As great as technology has been for phone calls, it’s also been a strain on it. It’s great to be able to get phone calls not just on landlines but on mobile phones that we can keep with us at all times, but it also increases our chances of getting unwanted spam and scam calls.
While one is annoying, the other can be quite harmful. No one wants to be inundated with relentless spam calls, yet scam calls can lead you to be phished, where you have the possibility of losing a lot of money if you fall into the scam.
How do you deal with spam and scam calls?
Sayak gets the most unwanted calls on the phone he uses to register for banks, credit cards, social media accounts, and advertisers. Since it’s not a phone he really uses, “it’s always in silent mode and charging.” He checks the message once a week and finds a large call history. He just does “Select All + Delete.” For the phones he uses personally, and the number he promises to share with us, he uses TrueCaller that boasts the largest registry of phone numbers and blocks Robocalls immediately.
As soon as Phil recognizes a spam call, he has “no compunction about hanging up right away,” yet prefaces it by telling them it’s a private number and not to call again. He has more difficulty was his father’s phone number who has dementia. He rarely uses his landline other than to call out, so Phil blocked any numbers he identified as spam. Eventually, though, he just ended up disabling the ringer. To help block that on his mobile phone, he plans to change his father’s number every six months.
Simon tries to go the “polite route” with unwanted calls because he read on a site a few years back that hanging up doesn’t take you off the list, and they just try again later. He tries to show the callers that he’s not interested so that they’ll take him off the list but realizes that could be naive.
He had a scam call of someone trying to sell him a method of “making money at home doing nothing.” When he declined the offer, they wanted to know why he “didn’t want to make more money.”
Ryan has lived in Australia for the past nine years and gets a spam call only about once a year yet realizes how rampant the problem is when he visits his family back in the United States. He feels like the majority of calls they get on their mobile phones are spam. He’s read there are apps that can help mitigate that amount but knows it doesn’t stop them completely. He feels the only course of action is to report unwanted texts and calls to the FCC.
Andrew says it’s been a long time since he had to deal with a scam call since he changes countries and phone numbers often. If he does get a scam call, it tends to be in another language, and he can’t really understand it. On the rare occasion he gets them, he either hangs up or lets them know he’s onto them and then hangs up.
Alex notes the FCC does need to “crack down on these calls”. Spam calls on his cell phone have “ruined the integrity of the phone communications network” for him because it’s that serious. He compares it to 1996 when half the email you received was the laziest possible spam. Routinely getting client calls, he feels forced to answer, not knowing if it’s a client or spam. When greeted with a spam call, he finds it “frustrating and embittering.”
He started to use an app, “RoboKiller,” that costs a few bucks a month but blocks spam calls with simple heuristics. While it’s not flawless, it does mean he can trust his ringtone again. However, he finds the government is failing at keeping the networks functional with regards to this.
The very day I was writing up this article, my dad received a scam call. Like Phil’s dad, he’s also dealing with some dementia. He got off the phone and said, “Huh, someone must have called and said we needed some work done on the computer.” I explained it was a scam He surmised, possibly correctly, that they got his number from a list of people who just passed away, as my mother passed a few weeks back. He figured the scammers think they can fool the widow/widower into believing the deceased had called to get the computer fixed.
How I am going to fix this for him? I have no idea. Although my sister wrote down a list of directions explaining phishing calls and placed it next to the phone, with the hopes he’ll remember not to give out his banking details to unknown callers.
Are you bothered by unwanted calls? Do you just politely end the call? Do you use an app to handle the calls? How do you deal with them? How do you deal with spam and scam calls? Let us know your methods in the comments section below.