PLEASE, NOT THE PHONE AGAIN

Please, Not the Phone Again
One Woman’s Opinion
by – Sheri de Grom

Could there be a drone hovering outside my window or even doing a fly-over of my home? Instead of it being a delivery from Amazon, the drone will be collecting information robocallers might find useful when they call our number and the tranquility of our day is pierced.

The robocallers who continue to call day after day include: telemarketers, survey-takers, politicians, charities, scammers and many others.

Legislation has passed protecting cell phones but it’s open season for land lines. We occasionally receive an unsolicited cell phone text message but somehow that doesn’t offend me as much. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already made the decision, when I elect to pick up my cell phone, that the messages are simple to delete without ever opening them.

As difficult as it is for some of my friends to understand, I go days on end without answering my cell phone. I don’t carry it around with me in the house and the only time I make sure it is charged is when I go out and about. My theory is that if someone knows me, they’ll call the land line.

An advantage of moving so often with my career is that I don’t remember robocallers and I’m positive I would have. The many times I needed to be available for my work and Tom’s medical care during those years, I’ve never thought twice about answering the phone.

I believe I’ve taken every step necessary to stop the robocalls to our land line. I’ve placed us on the ‘donotcall.gov’ list more times than I can remember. A handful of states prohibits or restricts political robocalls. However, political groups need your permission to call your land line.

Political campaigns often get phone numbers from voter-registration rolls. A not-for-profit group in DC, the Citizens for Civil Discourse, has several suggestions for avoiding telephone intrusion. One suggestion seems so simple. Many of us automatically include our telephone number and e-mail address, out of habit, when we register to vote. Yet, only your street address is required by law.

I’ve heard many individuals talk about changing their political party affiliations for the upcoming elections. I’m included in that group and will be registering as an ‘Independent.’ I’ll know not to include my phone number or e-mail when I complete my new registration. Of course, my information is available from any number of public sources and not difficult to obtain.

If you don’t want to be bothered by excessive political/campaign robocalls, you can always call the politicians campaign headquarters and say, ‘If you robocall me, I will not vote for you.’

You can also add your name to the National Political Do Not Contact Registry (stoppoliticalcalls.org). This is a not-for-profit organization.

For several months I’ve simply screened calls but, I’m tired of having unwanted and unasked intruders into our home. I now answer calls but quickly write the incoming phone number down before I answer it. If the robocaller gives me an opportunity to press a number to indicate I want to be taken off their call list I do so. If they persist, I add the number to a growing list I have to report to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also report repeat offenders to your State’s Attorney General Office.

The information you must collect to file a valid complaint includes: telephone number of the caller (now that robocallers are using throw-away phones this is becoming more difficult. Additionally, many of the calls will appear on your screen as blocked numbers. We have a policy in our home that we never answer a blocked number.

To file the complaint you’ll need the time of day the phone call came into your home, an approximate number of times the caller has previously called you and of course, the topic of the conversation. The more details you remember, the better. Beware of the following:

  • Unsolicited telephone calls that try to part you from your money.
  • A robocall from a company you’ve never heard of offers you a great insurance rate or a low-interest loan. Such pitches are illegal and probably fraudulent.
  • Beware of companies offering consolidation of your debts. Many not-for-profits now provide this service and they provide a statement each month detailing how much was paid to each of their credit-holders. The non-profit organization insures you will continue to receive monthly statements from your account-holders. Thus, you maintain a checks and balances.

The not-for-profit does all of the negotiating with the creditors.

However, if an organization approaches you by way of telephone or other means of communication, claiming to be a not-for-profit organization, you must investigate their not-for-profit status and speak with client references.

