Date: Nov 6, 2018
By: Joel Lazer, FCPA, FCA, CIRP

Robocalls are becoming more annoying than spam emails.  There aren’t as many of them, but they can be more intrusive.  The phone rings and arrests our attention.  At least emails wait until we get around to checking them.

I have stopped answering calls from numbers I do not recognize.  I figure they’ll leave a message if they want me to call them back.  Exercising the discretion not to answer helps to alleviate the annoyance of the ring.

Maybe you’ve answered some of these calls:

  1. It’s “Canada Revenue Agency” threatening to take dire action if you do not pay right away. Credit cards are accepted.  Don’t fall for it.  CRA does not take payment by credit cards.  Hang up.
  2. The call is from your area code but you don’t recognize the number. Let the caller leave a message.
  3. A call may record your response and use it for fraudulent purposes. For example, if you say, “Yes,” that recording could be used to approve a transaction without your knowledge.  If you’re asked, “Can you hear me?” respond with, “I can hear you.”  Or hang up.
  4. Pressing 1 or any other key in response lets the caller/machine know they’ve reached a live person and not an answering machine.
  5. Artificial intelligence and digital voice generators are combining to make you think you are talking to a live person. A strategy to identify them is to ask the caller to repeat a phrase back to you.  Saying, “I am not a robot,” is likely to be met with something like, “There is a live person here.”  This area will improve for the benefit of the robocallers as the technology becomes more sophisticated.

The Jolly Roger Telephone Company will soon be available in Canada.  They connect your caller to one of their robots.  I listened to one on YouTube.   Pretty funny.  It’s a way to “fight back” against the annoying and unwanted telemarketers.

There are a number of apps to block spam calls.  I am sure there are a lot more stories and anecdotes out there.  You are welcome to share yours.

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