Don’t pick up the phone

I don’t know anyone from Pine Bluff, Arkansas or from Lima, Ohio or even from San Bernadino, California. Do you? Even so, people move all over the country and now they take their crazy area codes—no long recognizable to mere mortals—with them. So I might know them.

Wrong. Pretty much every time I do pick up the phone with a number I don’t recognize, I get a long silence followed by a click to a pre-recorded ramble and I hang up. Rarer but tougher to deal with is the fast-talking person. Good manners say I shouldn’t hang up, but increasingly that’s just what I’m doing. I don’t want what they’re selling and I don’t want to be scammed.

On average, Americans receive 2.4 billion Robocalls—per month. That’s up a billion per month from last year. If you haven’t done it already, register your phones—landlines and cell phones—with the National Do Not Call Registry.  It helps a little.

You can’t fight the machine. Robocall programmers are getting smarter. The next generation of Robocalls is using my area code and my exchange (the first three digits of my phone number) so that it looks like a neighbor—but it’s not.

Even if you say just one word, like YES to a question posed by the pre-recording, a recording of your ‘YES’ can later be used to allow unauthorized charges on your credit card.

Here’s what I do to deal with the many Robocalls I receive even though I’m on the Do Not Call Registry.

  1. I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number. If the caller doesn’t leave a message, I block the number then delete the call. If they really want me, they’ll send an email.
  2. I pick up the phone and don’t say a word. I tried this and after a few seconds I was disconnected. The machines are just looking for active numbers. Silence = inactive to a Robocall. I still block the call just in case.
  3. I put special ringtones for the phone numbers of the people I really do want to hear from. The rest? They can wait. I’ll get back to them—if they leave me a message.

Not ideal, but this works for me. If you want some more excellent tips, check out this article.


4 thoughts on “Don’t pick up the phone

  1. Great set of tips! Thank you – robocalls are the bane of my existence, so anything I can do to stop them or at least slow the frequency of robocalls is more than helpful.

  2. Dear Chance,

    I have to admit, it was pretty hard to stop picking up that phone. Who knows who could be at the other end. Now I know. A poor Artificial Intelligence voice pretending it’s real. What happens when AI actually catches up to us…

    Dr. Mo

  3. By all means NEVER say YES, the first question sometimes is can you hear me clearly, hang up. There are a lot of innocent folks especially seniors who don’t understand, good idea have a talk with parents who are from a more trusting generation.
    Thanks for the info!

  4. Dear Dave H,

    It is so tough to not follow directions when you’re being told what to do! I completely agree that a discussion with older parents and friends is well worth it for them not to get ripped off or worse. Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think might need it. Print it out if that’s what’s required! Old school is sometimes the only way to go.

    Thanks for sharing this insight.

    Dr. Mo

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