Unwanted Phone Calls and How to Stop Them
Spam, Scam and Spoof Calls
Americans are receiving an increasing number of unsolicited phone calls according to an article published on Moneyish.com in May, 2017. Between February and April, the number of these calls went up by 13.6%. The average person received 7.7 calls per day. All of us combined get more than 2.5 billion calls per month.
Who are the people making these calls? What do they want? Because it is a complicated subject, most of us tend to lump these callers together. In reality, those who contact us are legitimate telemarketers, illegal phishing callers, creditors, private investigators, and law enforcement. Most, if not all, of these calls are unwanted, but not all of them are illegal.
Let’s look at three kinds of phone calls which represent most of the unsolicited calls we receive.
Monty Python Flying Circus Sketch, 1970, Spam
Spam is a type of nuisance call that is unsolicited but legal. The name originated from a Monty Python Flying Circus skit aired in 1970. The word Spam was used repeatedly by people in the skit so that all other dialogue was unheard. The Spam being referred to in the sketch was the canned meat product by that name.
Spam calls are a legitimate and legal form of advertising for companies with real products and services. The idea behind spamming is to disseminate as much product information as possible to as many people as possible believing that the number of positive responses will justify the effort. This is the shotgun approach to marketing.
A scam is a confidence trick whereby the con (confidence) man gains the confidence of his audience prior to defrauding them.
Scam phone calls are confidence tricks or con games. They are fraudulent or deceptive calls from entities seeking to steal money or personal, financial information, a tactic known as phishing.
Scam callers offer products at special prices or free if associated with a contest. Some ask for money to cover unpaid taxes or credit card bills even if the person who receives the call is not in any way delinquent. These swindlers want either money or personal information such as a credit card number or Social Security number.
Spam and Scam are spelled similarly, but that is the end of any likeness. Spam calls are legal marketing calls. Scam calls are illegal and are made by people who want to steal your money or personal, financial information.
Joker Card From a Spoof Card Game
A spoofed call means the person calling uses technology that feeds caller ID a false location for the origin of the call. It might be a random location or one in the same area code as the person being called. It depends on what serves the purpose of the caller.
The word, spoof, was created as part of a card game produced by Milton-Bradley in 1918. The player who is less attentive or slower than the others is given the name, spoof, and is required to perform ridiculous tasks for the other players. On a spoof phone call, the caller is able to get the upper hand by masking their location and pulling the wool over the eyes of the person being called. It seems to be a tenuous connection between the card game and the phone call, but this is assumed to be the origin of the word spoof.
Anyone who wants to hide their real location could use this technology to fool caller ID. Private detectives, law enforcement, and debt collectors use spoof calls to hide their true locations. Often, these calls will begin with the same area code and prefix as the person being called. This is used to bait the person into answering the call. CraigsList scammers use it to appear not to be in the same region as the person selling an item. Spammers and scammers use spoof calls to appear to be a call from a local retailer.
What You Can Do to Take Control
Spammers are usually legitimate marketers making unsolicited phone calls. Scammers are criminals seeking money or personal, financial information. Spoofers can be either legitimate callers or people with illegal interests.
What can we do about these calls? The federal Do Not Call Registry can be reached at 1-888-382-1222, but it has not been very successful. Unscrupulous marketers simply ignore the list.
Here are a few ways you can use available technology to control the calls that come to your cell phone, landline or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone.
Nomorobo is a free service. Calls are intercepted after the first ring and blocked using the FTC-assisted blacklist. Legitimate calls go through for a second ring. Illegal robocalls are intercepted and disconnected. This service works only with internet-based VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems. (Phones that come bundled with Internet).
iPhones- You can use Do Not Disturb to silence all calls except those you choose from your call list. For iOS 7 or above, find Recents under the keypad. To the far right of each number is an information sign (i in a circle). Tap this to bring up instructions for blocking the number.
Android Phones allow you to set the phone to Privacy Mode to get only preapproved calls and those you choose from your contact list. With Call Rejection you can send calls directly to voicemail. Call Control Call Blocker by the Kedlin Co, DroidBlock and Call Filter are other apps you can use on your Android device.
Call Blocking Through Cell Phone Service Providers
Cell Service Providers-Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others have their own call blocking services, usually for a fee. Call your provider for details.
Take Control of Your Phone
You are not helpless when it comes to unsolicited, nuisance calls. You know who they are and why they are calling. You have the information to block some of these calls. Find the method that is best for you and take control of the people who have access to your personal life.