Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Web Secret 524: Robocalls
So imagine how not surprised I was when I came across a New York Times article that confirmed what I already knew: robocalls are proliferating because it is so damn cheap to send them out by the thousands.
Better yet, the Times had a companion article "Robocalls Flooding Your Cellphone? Here’s How to Stop Them."
Let me summarize it for you:
Rule No. 1: Do not answer numbers you don’t know. If you do answer, don’t respond to the invitation to press a number to opt out. That will merely verify that yours is a working number and make you a target for more calls. Turn to the government
Rule No. 2: Turn to technology.Download apps such as Truecaller which will block the calls. YouMail will stop your phone from ringing with calls from suspected robocallers and deliver a message that your number is out of service. Many of these apps are quite pricey. Hiya is free.
Rule No. 3: Turn the tables. The Jolly Roger Telephone Company turns the tables on telemarketers. This program allows a customer to put the phone on mute and patch telemarketing calls to a robot, which understands speech patterns and inflections and works to keep the caller engaged.
The robots string the callers along with vocal fillers like “Uh-huh” and “O.K., O.K.” After several minutes, some will ask the callers to repeat their sales pitch from the beginning, prompting the telemarketers to have angry meltdowns.
Rule No. 4: Watch what you say. One recent scheme involves getting consumers to say “yes” and later using a recording of the response to allow unauthorized charges on the person’s credit card account, the F.C.C. warned in March.
When the caller asks, “Can you hear me?” and the consumer answers “yes,” the caller can gain a voice signature that can later be used to authorize fraudulent charges by telephone.
Best to answer with “I can hear you.”
The future: The callers are evolving. Some have numbers that appear to be from your area code; others employ “imitation of life” software in which the robocall sounds like a live person, complete with coughing, laughing and background noise. This artificial intelligence can be programmed to interact in real time with a consumer.
I'm scared too.