When a Robot Calls

There’s a fine line between amazingly effective advertising and marketing and super-creepy advertising and marketing. Somewhere in between, there are election campaigns, opinion polls, and research. Closer to the creepy end of the spectrum, there are robot dialing machines that call you – and hang up when you answer.

Candidates and corporations are taking “imposition” to a whole new level and bringing their A-games. I’ve just stopped answering my phone. Leave a message; I’ll call you back. Maybe. I need an industrial shredder just to keep up with the unwanted snail mail, but that’s another story for another time. I think of all the wasted time and money, then marvel at the realization that it must work – or surely they wouldn’t do it. I weep for those it works on. And I kind of want to ban them from using electronics for a year – for all our sakes.

And I’m keeping track of companies having questionable ethics and rudely aggressive advertising tactics. I won’t be buying what they’re selling.

Caller ID Spoofing

Anyone who remembers the movie “When a Stranger Calls” will understand why I woke up in a cold sweat the day Caller ID showed a phone call coming from my own phone number – on my land line. And how do you report your own phone number for spam? Caller ID Spoofing is of dubious legality. But how do you prove it’s done with “intent to defraud” and how do you report it? It simply renders Caller ID useless. It also means that someone could carelessly, randomly, or maliciously “spoof” your number, resulting in you being blacklisted on any number of “Report Spam Calls” sites on the Internet.

Doubt it? How’s this for an example?


I don’t know if Frank Hartmut (or Hartmut Frank) of Fremont, CA is a spammer or if he’s even a real person. What I do know is that, as reported by another person on the White Pages app, this is a number that sends me valid (and expected) WordPress verification codes via text messages. So for me, it’s not spam and it’s not fraud – well, not exactly. Why is WordPress using a number listed as belonging to “Hartmut Frank”? Notice that others’ experiences with this same number are different. And this number may belong to some innocent person in Fremont who has never heard of the White Pages app and doesn’t know that it could be automatically blocking their calls – even to friends.

Three years ago, the FTC awarded $50,000 to be split evenly between computer engineer Serdar Danis and freelance software developer Aaron Foss for “Best Overall Solution” to the illegal robocall problem.  Two Google engineers, Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson, won the large organization award (a non-monetary, or “bragging rights,” award). So where are these solutions? I’m getting about seven calls a day on each line – both the land line and the mobile phone.

“Punishable by death” might be a bit harsh. I need more coffee. My kinder, gentler nature is losing the battle, today. Email spoofing should also be illegal; that’s been giving good users a bad name since the early 1990s, at least.




Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
Please share this post!

10 thoughts on “When a Robot Calls”

  1. From your own phone? That’s horrifying. Who have you annoyed? Or are you just lucky?

    The landline is now treated as follows: it rings four times. Then there is a short message. People who want to be heard patiently wait through the whole thing and then start talking. They have been instructed to talk long enough for us to pick up – if we’re here.

    If everyone does this, there is going to be a lot of annoying telephone tag, but this is the only sure way not to talk to scammers or robots.

    My husband has phone duty most of the day – it doesn’t seem to annoy him (he doesn’t have CFS – it doesn’t cripple him as it does me). When we’re watching TV, we don’t even stop until we’re sure it’s someone we want to talk to.

    In a former universe, our behavior would be rude.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Why I cannot read your writingMy Profile

  2. I’ve had that happen on both of my phones; it was freaky the first time but not so much the second time. Once my cellphone called me; have to admit that seemed strangest of all.

    Luckily, I have a motto that if I don’t recognize the number I won’t answer. When it was my number I didn’t answer it, remembering a famous Foghorn Leghorn line: “No, I better not; it just might be me.” Okay, that’s paraphrased a bit, but still… lol
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…The Spam In Our Blogging LivesMy Profile

    1. Did your cell phone call your cell phone? 😉 My cell phone has a weird habit of occasionally deciding to call people. Not just “butt dialing” (that does happen) but dialing someone from across the room. I don’t know – it’s like Finngelo (my phone’s name) decides it’s been too long since I talked to someone, and calls them. It’s usually one of my frequently called numbers, but not always.

  3. Craaaaaap! I guess you should look at it this way:
    Look how POPULAR you are!
    Or, as Jean Chretien used to pronounce it: Poo-pew-lar!!!

    Of course, your mileage may vary.

    Can you not BLOCK some of these &^%&%&^%%^#$#%$%$** ?????

    And take heart: The USA election will be over soon.
    And then, “America will be great again”.
    You DO believe everything politicians promise, right?

    What’s that? You want to write a story about a numbletyscoop, that believed that sort of thing?
    A horror story, where it DOES all come true?
    And the guy is 5-8, 175 lbs, 60, dark brown hair, mustache, glasses, and very weird?
    Huuuummm. Rings a bell! Seems familiar…..
    But I cannot quite place him!

    Hang in there! Take care, LLAP.
    And when they ask you who you are voting for:

    I’m blonde.
    It is illegal for use to vote down here.
    Have a nice day.

    They might believe that, and leave you alone……

    1. I did once ask the young Republicans if KGB agents were allowed to vote in US elections. They suddenly weren’t too keen on registering me. That was in college. I didn’t feel like explaining that I was too young to vote.

  4. We can block promo calls here. Occasionally some calls do come through but so far they have all been with real life people talking and they can be handled quite brusquely.
    Rummuser recently posted…Daydreams.My Profile

  5. We’ve taken to keeping our ringers off on our phone. Should we see it ringing and don’t recognize the number, on the rare occasion that I want to annoy the solicitor on the other end, I’ll answer with, “Jefferson Correctional Facility. How may I direct your call.” If the caller on the other end is not listening and asks for someone in the house, I’ll explain to them that prisoners are not allowed to take calls.

    Looking forward to your shredder post.

Comments are closed.