Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Can I Get a Robot to Answer All of My Robocalls?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Can I Get a Robot to Answer All of My Robocalls?

Article excerpt

The biggest downside to working from home?

Well, that would be my home phone, which rings all day even though hardly anyone I know ever calls me.

Just having a "home phone" nowadays is a retro concept. Today, phones are those sleek, flat things you carry around in your pocket so you can text people, check your Facebook page and play stupid games when you're in the bathroom.

(One friend lost her iPhone two Tuesdays ago and couldn't go to the bathroom again until she found the phone on Friday.)

In 2015 most of the calls that most of us get on our home phones are robocalls.

These are calls, made by robots, from credit agencies you don't do business with; energy companies you've never heard of; rug shampooers; chimney sweeps; and anyone else with a robot and a dream.

I get between 6 and 10 of these calls a day. At first I would just ignore them and not answer the phone. But then I wound up with 10 new messages every day on my voice mail.

Eventually, I came up with another strategy: Pick up the phone and then hang up -- CLICK! -- after three or four seconds.

"Hi, this is your credit card company ..."

CLICK.

"Good afternoon, did you know that a recent change in the energy ..."

CLICK.

"Hello Billy, it's Mom ..."

CLICK.

Oops.

I thought I would stop these calls if I answered and hung up quickly. But answering and hanging up quickly did nothing of the sort. Two hours later, whoever I hung up on -- including my relatives -- would call back.

The Do Not Call Registry? Been there. Done that. And for what?

I've registered with Do Not Call, and Please Don't Call, and Call Me Again and I'll Break Your Legs; and, of course, Shove This Call.

Waste of time.

There are also plenty of scammers out there. In one popular scam that began this year, you look at your Caller ID and see your own telephone number.

Now what? Is there a robot on an extension in my basement? Am I calling myself from the future? Should I report my number and have myself blocked?

Last Thursday, when the phone rang, I looked at my Caller ID and saw the name of my health insurance company.

Hmm ...

I picked up the phone and was greeted by a woman who knew my name and asked if I wanted to start getting my prescriptions by mail. …

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