The new call-blocking gadget keeps two lists for you: one is of calls that you’ve blocked, and the other is incoming phone calls. The way mine is set up now, I can check the incoming calls and, if I don’t recognize a number, just press a button to block it henceforth.
This is handy, because it allows me to manually filter calls before consigning numbers to limbo.
So the other day, here comes a phone from a local area code, indicating the suburbs in the West Valley. Well, I know a lot of people in the West Valley, and this number looks vaguely like the number of one of the Camptown Races writers, a guy named Gil. Could be: Gil would like to form a writer’s group and said he would call when he got his act that much together.
I decide to call the number, lest I accidentally blacklist a real human being.
The guy who answers the phone sounds just like Gil! His voice has the same kind of raspy texture and he speaks in the same vocal range. I’m a little disoriented because for a second or two I think I’m talking to Gil, and he’s a little disoriented because for a second or two he thinks he’s talking to someone he should know. Doesn’t take long for us to figure out, though, that we’ve never heard of each other before.
I ask if he called my number, and he says no, BUT…the police and a CenturyLink representative are right now at his house. The guy has been getting a hundred calls a day from robocall pests. Yes, that’s 100. One hundred calls per day.
I express my sympathies, apologize for adding to the burden, and mention that I bought a device from Amazon that seems to block most of the nuisances — without mentioning the brand, for fear he’d think I was trying to sell him something. He was so upset he didn’t seem to register what I was saying.
The bastards had spoofed his number — most robocalls that appear to come from your area code are spoofed. That’s another source of trouble, because enraged consumers who track those numbers down are likely to call you up and tell you how the cow ate the cabbage. Once I did call some character whose business came up on my caller ID, only to learn from him that I was not the first to complain that he’d been trying to sell godonlyknows what.
If you google “100 robocalls a day,” you discover this phenomenon is not unheard of. Time-Warner Cable deliberately harassed a woman in New York, trying to collect a debt owed by a prior user of the phone number — TWC ended up paying out $229,000 for the privilege. One woman — coincidentally in Arizona — had her phone lines shut down when SOBs called her 100 times an hour, according to Consumer’s Union, which also reports the sleazes called a woman’s daughter, spoofing the woman’s phone number, and started blitzing both numbers every 15 minutes.
Consumer’s Union has a campaign to end robocalling under way. They seem to be focused mostly on cell phones. You can go here to sign CU’s online petition to pressure phone companies to provide free robocall blocking. I strongly urge you to add your name to this effort.