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Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Unwanted Phone Calls

We’ve all been there. Knee deep in something, whether work or personal, when the phone rings. The anticipation of who might be on the other end of the line is palpable. Who, you wonder, has decided to reach out to me today? Does a friend need a listening ear? Am I going to make plans for an enjoyable time out? Does someone need me???

Hopes and dreams are dashed as you answer only to hear the sweet melodic tones of an automated operator droning on about your cars extended warranty….or the fact that your social security number has been “disabled”…..or that your student loan qualifies for refinancing.

When I hear this, I’m either relieved – because I’m too busy to deal with people so I’m glad I can just hang up and go back to what I was doing – or I’m annoyed, because why on earth do I get five bajillion of these calls a week??

So how do you deal with these unwanted calls? The simplest answer is: just ignore them.

Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.

Okay, seriously though – ignoring them is great, but there are actually a few tools you could use to stop the constant torture.

Most of the time, you may get repeated calls from numbers that look similar – for example, you get a call from 123-456-7890. Then the next day you get a call from 123-456-7891. In general, scammers will use a large block of numbers and you probably will get the same call repeatedly, but not necessarily from the same number. So you can block individual numbers through your phone or carrier but you may still get the calls. However, you may want to up your game and block things on a higher level.

If you check where you can get your applications on your phone (ie GooglePlay, the App Store, etc), you can usually find a plethora of call blocking apps.

There are some that are brand specific – like from AT&T or Verizon. There are some that are from various app developers like RoboKiller or Hiya. Look at what is available for your phone. Read the reviews, look at the individual features and decide what might work for you.

If you have an iPhone, there are two settings you can change. In Settings > Phone you can turn on the option to “Silence Unknown Callers”. You can also go into “Call Blocking & Identification” and turn on the option to Silence Junk Callers. This will catch a majority of these calls and send them to voice mail automatically.

Something to be aware of when it comes to scam calls: scammers can make their caller ID look like any number they want. When you set up a phone system, you tell the phone system what to make your caller ID. So if I want everyone to think I’m Jenny, I can program my phone number to show up as 867-5309. It doesn’t mean it’s my number, and I most certainly am not Jenny.

So don’t waste your time calling the number back to yell at them or ask them to stop calling you. I’ve been on the receiving end of those calls many times because someone was spoofing our number as their caller ID. I wasn’t calling them and no amount of yelling was going to make the calls stop.

Finally, you can report the scammer to DoNotCall.gov. Report the caller ID it says (even though it may be spoofed) and any number left in a message or given to you verbally (their “call back” number). It may not stop you from getting the call, but hopefully it can help cut down on future calls.

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