John Colson: Go get ’em, Andy and Jane!
Hit & Run
I see by the news that an attorney acquaintance of mine and his wife, who live in our valley, are suing the pants off a bunch of telemarketing, robo-calling trolls who habitually target “vulnerable” portions of the U.S. population through repeated, deceptive and fraudulent attempts to milk the targets’ hard-earned savings from them.
I applaud their action and hope beyond measure that they will be successful in dampening the surge in robo-calls that have plagued them, me and millions of others.
I, for reasons having to do more with temperament and amusement, happen to still have a land line into my home, which I hang on to because I really like the phone number assigned to my line (and no, I will not give my number here).
Unhappily, I have realized that the telemarketers have latched onto my line as leading to one of those supposedly vulnerable and gullible aging people whose fears about life have been magnified as they grow older, and who truly are vulnerable to the dishonest, essentially criminal robo-calls by which they are harassed every day, many times a day.
In my case, however, they are wrong, and I regularly get into phone fights with the nameless (oh, sometimes they give a name, but I assume it’s a false one), often foreign-sounding callers whose only goal is to separate me from my money.
The lawsuit mentioned above, by Andy Quiat and Jane Keener-Quiat, is aimed only at one subset of the robo-calling universe, the ones with the auto-warranty scam.
If this suit is in any way successful, however, there may be a good chance that it will be used as a model for other, similar suits intended to stop these harassing calls in their tracks.
And if that occurs, all I can say is, it’s about time someone took on these creeps, since our government clearly is neither willing nor able to do so.
Part of the problem, of course, is that it seems as though there literally are hundreds of outfits out there who have concluded that by peppering us with phone calls they will wear us down and get us to open up our bank accounts.
In the auto-warranty realm, if you haven’t been exposed to them, a caller advises you that your original auto warranty has expired and you must act quickly to get your car or truck covered. If you do not, the implication is you are opening yourself up to financial ruin the next time something goes wrong with your ride.
In my case, we have a couple of old vehicles (a Prius and a pickup, if you must know) that would not qualify for any kind of warranty simply because they’re old enough to still have radios with knobs and CD players rather than a digital hookup to Sirius or some other new-fangled audio service.
Anyways, we get these calls far too often, and I’ve wasted a lot of time thinking up ways to derail this juggernaut of fraud that barrels down our phone line too damned often.
Even more irritating than the warranty scams, though, are the calls and emails that inform us that our recent purchase of some high-priced electronic gizmo (television, computer, what have you) has been approved and billed to our credit card, and seeking some kind of confirmation of said purchase.
Naturally, they’re full of crap, we’ve made no such purchase and wouldn’t if we could, nothing has been billed, and some of the most satisfying phone-fights I’ve had have been with these drones. In more than one case, the drones grew so frustrated with my haggling and my anger that they swore at me and hung up.
Another trolling scam I deeply despise is the offer to clean up my computer, which really is nothing more than an attempt to gain access to my device and rob me blind before I can blink.
What really burns my shorts is the fact that these calls often refer to my “PC,” meaning a Microsoft clone of one sort or another, which happens to not exist in my home. I’m a Macintosh man, have been since the iMac first appeared, and wouldn’t own a PC clone on a bet.
The first time a Mac was mentioned, in an email, I made the mistake of calling the number to see what it was all about (this was years ago, before I wised up).
Before I knew it, the troll was in my computer wandering around, and I started yelling at him to get the hell out, which he did after a while, possibly having learned that I had no financial information in my computer at all.
He swore at me, too, which was a crushing blow to my fragile ego, but no real damage was done.
And then there is the call from “Social Security” advising me that my SS account has been shut down due to “suspicious activity” and directing me to call a number to straighten it out. All lies. The SS Administration does not make these kinds of calls. It’s a scam. Do nothing and hang up.
All this is a way of saying, “Go get ’em, Andy and Jane.”
What am I going to do? I’m going to learn a lot about you, us, myself. I’m going to learn about our grit, our character, our very souls as only such tests can reach.
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