Robocall? Stay put and eat your greens

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By Brian Kieran

For me it almost always happens at dinner. The phone rings and, immediately, my wife says: “Don’t answer that, it’s the money wanters.” But, I’m an old journalist. I live in hope. Heck, it could be the premier needing my advice.

So, I abandon my dinner, leap for the phone and, of course, I am greeted with a long pause, followed by a click and then a computer-generated pitch or a “credit card officer” in Mumbai telling me there is a problem with my Amex account that can be repaired if I share my computer screen with him. And, I don’t even have an Amex account. I utter a few slurs that bridge international language barriers, hang up and slink back to the dinner table.

Is this you? Of course, it is.

Robocalls are annoying. A robocall is any phone call that’s delivered using an autodialer (a device that automatically dials numbers without a human operator), usually resulting in a prerecorded message and/or a transferal to a live operator.

Autodialers can reach thousands of phone numbers per minute. Wrong number? No pickup? Disconnected line? No problem, these devils instantly hop to the next number in line.

Robocalls are used extensively for all kinds of purposes: appointment reminders, credit card fraud alerts, research pollsters, political campaigns, telemarketing, and unfortunately, scams. But legitimate or not, they can be quite the nuisance.

Here’s tip that just came in from Betterthan50’s Peter Dale: “One of my longtime friends told me a way to stop these irritating phone calls, the ones that rely on a time delay before either a living person begins to speak or you are treated to a recording,” he says.  “If you say, ‘good morning,’ (or afternoon or evening) the computer will stop the call. That’s because it is programmed to recognize ‘hello.’ As it happened, I got a computer-generated call not more than 10 minutes after my friend shared this tip with me. I did it and the computer disconnected the call.”
Now, hanging up immediately is just as effective but not as much fun as throwing a curve at the robocall program.

Another, way to escape the curse of the robocallers is to register with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL). It gives consumers a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls.

If you are a consumer you can choose to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive by registering your residential, wireless, fax or VoIP telephone number on the National DNCL.

Registering on the National DNCL will not eliminate all telemarketing calls as there are some exemptions, including calls for or on behalf of: Canadian registered charities; political parties, federal, provincial and municipal election candidates and associations of members of a political party; persons collecting information for a survey of members of the public; and, organizations that you have done business with in the past 18 months, or to whom you have made an inquiry in the past six months.

Regarding that last point, it is important to be on guard when offering your phone number to an organization or corporation you are dealing with. Sometimes the small print on a contract permits the organization or business to pester you with marketing offers by phone … at dinner time.

Best idea? Listen to your spouse when he or she tells you to keep your butt in the chair and eat your greens.

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