  • Beware of any insurance company or medical supply house that has obtained personal information about you. (Many businesses now pay custom firms for individualized data per individual and the caller knows more about you than you can imagine when they make the call to your home).  Had I agreed with any number of different companies, I’d be paying hundreds of dollars each month for diabetic supplies. Instead, my health insurance covers 100% of my supplies at a local independent pharmacy.
  • Currently three fraud alerts have been issued about two different scams. One is for a dental protection plan that covers a minimum of 50% off your dental bill before it’s ever submitted to any insurance you have. Approach this call with caution. They frequently use a local cell number that can’t be called back.
  • The second ‘beware of’ is the call that begins with a voice saying words to the effect of, “This is the FBI and we’re receiving a record number of break-ins in your area.” This ruse is being used by someone who wants you to tell them about the risk factors at your address, etc.
  • The third and most infuriating to me is the local cell number beginning with the caller asking you to press 1 on your telephone keypad so they may make a delivery of two medical alert devices. They use the standard line that someone else (possibly a friend or family member) has already paid for the devices.  The last time I answered, I interrupted the caller many times and asked who had paid for the life alert devices and the caller continued reading his script until I hung up.

Can you imagine what a chain of events any of the scammers could put into place if I agreed with anything they had to offer?

Most days I’m content to screen calls but that’s not an option when my husband’s sleeping. I’ll grab the phone immediately in the hopes the sound doesn’t wake Tom.

How about it? Do you have methods to get rid of these pesky robocallers once and for all? 

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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80 Responses to PLEASE, NOT THE PHONE AGAIN

  1. inesephoto says:

    I have read all the comments just to feel that I am not alone… Like you I don’t answer the “private” calls, and unusual numbers. If it is important they will leave a voice mail. Friends will text.

  2. babsje says:

    Great insights into a somewhat universal problem, Sheri. I, too, do not answer my phone unless I recognize the incoming number, but for a slightly different reason. In the past, I have been stalked and assaulted in real life by more than one violent stranger. At one point, someone else started phone stalking me. At the time, I worked for a major health insurance provider, one that had a publicly published 800 number. The individual started calling that number and asked to be transferred to my number, but he never left a vmail for me and so i had no idea about the incoming calls. After a while, I received a call from a sweet woman in the office associated with the 800 number. She said, “Ms. Babsje, please tell your young man to stop calling for you on our 800 number.” I asked “What young man,” and she then explained about multiple, multiple daily calls from a man asking for me. I had no idea! What the phone stalker didn’t realize what that calls to the 800 number always logged the incoming caller’s phone number. I contacted the company’s IT/Telecom dept and they were be to give me pages and pages of phone logs for the 800 number. Looking at them, I found hundreds of calls from the man – placed from different locations, his brother’s in New England, mother’s in FL, etc. Then one day, I returned home to a ringing landline phone, but when I picked it up, there was just the click of a phone hanging up. Less than an hour later, a knock on my apartment door. From then on, I stopped answering the phone, actually unplugged the landline to not even hear it ringing. That was then and this is now. Having no landline anymore keeps the stalker from being able to figure out when I am at home, and when not. And unless I know the incoming number of cell phone calls, I let them go to gmail, which I check every couple of weeks. Sorry for rambling on like that, but great post, Sheri.

    • I’m delighted you shared your story and never, ever apologize for a long comment on my blog. I almost always post long and I love it when a reader tells me there experience and how they’ve dealt with something and the impact it had on their life.
      I completely understand why you got rid of the land line at home and went straight to cell. We all do what is best for ourselves, we have to in the world we live in. I know first hand the fear of being phone stalked and it has a terrible way of destroying even the most simple tasks of our lives.
      I was living at the beach near LA the first year after my husband was killed in Vietnam. He was missing for a period of time and I was receiving stalking phone calls. I called the phone company and in the 60s the only alternative they could offer me was to change my phone number. Of course that wasn’t an option. It would take too long for me to get the new number to every official that needed my number.
      I couldn’t believe what was happening. I kept telling myself someone had gotten my phone number out of the phone book at random. The phone calls went on for four months and then the final call came that shattered my world and I was free to change my number.
      Thank you for stopping in to read with me. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog.

