Automated calls revisited | Wiscasset Journal



The other day I mentioned that I had been honked by robocalls looking to take the strain off my wallet – and your family bank account.

My buddies and I are old buddies who don’t want to be bothered by phone calls sent to East Boothbay by an R2D2 robot living somewhere west of Mars.

But, Mr. Old News Guy, the numbers are 207-633-XXXX. Could it be from a local phone?

Yes it could, Grasshopper. And it could also be the robot from Mars.

For more information, I went online to find the phone number for Verizon, the phone company I send a big check to every month for old-fashioned landline service. There were about a dozen sites called tech support but no phone numbers. The only one I could find was a Verizon store in Thomaston. I dialed it, and this guy told me to call 611. I asked 611 what? He just said 611.

So that’s what I called, and a Spectrum computer voice answered. After closing in with this robot for about four minutes, it put me in touch with a real human who said he knew robocalls were a problem for the customer. They were also a problem for them, and that’s why they put a feature on my phone called “Call Guard” labeling possible robocalls with the label “Possible Spam”.

What should I do when I see the words possible spam on the phone, I asked. Don’t answer, he said. Write down the number and let us know.

How would I know it was a fake local call? Sometimes Caller ID indicates that it is local. Well, he said. This is called “Spoofing”, where they put a fake local call number because it makes people think it is a real call and tend to take it.

Alright, I said. But how do you know if the number is a real number? “We don’t know,” he said.

I guess that’s a problem for most of the United States. That’s why Gail Collins wrote about it in The New York Times last week. She said a call blocking company called YouMail said Americans received 4.4 billion automated calls in June. She explained that the federal government tried to do something about this in 2003 when they released the do not call list. But it was ineffective. The same is true of the Congress Telephone Consumer Protection Act 1991. It also didn’t work when the Supreme Court said no one needed your permission to put your phone number on an automatic dialer.

Ironically, Collins said she received two robocalls while writing her article on robocalls. One was from “Dave”, who wanted money for “veterans”, and another from a robot who wanted to know if she had fallen ill after taking Xanax.

Most of these calls require you to press “1” to connect to someone who will ask for your Medicaid number, your bank account number routing number, or your credit card number. Don’t bite that one.

In the latest issue of AARP magazine, Doug Shadel talks about another phone scam where someone called “Becky from Medicare” calls to offer genetic cancer screening. “If you don’t act quickly”… blah blah blah. All you have to do is press “1”. This appeal was sent to approximately one million people. And they said don’t check with your family doctor. It focuses on your health, and we focus on your genes. OKAY?

Just give us your Medicaid number, she said.

But, I wondered, if it was really “Becky from Medicaid,” wouldn’t she already have your Medicaid number on her computer?

The FCC is trying a new tactic. They have ordered phone companies to check when they travel over the network to your home. They are supposed to use technology known as Stir / Shaken. Don’t ask what the name stands for. It’s a bunch of bureaucratic gibberish.

Telephone companies must comply by September 28. But I wouldn’t keep them on that date.

When I can get away with our home, I let the calls go to the answering machine. They usually hang up.

But after talking to the guy from Spectrum, I got a call titled “Spam” and let it go to the answering machine.

It was a Robocall pretending to be from Spectrum. He wanted to ask me a few questions about my recent conversation with their call center technician.

For your information, the new location of the small St. Andrews Auxiliary Thrift Shop is scheduled to open on Saturday August 7th. Don’t miss it.



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