I gets lots of spam/phishing emails but also an increasing number of unsolicited telephone calls until I took some action. These calls range from legitimate companies cold calling to illegitimate scammers trying to trick me into divulging information or buying something that I don’t need.
Basically, I have never bought anything from anyone that has cold called me. Even if I took a call and was interested in, “double glazing”, “home security” or whatever else they are selling, I will always make a point to never buy from a cold call. So whatever I buy, I research myself online including looking at customer reviews or by asking friends opinions and I buy in my own time from a company that I trust.
In this short article I’ll share my tactics for dealing with unwanted callers.
I have an answering machine and caller display that helps me to decide if I want to answer a call in the first place. So unless I’m expecting a call from a number I don’t know, then I usually let it run to the answering machine and they will leave a message if the call is legitimate. Nine times out of ten it is not so they do not leave a message and I don’t get interrupted.
There are occasions when I do answer an unknown number particularly if I’m waiting for a call and I don’t know what number it will come from. Sometimes, even though I’m not expecting a call, I do answer them so that I can shout at people. My responses do range and I sometimes try out different ones. Sometimes I forget but usually I ask who they are and how they got my number. I absolutely never give anyone, when I’m buying or filling out a form, permission to contact me by telephone and I never allow their partners to do so either.
I like questioning the validity of what the caller is saying; I love those ones where they claim to be from Microsoft or Windows Support (see below) and that they can see what’s happening on my apparently virus-riddled computer. Note: they can’t see what’s on your computer and will ask you to look in the Windows Event Viewer (which always has some critical errors) in the hope of gaining your trust. They will get you to install software from their website which gives them complete control of your computer. There are many variations of what happens next and if you are lucky you’ll only lose a couple of hundred pounds. Normally, I tell them that I don’t believe they can see my computer but Microsoft’s advice is to ask them their full name and employee number and ring Microsoft directly (not the phone number they will give you).
On one occasion I just screamed “arrrggghhh” every time they spoke until they hung up. Well I found it funny and maybe they did too.
If the call takes too long to engage then I know it’s an automated dialling system and it’s in the process of putting me through to the salesperson. Sometimes, I don’t bother to wait a second or two and just put the phone down to stop it ringing. They are interrupting me and not the other way around. I know I shouldn’t give them a hard time as these people are just doing their job but if there was no one willing to cold call, companies couldn’t do it. A bit like traffic wardens in that respect (only joking, I’m sure there are some reasonable ones out there).
In the UK you can register for free with the Telephone Preference Service (or the National Do Not Call Registry in the US) and that should cut down the number of sales calls considerably after a month or two. I did this a few years back, so now I know that every unwanted call will come from an illegitimate source and I don’t mind shouting at them!