The Return of the Robocall

How about a quick rant?…

I have written about the new age variety of spam, specifically the email and social media kind. But much to the surprise of many, the old-fashioned form of “junk communication” is back and stronger than ever…

The solicitation phone call.

Getting a phone call from a solicitor is the worst.

With the rise of cell phones and the decline of landline phones, the volume of solicitors clogging up the lines greatly decreased during the early part of the decade. However, it didn’t take long before “they” got a hold of cell phone numbers. For the past two years, I have probably received a junk phone call at least five times per week.

Although annoyed at these calls, I never had the motivation to actually write a blog post on them. However, that changed when I received one this past Thursday. For those of you who didn’t read my numerous blog posts over the last two weeks referencing a certain holiday, last Thursday happened to be Thanksgiving.

The tweet I sent out after getting an unwanted call on Thanksgiving.

Really? Spam calls on Thanksgiving? Can’t these companies check a box within their robocalling software to cease phone calls on family holidays? Just a little privacy and respect would be nice.

But these days it just isn’t the automated recordings and the inconvenient times they call that fire me up. Rather, it is the trickery and deceit that is used to make you answer them.

Many of us have the obligation to pick up our phones when they ring. So even when a call comes in from a random town in a state I have never been to, I will usually answer it, knowing that a gimmick likely awaits me on the other line. These calls are annoying, but at least they are predictable.

But telemarketing agencies have grown more sophisticated. They have found ways to bother the people who would normally press decline the second a spam call would come through.

The first trick is calling from a local number. Even if the company is located in Texas AND calling from a Texas phone, their call still comes through with a Myrtle Beach (or whatever city you happen to be living in) area code. Of course most of us will accept a call that appears local.

Another trick takes “calling local” a step further. These days, I get numerous spam calls from numbers that have the identical first three digits (not the area code but the actual seven-digit number) as my number. Although this method has now turned into an obvious indicator that it is in fact a solicitation, it did work on me the first couple times.

Finally, you also get the “persistent callers.” You let a suspected spam call go directly to voicemail and then the number calls you back immediately after. Hmmm, you think, if they are calling again it must be a legitimate call.

These methods are unethical because they mess with you. Someone calling twice might heighten your curiosity and fear. Or, you might be expecting an important phone call and answer the local number with high hopes, only for your expectations to be crushed. Or, you might excuse yourself from the office or a social function to take what you think is an important call.

I wish spam phone calls didn’t make such a big comeback (or callback haha). You can sign up for as many “Do Not Call” lists as you want, the random telephone numbers will still find a way to show up on your iPhone screen under the Incoming Call heading. Although I am accepting of the fact that these type of phone calls are once again here to stay, can we at least get some peace and quiet on the holidays? Don’t Blink.