping sticks and going to fight for ISIS.

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        • You make some interesting points … for which I have no answers but to say that I think technology has enabled a situation where humans have entirely too much free time to engage in such things as following football teams around the nation, gambling their life savings in Vegas, and playing with their electronic gadgetry! 😀

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