Telephone scams

We’ve all had calls from the “IRS” telling us to pay or go to jail. Recently the “Social Security Administration” has been cold calling telling us the same kind of story.
Microsoft Security calls and wants into our computers.

The most common scam is the “Free Vacation”. Caller tells people they have won a free, all expense paid vacation. They only need to pay a fee for handling the paper work or verify credit card information.
Americans lost $9 billion to this nonsense in 2018. Unbelievable!

It’s unbelievable that anyone could be this stupid, but 24.9 million Americans lose an average of $349 each to these scams every year.

I personally don’t feel sorry for them. People who are that stupid will always find a way to give their money away.


Phone scams work on people the same way any type of huckster works on people…where they work they rely on people’s tendencies to go with their preconceived notions first, then think or engage logically second…and even then, only engage logically to confirm one’s first impulse.

I’m surprised the “You’re being arrested” scams don’t work more given the unending drumbeat on people to simply accept authority.

I got one of those calls once…the one where they tell you the police are on the way to your house right now to arrest you. Even though I knew it was a scam, and told them “Fine…when they get here I’ll explain to them why you’re full of ■■■■ . You want to stay on the line for that?”, my heart was actually pounding a bit over the notion the police actually were coming and I had forgotten something with my taxes I was supposed to have done.

For a brief moment I thought that…but it was an almost uncontrolled response based on the citing of an authority figure (the police) by the caller.

I had a mother who taught me to be skeptical of everybody. Imagine those people who were trained all their lives to simply accept authority.

All of us have the ability to be taken in by something.

We have a lot of Gypsy scams around here. They’re almost always perpetrated on the elderly.

An old lady I go to church with lost $1,500 to one of them a few months ago.
They came by saying they were landscapers and would fertilize her tiny yard for only $10 a bag. She told them to go ahead. About an hour later they presented her with a bill for $1,500 claiming they had used 150 bags of fertilizer. She balked a little and they told her they would call the police, put a lien on her house and sell it out from under her. She paid.
Her grown kids live out of state, but several men at the church have been over there helping her with things. I wish she had called one of us before she paid them.

Best solution: get caller ID and don’t answer them. If our phone rings and caller ID doesn’t recognize the number, we don’t answer it. Generally what happens is the phone answers, the line stays silent and then they’ll hang up. If it’s somebody we know they’ll leave a message. Otherwise we don’t bother with those calls. Oh and we also have a answering machine recording that says we turn in all scam numbers. Not that that helps. I’ve thought of getting a whistle and picking up the phone blowing it in the receiver but I haven’t done that yet.

I have a land line but it’s hooked to simultaneously ring my cell.

My cell has two things…a Caller ID that identifies a number as a Likely Scam and a prescreening function where am automated assistant will take the call for me.

Anyone who is legitimately trying to call me will answer the automated assistant and then I can pick up. Most unknown callers simply drop the call though so I am assuming they are all scams or robocalls or sales pitches.

My stock answer to the “this is the IRS”, “this is the police”, “this is Social Security” is “Before you call someone and tell them you’re with the [IRS, police, Social Security] you really should make sure you’re not calling someone who works for the [IRS, police, Social Security.”

Then there are the ones selling a back brace, consolidating your credit cards, offering health insurance options, pitching solar panels. The problem with these is that caller ID is not an absolute barrier. You block one #, they call from another, and even have the ability to hijack an actual number of someone in your area. I have had my caller ID show the name and number of an actual resident in my area.

Because many of these start with a prerecorded robotic pitch, I wait for them to tell me what to punch in to speak to a live operator, punch it in and then lay the phone aside.

I’ve had fun playing with the scammers.

I once left one of those guys who said they’ve been monitoring my computer and it has serious computer issues on the call for 30 minutes…20 of which was spent me leaving them on hold while I had lunch (after telling him I understood how serious this was, but my wife was coming in with heavy boxes and I had to help her first).

I couldn’t believe he stayed on the phone that long while I played with him before finally revealing I knew what he was up to.

Be careful doing that. Punching a number can set up a pay-per-minute call that will show on your phone bill. They can run as much as $100 a minute. The phone company can rake them off when you complain about it, but it’s a major hassle and can take weeks. Some of these scams are based solely on getting you to punch a number.
It’s best to just hang up on them.


This. Or sometimes I like to answer, ask them to hold for a second, and then set the phone down and go back to what I was doing.

This is how you deal with telemarketers.


Don’t cellphone numbers automatically come with Caller ID? I remember when it was separate in the late ‘90’s, early 21st Century with land lines.

Yeah I have the same problem. Thought about changing my cell # but haven’t done so.

Those YOU HAVE WON A FREE VACATION bot calls, if I’m dumb enough to pick up, get my hang up. Calls from states & areas where I know no one don’t get picked up.

Tired of what I call troll calls, but have gotten much better at avoiding ‘em when they come.

Caller ID isn’t much help these days. As someone said, the scammers can spoof any number they want to.

“…offering health insurance options…”

Don’t remind me I was dumb enough to inquire of options other than company health insurance. Those ■■■■■ never stop calling.

There were some pretty reasonable plans where I work before the Unaffordable Care Act became law in ‘14. So last time one called, I intentionally picked it up to tell ‘em off.

Kept pushing me for an answer to a question when I told him I wasn’t interested in what he was offering. Finally, I told him that negotiation with the likes of him with an option I totally don’t support is like going to a squatter for a reasonable rate on getting my house back.

“Oh, I see.” Then he hung up.

This is something that congress can do, the phone companies should have the ability to shut those scams/calls down.

It’s getting old.

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Caller ID plus call screening (offered on my Pixel phone and maybe all Android phones?) is incredibly effective, however.

I like T Mobile for the reason that there is a screening feature I didn’t see with a previous carrier. Some calls read “Scam Likely”, which I totally avoid answering.

I used to get on similar to that except they were so damn lame it never had any such effect. I only listened to the voice mails they left, but check it out. It always started mid sentence and the exact first words were

“and be taken into custody by the local cops” It then went on with some BS about money or something, I don’t even remember the rest.

They actually said cops instead of police, it was hilarious. After a couple of months of that they finally figured out that they should be saying police and made that change but then the calls stopped altogether. I think they “went out of business” LOL. What a bunch of idiots that one was.

If I don’t recognize the number I simply don’t answer the call.


About a month ago;

Being from Schumer though, I don’t know if McConnel will let it move forward, regardless of it’s own merits.

Senator Chuck Schumer has launched new legislation that would push back against scammer robocalls.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would give federal agencies the power to trace and fine robocallers. It would also give service providers the power to filter and stop those calls.

The fines are stiff: $10,000 per call, with an increased statute of limitations of three years.

Unenforceable. Every one of them are calling from another country.