Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Caller, Beware

"Your choice is to be active or passive in your response,"
~  Deborah Day

I had intended to post something quite different this week, and then I got that telephone call, that very annoying call.  "Private caller" on my caller ID.  Area code I didn't recognize, but thought faintly familiar.  So, curious, I decided to answer it, half expecting that no one would be there.

"Hello, Angela.  This is Kevin from HP.  We are receiving warnings that your printer is sending some strange messages to your computer that will damage your hard drive if not corrected immediately.  So I need you to go to your computer so that I can help you fix this problem."  

All delivered in one breath and in an accent from the Philippines, or India, or Sri Lanka, or some nation where I doubt Kevin is a common name.

Assuming the most mature, civil tone of voice I could muster up, I responded, "Stop, please. I do not recognize this number as coming from HP and I will have my own computer support check to see if there is a problem, so thanks, but no thanks.  And I'm hanging up now. Good-bye."

A moment later, another call.  Same number.  Not prone to passivity, I answered it.  

"Hello, Angela.  We were cut off.  Let me explain...."

"No, Kevin, we weren't.  I hung up."

"But, Angela, if you will just listen to me."

Not as concerned with maturity or civility this time, I responded, "No, Kevin, the problem isn't that I won't listen to you.  It's that you haven't listened to me.  I don't want your help.  I don't believe you are calling from HP and if you call again, I will call my lawyer and issue a complaint of harassment."  

This time Kevin hung up and didn't even say good-bye!  He did not call a third time and  I rather suspect my number has been taken off his call list.

Now, I don't want to become passive, but I also don't want to become paranoiac, nor cynical, so I decided to run the call and my response past Austin, my computer support.

"No, Angela, your instincts weren't wrong.  You'd be surprised how many people have been scammed by calls like that or how much money they lose in the process.  These con men especially target seniors.  You did the right thing.  And you were smart to check in with us."

Why do they target us?  Because they think we're gullible or trust "authority" too easily?  Or don't know enough about technology (or the IRS, etc., etc.)?  Or are too passive or polite or weary to challenge them?  

Well, I derive some satisfaction in knowing "Kevin" won't think this senior gullible or passive or totally ignorant about computers!  Certainly not too polite.

My only regret is that I didn't capture "Kevin's" telephone number so I could find a way to report him and whomever he is working with/for.  I know that blocking such calls is an option.  I've researched the ways to do so and will be because there are other battles I am more invested in fighting.  But I do so reluctantly, because it only protects me, while doing little to put these predators out of business.

So, until such calls are blocked, or if any get through, I will answer and I will respond - actively.

 You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list by phone or on the Internet at no cost. To register via the Internet, go to To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register.

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