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In the Know: Hanging up on robocalls

How are you doing with robocalls?

I've been pretty tired of them for some time. And now that they have upped their technology, the companies that make those calls can make it look like they are calling from a local number, which makes it more likely that you will answer them.

It used to be such calls were made by people. That must be an absolutely thankless job, making blind calls on the telephone and having people hang up on you all day.

Now most of the calls are made by computers. They sound a lot like people but when you give the computer an answer it isn't expecting there is silence. I don't feel bad about hanging up on a computer.

But I also feel offended when the computer hangs up on me, as happens when I give the computer a wrong answer.

Recently I got a call from some outfit wanting to sell me an extended warranty on one of our cars. I was curious about which car so I played along and was transferred to a real person. The real person didn't know on which car my warranty had expired but did ask how many miles I had on the car. I was done with her so I said "150,000 miles." There was a click and the line went dead, no "thank you for asking," or no "do you have another vehicle we could talk about?" Just click. Can you imagine ever trying to collect on a claim from a company like that?

There are many scams out there that start with calls. There's the, "Hi grandpa, I'm in trouble and need some money fast," scam. There are many lottery scams "send us money to cover the taxes and we'll send you your prize." Personally, I wouldn't buy anything from such a call. There are plenty of legitimate businesses around where you can talk to real people. And, if you didn't buy a lottery ticket, you didn't win anything.

There's actually a web service called Jolly Roger. If you pay for the service they will intercept your robocalls and drag them out. Their computer says things like "uh ha," "mmmm," etc., and can tie up the robocall computer for some time. I don't think it's worth paying for but if you haven't got anything to do sometime they have some recorded calls that are fun to listen to on YouTube.

My brother-in-law strung a live caller along for quite a while one night when we were visiting. The caller was selling satellite TV service so my brother-in-law said he had a wood burning TV and asked if the service could work with that. The caller had never heard of such a thing so my brother-in-law's call kept getting bounced around the call center as the caller tried to find someone who knew something about wood-fired TVs. Finally someone figured he was playing them. Click.

I'm not sure why companies are allowed to make robocalls with computers. It should be illegal. Period.

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John Stone is the former mayor of Glenwood and former publisher of the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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