      • babsje says:

        Thanks for understanding, Sheri, and for continuing to share things so close to your own heart and home, so often your posts move me (though I’m not a prolific commenter). You’re phone stalking and that ultimate heart-breaking phone call brought tears. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain you endured, and yet you have thrived in the end! Best, Babsje

  3. Lynn Garrett says:

    Just this week, a local newspaper called AGAIN–at least the eighth call that week–after being told TWICE we were not interested in subscribing. The last unfortunate caller rang in at nine a.m. and my daughter picked up the phone. She was already upset about something else. Needless to say, he became the “cat she kicked.” Not only is it annoying beyond measure, it is terrible business practice for that company. Calling me eight times means they wasted seven calls that might possibly have reached someone who would subscribe. But the people calling still got paid for their time and trouble for making the calls. Whoever writes the checks should recognize that.

    • Lynn – You are so right about the serious negative publicity the newspaper is sending when they call so many times in so short of a time span. Imagine if you were ill and had to get up to answer the telephone each time it rang. I think I would have been doing more than ‘kicking the cat!’
      We received one of ‘those’ calls yesterday and I picked it up just as I was walking out the door to run errands. I was tired and wondering how I was going to have the energy to do everything on my list. Well, I allowed the caller to make me angry enough to fuel my energy. I guess they were good for something but must get them out of my head today.
      Thanks for checking in.

  4. I live in Quebec, where French is the official language and so often when I get these kinds of calls I tell them that “I don’t speak French.” This is especially valid when the caller is struggling with his or her English or is soliciting me to subscribe to a French newspaper. If it’s an English newspaper, I simple say that I don’t read newspapers, which is the truth.
    But as someone already commented, there is usually a pause before the person comes on the line so I simply hang up.

    • Carol – Thank you for stopping by to comment. I know, oh how I know how frustrating the ringing telephone is. When we received a political call last night at 10:00 p.m. I really hit the ceiling. I keep thinking, why should I have to turn off my telephone to keep unwanted callers from calling me. There’s no reduction to my telephone bill for the hours it’s turned off.
      We also get the ‘but the newspaper’ calls. We do read newspapers but that’s always been part of our careers and it’s simply carried over into retirement. We’ve talked about cutting back but never seem to reach a conclusion when it comes to renewing the next time.

  5. likeitiz says:

    Ahh, don’t get me started, Sheri. Our home phone is registered in the do not call list. ATT prides themselves for their blocking abilities for unsolicited calls and texts. But, still, some solicitors—business, political, pseudo-religious, fake charitables— the somehow get through. I just hang up. Sometimes, I tell them, “never ever call this number ever again.” But it usually results in my getting all worked up. So, I just hang up. But when they call again….

  6. I was infuriated a few days ago when my college alma mater called wanting a donation for the annual scholarship campaign. I explained at the outset that my job had just been downsized to parttime and that I couldn’t give anything this year. The caller responded by saying how she fully understood but then proceeded to list ever-diminishing giving options starting at $500 and working her way down to $10. I finally said, “IT”S POINTLESS TO KEEP TALKING! I have already told you that I can’t give ANYTHING this year! She finally got the point(lessness).

    • John – I so understand. I have to admit I’m tired of the Sheriff’s Association continuous calls for donations for their widows and orphan fund. They ‘got me’ one year and then I did my research. Here’s another example of hitting myself with my ‘stupid stick.’ The donated money was to go for the widows of reserve members of the sheriff’s association. I learned the same reserve officers do not have a life insurance policy the same as our reserve military when they are in harms way. The following year when the call came for me to donate, I had my research at the ready in a handy file folder and the caller didn’t like what I read to him and they’ve now taken me off their list.
      My alma mater has taken me off their donation request, both undergraduate and graduate school, when they do away with their football coaches I’ll consider a small donation perhaps but probably not. I don’t think I have to worry.

