As a sexagenarian, yours truly is quite capable of handling new technology. Can I stop Robocalls? Yes, but we do tend to get frustrated at how to do it but somehow we manage to survive and get along with the world just fine.
What really gets my blood boiling, is the number of calls from everyone in the world that I don’t know. The robocalls! Just when I thought it was bad, my spouse tells me that she averages at least 20 calls a day and was begging me to answer the question. The short answer is yes, and no. It won’t be a cure-all but at least the various solutions can help to ebb the number of calls that cause interruptions in your daily life.
For this post, we are going to take a look at the options available to you to put this problem closer to the back burner while life carries on in an organized and fruitful manner.
Just Too Easy – The Profit Maker
Before we start to look at the solutions, one must understand the process as to why robocalls calling have become so prevalent. It’s all about the money! It’s smart marketing, once you put aside the dark side (scammer and rip off artists) of this business. To a corporation, the cost-effectiveness to gain new customers (or returning ones) and make new or recurring sales is just part of doing business and it can be very profitable. The telemarketing firms can also make a very nice profit themselves. So this just makes good common sense from an economic standpoint.
Sure, the critics and various government entities will tell you more about the cons than they will about what positive effects this type of marketing can have on the economy. Last year (2017), citizens were duped into paying out $9.5 billion, yes that is B-I-L-L-I-O-N to the unsavory con artists. That is unfortunate to any individual’s bottom line but at the same time, how much was generated in legitimate sales for the many corporations?
- 1967 – Ford trains 15,000 housewives to make 1 million calls per day to gather sales leads
- 1976 – The above campaign results in $24 million in sales from generated leads
- 1996 – 304,000 employed telemarketers, $425 Billion total revenue ($186 Billion in sales to consumers, $238 Billion in sales from business-to-business)
- 2002 – $200 Billion generated by U.S. companies in sales to the consumers
- Telemarketing tools and techniques show huge improvements
- Laws implemented to attempt to control the vastly growing number of calls made to consumers and what they can/can’t say and when.
- Do Not Call Registry is put into effect. (Oct, 2003) with varying results.
- The latest technology makes it inexpensive for companies to hire telemarketing companies.
A quick search of the internet reveals numerous businesses ready and willing to make the robocalls for you (even private citizens) for reasonable rate plans. Reputable companies have policies in place regarding their clientele, but then again, not everyone is reputable. It just too easy!
When you look at the numbers, the positive effect on the economy can become staggering, somewhere in the stratosphere of dollars and at the same time, it is just a mere pinch of the overall picture regarding our economy. This equates to a very positive outlook for employment for both the call centers, equipment providers and the various corporations requesting the services.
Let It Ring 3 Times – Don’t Answer The Phone
Of the 2 options stated above this sentence, which would you consider the better of the two? In reality, the second option seems to win hands down every time. No name, just a number, are they from your area (spoofing) or just some number from anywhere? Watch out for those +1 numbers. Should you answer? Some experts will tell you that yes you can, but, don’t make a sound, don’t say anything. Just let the phone sit there as if you are a blank recording yourself. So why even bother to answer at all.
So who is responsible for letting all these types of robocalls (marketing, scam, etc…) come through to your number? Seems that the National Do Not Call List (USA) just doesn’t mean anything to corporations and small companies but mostly to the criminals that wish to turn your life upside down for a while. What types of enforcement are there to make them really stop from harassing you. Apparently, those laws seem rather weak at best.
Sales, services, promotions, political, religion, everyone needs to get their word out. Unfortunately, so do the scammers. If you are the owner of a phone, they will find you. How many times have you been threatened to be jailed ( or the sheriff is on the way now) because they tell you that you owe someone?
A lot of times you only get a partial recording or one that is so garbled that it makes no sense at all, and to your dismay, the disruption in your daily life has already occurred. So let’s take a look at how one can protect themselves from not only the bothersome legit telemarketers, but from the not so savory types that would love nothing more than to harass you and steal your information.
It starts with you and how you handle your sensitive information. One slip up and your life can be turned upside down in a heartbeat.
Privacy Matters – XXX-XX-XXXX
Can I stop robocalls? To answer that, one must think in terms of which types of information are being sought and given out, not only to legit callers, but more cautiously, the scammers. If you didn’t initiate the call, don’t give it out. Unless you know the person on the other end very well, (chances are that you don’t) why would anyone give out sensitive information. How does one get duped into providing a complete stranger with such information.
