Beating Heat and Robocalls

It’s that infernal part of the year when Dallasites scramble to exit for a bit of respite before the pace quickens.

Increasingly, it’s even hard to go to the movies for a little getaway. Put your phone on vibrate and feel the buzz from the ubiquitous telemarketers.

Don’t return missed calls without a message from a known source? Now spoofers are getting more conniving and using Dallas area codes.

Vacationing without a phone is next to impossible, if not for calls, then for texting loved ones, taking photos, and sometimes as a wallet.

Why the deluge of calls?

For one thing, it’s easy to block nuisance calls to a landline with an answering machine, and many people no longer even bother with landlines.

But does anyone actually buy those security systems with “free installation,” vacation packages with “great discounts,” credit cards with “0% interest rates” or worry about threats from the “IRS”?

Sadly, the naïve do get played, but it turns out it doesn’t even matter if the phone calls go unanswered.

Crooks create bogus companies, buy up blocks of unused cell numbers, create the robocall, and the launch begins.

It seems a tiny fraction of a penny is charged by phone carriers for searching for the caller and credited back to the company doing the dialing. Those pennies turn into real money if enough dials are made.

Adrian Abramovich from Miami was apprehended after making nearly 100 million robocalls. The FTC slapped a $120 million fine on him (yet to be collected).

He’s a drop in the bucket. In April alone, it was calculated that 3.4 billion robocalls were made. There are no laws for prison time on the books. Yet. And most scammers are difficult to catch with call centers out of the country.

An entire industry has sprung up to combat the problem. Among many phone apps, my personal favorite is Nomorobo.

The national do not call registry (1-888-382-1222) can’t handle the problem alone. My carrier, AT&T, is trying. Every now and then I get a loud alert that a telemarketer is calling. I’d rather they just blocked it.

I guess all you can do is pay it forward by annoying your congressman with several calls for political action. Then turn off the ringer and head for the hills.

The heat will eventually end. Just not those calls.

Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at [email protected]

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