  7. HAVE FAITH says:

    Hi

    I do not belong to this post in technical(literal) terms but figuratively I do. I would have thrown my cell phone by now but for the want of exigencies it is still there with me.

    1/4 cell phone usage is help rest 3/4th is mental strain.

  8. I feel your pain, Sheri! I’m getting so tired of it especially because I’m always afraid the calls I don’t answer might be something important. If I get one more calling offering to lower my interest rate (a scam to get my info I’ve learned. Once I chatted with them like I’m interested and uncovered their little scam), I may turn into a mad woman!

  9. ksbeth says:

    i really haven’t encountered many of them since i got rid of my land line and went only with my cell. i know how annoying and bothersome those calls can be, and your blog is very helpful with info about what to do about the ones who persist.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Beth. We must keep our land line due to Tom’s medical needs so I’m getting used to either turning the phone off or having it on buzz. I turn it off when I’m trying to sleep. I was on call 24/7 for the last half of my career and I don’t think I would miss having a telephone all that much. I am fine with letting a phone ring forever but it drives Tom nuts. I don’t care if they go to the machine either – but then you just have to dump them –

      • ksbeth says:

        totally understandable, but i know how annoying those calls must be. my daughter and her husband had to keep their land line for a while after they brought their preemie home to have a constant link to the hospital, and i remember many sales calls each day. i think your approach is a good compromise, since the phone is a necessity.

  10. Bonnie J. Gaines says:

    couldn’t have said it better myself, great post…shared on twitter and FB

  11. Patty B says:

    Signing up for the do not call doesn’t work…many telemarketer calls are from overseas and so are out of bounds by the DNC and no way to trace it if you complain. We have caller ID so I screen my calls, and if the number calls twice I block it, I have noticed they are now using local numbers so any number I do not know I don’t answer, if it is a friend or someone who needs to get in touch with me they will leave a message if not – oh well. In the off chance I do pick up I either hang up right away (for robo calls) or just tell them as they are speaking that we are not interested and hang up before they even take a breath. Today at work I get a robo call that started out with, “all of our representatives please hold for….” that is as far is it got when I hung up. I am sorry but if you want to call then call. I refuse to answer robo calls and one credit card company we have got mad because they would always robo call and they wanted me to consolidate or whatever and I told them straight out if they are too busy to call me outright then I refuse to accept their calls. I told the customer service rep that it is rude and un professional. And while I was at it told them to take me off any calling list even if they are a company I use, when asked how to get in touch with me, I said send it through the mail!

    • Patty – I hear you loud and clear. I normally have a receiver on my desk and one by my chair where I read and I leave the house phone on buzz and use the caller ID. I still lift the receiver but don’t acknowledge the call. I lift the receiver simply because it gives me the opportunity to complete the information I want to start a proper investigation. A group of volunteers have now shut down three major credit card companies and a cruise line. Sure, they’ll pop up again but for now, the entire corporation was charged with a felony and that means corporate must put the information into the annual report that goes to their stockholders.

  12. Jane Sadek says:

    Been MIA lately – sort of a digital sabbatical, but I’m all refreshed and ready to rock the blogosphere. The only thing you can do to get rid of robocallers is dump the land line. We made the leap about five years back when we moved to this house and haven’t looked back. Used to, I had my cellphone with me 24/7, even slept with it next to the bed, but since my care-giving duties are over, my phone and I have a completely different relationship. I do most of my communication via email and text. I live on facebook. The phone only rings a few times a week.

    In fact, it rang this morning and some unfamiliar voice told me I’d won and went through a list of cars and vacations I was qualified for. I said, “Excuse me, how did I win this opportunity.” The voice said, “You did something on the internet.” CLICK!

