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Reviews |  Automated calls aren’t even the worst


I am happy to inform you that the federal government is relaunching the war on robocalls.

I checked out how things were right after I hung up on a thin-voiced woman who wanted to warn me that my car’s extended warranty was going to expire unless I hit 1. In case I did. I couldn’t care less, she could take me off the call list forever if I pressed 2.

Public Service Announcement: People, don’t press 2. It’s the evil twin sister of the press 1.

Automated calls refer to anything that happens to your phone through automatic dialing. This can include legal things you want to hear about, like a snowy day.

But we only think of those who are not invited. Like “Chris from US Autocare” who hung up when I asked him how he got my name and number or the recorded voice of an alleged Citibank representative who warned me about “suspicious activity” on my phone. map that could only be rectified by pressing 1 right one way.

Phone companies are now required to install cool new technology that allows them to stop these robocalls from going through. Unfortunately, when the US Public Interest Research Group checked the 49 largest such companies, only 16 appeared to have completed the job by mid-September.

And even more sadly, it looks like the crooks are finding a new route that makes them even harder to avoid. We’ll get to that in a second.

First of all, good news! Fraudulent robocalls fell about 11% from July through August, according to YouMail, a robocall blocking company that tracks these things.

(Bad news! Thanks to the drop, we only got about $ 1.4 billion in August.)

One of the FCC’s big new weapons in the war on callers is known as STIR / SHAKEN, further proof that everything in this world has a strange name.

Question: What does STIR / SHAKEN mean?

A) Revisited secure telephone identity and signature-based processing of claimed information using toKENs.

B) Different ways of making mixed drinks.

C) Someone took the robot from Irene / Sylvia has attractive knees; Evelyn Not a lot.

I know, I know, you all liked the one with the booze in it.

STIR / SHAKEN aims to make it very difficult for automated callers to use fake caller IDs. If you saw a piece of ID on your phone stating that the “scam risk” was online, I bet you wouldn’t answer it. But what if you just saw a phone number with your area code? Maybe a telemarketing con artist. Or maybe something real that you don’t want to miss. (Hey, wasn’t Uncle Fred talking about going to a wildlife preserve that lets you hand feed bears?)

False identity is known as impersonation. And anyone can do it. You can purchase services that allow you to appear to be dialing from a different number. The theory, its sellers boast, is that it allows you to protect your privacy. Teresa Murray of US PIRG notes that this would also allow you to impersonate the IRS or Chase or Amazon or whatever – “they even have the ability to change your voice to someone of the opposite sex. Isn’t it the swell? “

Despite all the drawbacks, the regulations against robocalls in all their variations are quite comprehensive and the government is working hard to make them work in real life.

We will now stop for 30 seconds while you guess what comes after the inevitable “But …”

No, it’s not “But we’re worried about all these unemployed telemarketers.” “

The answer is: but while fraudulent robocalls plummeted over the summer, scam SMS was on the rise. Zoom.

Yes! SMS spam! RoboKiller, a filtering app, said the number of text messages sent to the United States could reach 86 billion in 2021. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that Americans lost about $ 86 million because of texting last year.

The FCC really needs to put robotexting at the top of its application list, but that might not work until Congress gives it more authority.

“Everyone expects this is where the bad guys are going to gravitate,” Murray said.

Spam messages can be very short (“You won!”) ​​And there is no human voice to remind you that this message is actually coming from a complete stranger.

Keep in mind that the rules for dealing with them are pretty much the same as with a recorded message: don’t even respond to suggestions that you’re just letting the texter know that you want to be left alone. Don’t press anything. Really, ignore the sucker. Even if he promises to be gone forever if you just tell him – uh, text him – to stop. No SMS return!

So are those phone calls. The ideal answer is always to hang up. If you respond, even to say “Stop bothering me,” the computer may try to connect you with a direct seller.

Which encourages them to a minimum. “Honestly you shouldn’t be answering calls, and for goodness sake you shouldn’t be pressing 1,” Murray said. “No pressure, no screaming, no air horn, no boat horn. No nothing.”

Yes, some people apparently went to war with robocallers so intensely that they started honking into the phone’s receiver. And I have to admit it sounds fascinating. As long as you don’t live in the apartment next door.