Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams

The Cell Phone: A Failed Technology At The End Of Its Life

If half the calls coming into your phone are scams, do you answer the phone when you don't see someone from your contacts? Slate magazine says calls went out of fashion before 2010, and they are only the domain of old people and frauds.

The answer should be "no". The chances that it's legitimate are too small. There are even products "apps" on the market to help winnow calls, trying to tell you if they are in that half, like Hiya (IOS and Android). Why don't I recommend them? Because call scammers can call you from any number they want to, so blocking calls from a number doesn't work out all that well. They just shift to the next number. I have gotten four calls in a day, all from different numbers, all with the same recorded voice pretending to be the Social Security Administration cancelling my social security number. As if I would believe that the federal government has telephones! My whole life, they have operated only by mail. I don't think they deal with plebs like me in any other way.

Ways that work:

1. Put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" and set it so only "favorites" or "contacts" get through. Everyone else counts as a missed call, and you can review them at your leisure, and if they want to sell you something, the game is to see how long you can keep them on the line.

2. Use a Google Assistant to screen calls.

3. Only use calls from "mysudo" (app, IOS, not free). The calls won't be high quality, and are easily interrupted, but you can have trash numbers to hand out that you won't answer. Another NEW approach to that burner number is based on this article from Popular Science, which recommends alternative programs.

4. (New) Use Robokiller recommended by a friend of mine who used to get a lot of calls. They try to fingerprint callers so they recognize them no matter what number they use. New approach. Not free, but if you have to answer, probably a good choice.

My recommendation: First one on the list. If you miss an important call from a friend, add his number to your contacts.

Ways that do not work:

1. The Do Not Call List. Any exception to that list includes political calls and includes people who say you've given your consent on page 32 of their 50 page form contract you had to sign to use their service. And call scammers don't care, because they don't expect to be found if you report them: they're stealing someone else's number anyway.

2. Blocking numbers on your phone. The number that you see on your phone is a fake. It doesn't tie back to the scammer: sometimes, I've called back and gotten people on the other end who don't believe their numbers were used to sell timeshares.


UPDATED with the Popular Science recommendation reorganized for clarity. Further updated with Slate Magazine reference.
Tags: cell, phone, scam

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