    • Hi, Jane – Nice to see you again. I’m not in a position to dump the land line. Tom’s pace maker is checked by the land line and it cannot even be a wireless phone. Now I know why I saved my old powder blue princess phone. (Tom told me I was being sentimental all these years). I plug it in once a month for his pacemaker check and when that’s over, I plug the wireless system back in. The land line is also necessary for his life alert button that ties in directly to the emergency department. His life alert button (he wears it when he gets up and I’m not in the house) has become a life line for me as well. I can now go outside and garden (when the weather permits) and not have to worry about whether he’s doing ok or not.
      I refuse to have my cell phone with me 24/7. Matter of fact, I don’t know where it is most of the time. I make sure it is charged and in my purse if we are leaving the house and going someplace. I was on call 24/7 about half my career and I can let a phone ring off the hook and it doesn’t bother me. If Tom is awake, he feels compelled to answer it.

  13. Elyse – Excellent point regarding people acting as the police and fire. My standard answer is: we dedicate our monies to two charities a year. Please remove us from your call list. Of course the caller always calls again – but I keep repeating the same phrase. A woman can hope, right. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Sheri, I haven’t a clue how to go about getting rid of the verbal vermin in our life. Like lice on a pile of trash, they multiply and grow stronger over time. Good luck getting some peace. I’ve been an independent since the democrats torpedoed Humphrey 🙂

    • Florence – One of the biggest issues that bugs me at the present time is companies that are solely in business to mine data about the rest of us. Those businesses make millions selling our information to third parties and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. The information is gathered from every stroke we enter into the keyboard. Gurr – – – Sixty Minutes had a segment this past Sunday night about companies that mine for data about everyone and how rich the companies are.

  15. Mae Clair says:

    Great information, Sheri. I screen my calls. When I see the Caller ID come up if I don’t know the caller I don’t answer. I figure if it’s important, they’ll leave a message and I’ll return the call (or they’ll start talking when my voice mail kicks in and I’ll pick up). I can see where that wouldn’t be an option for you if Tom is sleeping. It’s a shame we have to spend so much energy and time protecting ourselves from things we don’t want like robocalls and spam emails. Even worse, that so many of them are scams.

    • Mae – You are so right about so many of the robocalls being scams. The company that offers the ‘convenience’ of having the customer’s diabetic supplies delivered to their door are a big pharma company trying to cash in on everyone that’s a diabetic and thus control the market. However, had I agreed to the program, I would be paying several hundred dollars a month vs getting the same supplies from my independent pharmacy at no charge. My insurance covers everything. Of course there are many others that prey on senior citizens as their target. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Thanks for the do-not-call website. I went over there and registered. I hope it’s not a scam.

  17. My callers usually don’t say anything. So I pick up and hang up. It’s sad there are so many scams out there. The information of the different agencies to help stop these solicitations are helpful.

  18. gpcox says:

    Thanks for the added help, Sheri. We are on the National and State do not call lists, but that does not halt any political calls. I’ll get on that address immediately (I already hate our mayor – he calls every day!)

    • Hi G.P. – I love the answer Bruce [his answer is below] gave. He said, “Just before you continue, have you ever thought about becoming a Catholic.” Bruce claims the caller will hang up immediately. I can’t wait to try his suggestion. If Tom is awake, he cannot stand the sound of a ringing of a telephone. It doesn’t bother me at all. After being on call 24/7 the last 10 years of my career, telephones aren’t real high on my priority list.

      • gpcox says:

        I’m with Tom, on my last job, my boss thought I was his private secretary and that phone would often ring within 30 seconds of him hanging up – I don’t want it ringing! A lot of my calls are recordings, will it stop them too?

  19. Gallivanta says:

    I don’t have many unwanted calls. However, if I don’t want to be disturbed at certain times I simply turn off the ring tone. I know that if there is an urgent message from friends or family it will come by text or voice message to my cell phone if they can’t reach me on the landline.