With nearly 5 billion cell phones in the world today, chances are that someone is going to get what they want and it won’t be to your benefit. When dealing with robocalls and scammers, in the U.S. alone, the numbers are increasing to about 60% over the previous years. Are you part of the 1 in 10 ratios that lost money? For those that get duped, the numbers average just over $400.00 and when you multiply that by the population, Bingo! Eureka, someone is getting richer on your dime.
One of the problems seen is that they call so often, that when you have had enough the chances are that you will actually answer in hopes to tell them off or just to have a glimmer of hope that they won’t call you again when you turn down their offer. Big mistake! This will only tell them it is a live line and put it back into the cue for another round from them or someone new.
It’s Not Just Phones – Computers, Data Breaches, etc…
In today’s world of technology, one does not even have to be present to be a victim. It is bad enough that we deal with robocalls, but when you tack on all the other methods that everyone is trying to get your information, no one is safe anymore. Scam posts on social media, databases hacked with information that can ruin not only corporations, but you, the victims, in the blink of an eye.
Protecting information is of the utmost importance and keeping it protected has become a cat and mouse game for hackers trying to get it and corporations trying to prevent breaches of their own databases.
Just like the telephone, the faces are blank. You will never know who just did what to whom. A faceless crime, a burdened victim.
It is just a shame that the information that is sought is so easily found by hackers. Scammers, on the other hand, have to work a little harder to get what they want. Too bad, because if they can con a victim whom they don’t know, how would they do at a legit sales job? Is it worth their time?
In America, your social security number can be your best friend and yet, the worst enemy to have, as everything seems to be tied to it. There ought to be a better way to live life without having to rely on just one number set.
What Are You Worth – The Black Market
Hacker services price Social Security numbers (sold as part of ‘Fullz’ dossier) $30. Date of births $11, Health insurance credentials $20, Visa or MasterCard credentials $4, American Express credentials $7, Discover credit credentials $8, Credit card with magnetic stripe or chip data $12, Bank account number (balance of $70,000 to $150,000) $300 or less, Full Identity ‘Kitz ’$1,200 to $1,300
Source: Dell SecureWorks
The information in the table above is from 2015 and by now, those numbers will have most likely changed. There are other types of information that have price tags too so let’s look at a few others.
- Online Payment login info – up to $200
- Credit/debit cards – $5 to $100.00 +
- Drivers license – $20
- Loyalty accounts – $20
- Diplomas – up to $400
- Passports – $1000 to $2000
- Medical records – up to $1000
Those are just some items that scam artists look forward to getting from you. Other types of information sought can be very simple stuff and not seem so innocuous to a person, but to a pro, it’s all about the money.
- Spotify, Hulu, Netflix accounts
- Any PINs (beware of shoulder surfers)
- Expiration dates and cvv numbers on the back of the bank card(s)
- Your full name
- Date and place of birth
- Mobile phones
So what was thought to be something so simple can turn your life upside down regardless of the source.
31 Billion Calls – More To Come
2017 was a very good year for robocalls (telemarketers). Not a single phone number in America, Canada and more was left untouched. Why? Better technology, higher marketing goals, more proficient scammers. Not all activity is illegal but once again, you mostly just hear about the dark side.
Will we see a cessation to these types of calls? Chances are slim.
With more companies using a technique called “social engineering”, those calls appear to be coming right from your own backyard (city or town) and the chances are that you will pick up the phone and answer it until you find out that it’s just another one of those calls. Guess what? Too late! You answered the phone so your number goes right back into the barrel for some else to pick out for their shot at you.
In 2016 alone, 6% of the population was defrauded by the use of “social engineering” with an average loss of $260.00 per scammed victim. What about the other 94%? Again, no one seems to want to talk about the good side of this issue as it is viewed as part of our economic engine that is fired up and roaring.
There’s An App For That – Too Little? Too Late?
So let’s take a look at some of the apps out there that can attempt to quelch the number of calls you are receiving. These are geared towards cell phones as they have become more prevalent in today’s world of communications.
NOMOROBO: This simple app is easy to set up and only needs to be done one time. Features an on/off selection. There is no cost for VoIP landlines. For iPhone and Android, there is a low-cost fee of $1.99 per device/ per month.
