If you’ve had enough of robocalls, spoofers, hackers and other pests invading your home all day and into the night, I have a few ideas for you; follow them at your own risk.
First of all, cancel your land line. Just call up the phone company and say you’ve had enough interruptions from their clients who obviously are valued more than residential customers and you don’t want to play the game anymore. They may offer to sell you some screening service but don’t bite. Tell them you might come back when such a service is at no additional cost to you.
Tell them you put screens on your windows and doors to keep out flies, mosquitoes and other stinging insects and you see no reason why they can’t help you to screen out objectionable audio visitors as well.
If that’s too extreme for you, try disconnecting your answering machine. And put the ringer on mute and answer only those calls that show up on your caller ID as someone you know. It might be a good idea to tell those who are used to calling and leaving a message that you no longer take messages. If you don’t pick up, they can try again later. Or not.
Tell the doctors’ offices and others with automatic calling that recorded appointment reminders are no longer accepted at your number. You will no longer get those calls on your answering machine telling you that this is a reminder of the appointment that you made and that you will be billed for the visit if you do not keep the appointment.
There will be an end to the inconvenience of coming home, finding an appointment reminder on your phone with the message instructing you to call back and confirm that your machine has heard from their machine and you will be there at the appointed time.
This will also save you the trouble of having to call that number only to get a recorded answering machine giving you 90 seconds or so of options (twice, if you press the number to which you are directed) and then leaving you wondering if the machine recorded your message after five minutes of back and forth. On more than one occasion I have called such a number and left my message for them: This is my confirmation of the agreed-upon appointment and since no one answered the phone I need a return call from a live person in their office confirming that my confirmation was received.
Then pull plug on the answering machine on your phone and stick to it.
This decision also means that you will not get those cryptic messages that begin mid-sentence telling you your credit card will be charged $300 if they don’t hear from you by close of business by calling this number, or you can push “1” now to talk to an adviser who will walk you through making your payment.
You can stop replaying the same message from the dialing for Medicare dollars people, the ones offering “free” knee or back braces, scooters, tub installations, and on and on.
Let your friends and vendors know that you have a perfectly good cell phone and an email account and the United States Postal Service and you don’t need to provide a marketing portal for hucksters, politicians, scammers, perverts and other rascals, including anonymous callers who just want to vent.
Having said that, be diligent about checking your snail mail. Be sure it’s yours. I get three or four pieces of mail a week that were delivered to my mailbox by mistake, and it makes me wonder if the neighbors who get my mail are as conscientious about bringing it to me as I am about getting theirs to them.
I hate to complain to the post office, because if the postal workers lose their jobs, they might be desperate enough to go to work for phone spammers.