By J. L. Sloss
We all get scam calls on our cell phones and our land lines. We add our numbers to the Do Not Call List — over and over — but, the calls keep coming. We try to screen them with caller ID. Sometimes that works. But what if someone you know is calling from an unrecognizable phone number? That’s a call you probably should answer because it might be important, or even an emergency. So we stop what we’re doing and answer the phone only to get one more bogus call.
Many of the annoyances are “robo calls,” in which we hear a pre-recorded message and usually instructions on how to proceed. That’s easy: hang up. But with many of the calls I’ve been getting lately, there has been a real person on the other end of the line.
I constantly get calls from a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police asking for (of course) money. I tell the caller that I support my local police through my local taxes and ask that they please stop calling. But they keep calling. About a month ago, I emailed the national secretary of the FOP to ask if these calls were legit and asked how donated funds were used. No response so far.
Then there are the calls from Microsoft telling me that there’s a problem with my computer, and I need to let them remotely access it and fix it. News reports constantly stress that if you fall for that scam, your computer may actually be held hostage until a “ransom” is paid. And even then you may not get it back. In the meantime, the crooks have your account numbers, saved passwords, email address list, everything. I usually say, “Take me off your call list!” and hang up. Or before hanging up, I’ve said, “I know this call is totally bogus, so tell your boss and the owner of your alleged company that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!”
Another time I said, “You’ve reached Supervisory Special Agent Karen Parker from the FBI.” Then I’ll press a couple of keys and say, “This call is now being recorded.” It doesn’t help; they just keep talking. But on the last such call, I was curious when I heard the caller’s really heavy foreign accent. I asked, “What country are you calling from?” He said, “New York.” Hmmm, didn’t know that New York was a country.
And ‘tis the season for bogus calls “from the IRS.” The caller will tell you that the back taxes you owe must be paid IMMEDIATELY, or you will be prosecuted. Then he (and it’s always a “he”) will tell you how much to pay and how to pay it. Again, I usually just hang up, but the other day I just had to say, “Listen! I get a refund — EVERY YEAR! So you owe ME money! When am I gonna get it?!” Then I hung up.
Both Microsoft and the IRS, by the way, have clearly and repeatedly stated that they do not make phone calls nor do they send emails, but the scammers keep trying. I got a different kind of call a few weeks ago from “Save America.” I thought — political call; right? They’re going to ask me whom I’m voting for or tell me whom I should be voting for. Nope. The harsh male voice said, “There’s a serious problem with your security system. We need to send someone right out to fix it!” I calmly said, “Well, yes; I have a security system but not with YOUR company. Do not call back!” I figured that should work. It didn’t.
When I got a call the other day from the Firemen’s Association of Brookfield, Massachusetts, asking for (you guessed it) money, I was totally taken aback. Does this woman have any clue what state she’s calling? Suddenly I got a great idea. In an excited voice, I said, “Wow! I was just going to call you guys! I’m seeking donations for a Go Fund Me campaign that I …” Click! Awww, she hung up on me. Guess she didn’t want to hear my spiel. Yeah, I know … how’s it feel? Felt pretty good to me. I’m going to keep trying that. We’ll see if THAT works.
J. L. Sloss, of Wyndmoor, is a writer of articles and short stories. Now retired, she had a 40-year career with a major insurance company as a corporate trainer, marketing manager, proposal unit manager and proposal content writer. She is also a songwriter and performer with a four-piece band called Timber Line that plays local venues.