ROBOKILLER: Another easy app for your use which claims that they can reduce the number of robocalls by up to 90% in 30 days. This app uses answer bots to waste the robocalls time so you don’t have to waste yours. Modern technology enables the use of fingerprinting to recognize voice patterns of unwanted callers and then adding them to the block list. Spoofing protection and personal block/allows you more control. Cost: $2.49 per month and currently works on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, C Spire, Cricket and MetroPCS. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
HIYA: Here is another popular app to ease your unwanted call worries. This app supports calls originating from 196 countries. Currently (2018) 5.9 billion calls were made to U.S. mobile phones alone and are analyzed monthly. This company has a working partnership with over 100 carriers worldwide. With offices located in Seattle, New York, London and Budapest, they’ve got you covered. This is a no-cost app at the time of this writing but a premium account will cost you $2.99 per month.
While there are several other apps out there to handle your cell phones, it is up to you, the consumer to do some research about each provider (apps) and to read the fine prints. Be forewarned, not all apps are built the same as each can be a plus or minus to your particular situation. Do your research before downloading any. For landlines, guess we are all pretty much stuck with the old-fashioned way, caller ID boxes.
Don’t Hang Up – The Other Sheriff
Ramping up efforts to enforce laws against the worst offenders, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has decided that enough is enough (200,000 complaints per year) and is actively pursuing those robocalls and unsavory malicious caller ID spoofers.
Major fines against 2 telemarketing firms ($200 million) may have sent a signal to others to beware, but then again, most don’t care until they get caught. Is this action far too late? Perhaps! The FCC has been around for 84 years since it’s inception and with a staff of around 1,688 employees, their hands must get full. For the year 2019, the agency’s budget request is in excess of $333 million and this represents a decrease from previous years.
What of the fines? It seems only appropriate that the monies received from these legal actions should be used in a way to not only aid the government and agencies in their enforcement efforts, but also to you and me, the consumers that are harassed. While adding more staff might seem to be the answer, there are other actions that would make it more feasible to implement to put a good-sized dent into this problem.
Since we are dealing with electronic communications technology and equipment, would it not be more advantageous to heavily regulate the aforementioned to only those companies that have been fully vetted and become certified and licensed to only use them in a legal manner. Making the equipment and services harder to obtain could have an impact.
At the same time, what about using some of those monies to have a more direct impact on the public. Make every company that is successfully prosecuted, pay for the apps that are available to the public. While we’re at it, why not enact laws that would create funds to be used for free apps for all, paid for by the entire telemarketing industry. After all, we are the victims and therefore should not be further burdened and saddled with any more costs.
An Enemy Not Yet Defeated – An Update August 27, 2019
While much work has been done and numerous carriers have come together in the battle to stamp out the bad, it appears that the enemy has decided that calling you is no longer enough to pester the heck out of you. The FCC has mandated that the various phone providers give consumers some sort of protection both free of charge as well as the option for fee-based programs, the time for the full impact of the enforcement efforts is going to take time. That means more patience on your part as a consumer.
This is just the beginning of progress towards a better future in personal communication devices. While some of the offending parties have begun to slowly jog away from their prosperous ventures, there are those that insist on sticking around until every last nickel can be drained and too many moments of your time wasted. Eventually, they will either be caught or finally get the message that it is no longer worth the time of day to harass the masses.
You Are Invited To Participate
Consumers are so much sought after that an invitation even gets sent out to you by spammers. Written in easy to read text, you are asked to answer a simple question by using a link provided by them to God knows where, in exchange for a possible coupon, virtual prize, or a chance to be the first on a great sale.
Regardless of what they send you, it is still SPAM, period and they are still after your information.
Now that the political season is arriving again, many of the senders of those messages manage to find a way around any bans as their messages are protected by the First Amendment rights. It is still marketing in many people’s minds and should not be protected. However, consumers can still control even those types of messages by simply telling them to stop and take your number off of their list.
For the other annoying pests, don’t back down. It starts with a little bit of action on your part.
- Make sure you add your number to the Do Not Call Registry
- Copy and forward offending text messages to your carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Bell)
- Copy and forward unwanted text messages to 7726 (SPAM)
- Do not respond to the individual text messages
- Block numbers of spammers (if known) on your phone.
- Turn on options for caller ID & Spam (see links below)
A Government Feeding Frenzy Unleashed
We have choices and should be cautious about how our information is handled. One misstep can wipe out an entire lifetime of personal work and bring nothing but headaches and frustration to the masses. What are your thoughts on this matter? Please feel free to voice your opinion by commenting on this post and how you handle your problem robocalls.
In the meantime, I’m not answering the phone unless I know you! As far as answering the question, “can I stop robocalls?”, the answer is still yes, and no.
Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.
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