  20. Elaine says:

    fortunately I no longer have a land line and don’t really want to get one for the very reason of the robocalls. I do get them on my cell phone despite being on the Do not call list several times, but fortunately they are not as often as some get them. okay now I hope those drones are not hovering over my computer screen as I type this! Don’t want to press my luck. lol wish I had other suggestions to help you Sheri because I understand your frustration.

    • Hello, Elaine – Thanks for dropping by. We have to keep a land line due to Tom having a pacemaker. The function of the pacemaker is checked once a month and for that to happen, we must have a land line and it cannot be wireless. Thankfully I still had an old Princess telephone from back in the day.
      I would however keep the land line even if Tom didn’t need it for his pacemaker check. Our ‘911’ emergency number is connected to the land line and hasn’t been upgraded yet to include cell phones for location.
      An additional reason is that the big telephone companies want to get rid of all telephone lines in several states. These states are primarily rural and the wide open spaces cover thousands of acres. If the telephone companies are allowed to stop maintenance to the lines currently in place, thousands of elderly individuals would be cut-off from another human being.
      I grew up in such an area and I would never give in to having only a cell phone. The closest tower is over 300 miles away! Needless to say, the land line is critical for these individuals.

  21. I gave up on the Do Not Call list ages ago. I get repeated calls a day. I don’t even turn them in anymore. I keep them on the phone as long as possible and mess with them. It’s actually fun.

  22. chris13jkt says:

    It’s really irritating, and the frequency tends to be higher lately. Not only in your country, but in my country as well 😦

  23. atempleton says:

    Good advice and information. I’m tempted to get rid of my land line phone because of these calls.

  24. It is so annoying. We’re on the no-call list and yet it doesn’t stop. We’ve been getting close to 5 a days most days. Now we filter but why should we have to. And, yes scams. Thank you!

  25. cindy knoke says:

    so irritating, thanks for the helpful info~

  26. Anonymous says:

    so irritating, thanks for the helpful infor!

  27. I always love reading your posts because they are written so well, very clearly. So it is obvious to me that you don’t have a very strong opinion on this subject 😉
    I realize getting rid of your landline is not an option for you. Too bad because this very issue is why I dumped mine. Hate those things! One of the plagues of modern society.

  28. I get very few phone calls to my land line but prefer to make my calls “from” the land line since calling cell to cell often makes for disrupted conversations due to outside noise and the reception is never ever as clear as landline to landline. I receive several calls a day from god knows who and I don’t answer and they always hang up but, like you, I don’t like them waking up other people in the house so often I’ll just pick up the phone then hang it up again. They don’t call back til the next day!

  29. Bruce Goodman says:

    I always say, “Just before you continue, have ever thought about becoming a Catholic?” They hang up immediately!

  30. Lignum Draco says:

    All good advice, and not just for the U.S.

    My landline is listed on our national do not call register. I recently had a day off, and no one i know knew I would be at home. I was amazed how many times the phone rang. I never answered any of them, but immediately checked the dialling number on the internet. All telemarketers with complaints about them. They get around the do not call register by claiming to be research groups rather than marketers.

    I have a blanket policy. I NEVER buy or give personal information over the phone or at the door if I have not initiated the contact. If it is a worthy cause/purchase, I will take the company’s details and contact them at my convenience using their official listed details after I have done further investigations. The same with hawkers on the street.

  31. Great information Sheri. I have an unlisted land line number, but have on occasion received robocalls. A mechanical voice today promised to award me thousands of points (didn’t catch what kind). I hung up. I am no longer curious. 🙂

  32. jbw0123 says:

    I’ve pretty much stopped using my land line. When someone does call the land line, and there is that tell tale pause while the robo picks up, I hang up. This got me into trouble recently when my son’s girl friend’s Lebanese mother tried for two days to reach me, and I kept thinking she was a solicitor and hanging up on her. Thanks for the excellent tips on protecting privacy.

  33. I’ve been getting them on my cell phone lately. That’s even more annoying.

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