My phone rang a few minutes ago: “This is Microsoft calling.”
Someone’s trying to hack my computer, see, and if I don’t quick call this number and ask Microsoft to rescue me, the bad guys will get all my personal and financial information and then they’ll destroy all my files and my computer will be “obsolete.” I am sure that wasn’t the right word.
I didn’t believe it, so I hung up. I reckoned something bad would happen if I called the number that they gave me.
How many poor devils fall for this, and what does it cost them? The answers are not pleasant to imagine.
The scammers are refining their technique. No more getting a call from someone with a thick foreign accent telling you to send $5,000 worth of Target gift cards to some weird address in Peedlestan, which you’d better do in one big hurry if you want them to save you from a fate worse than death. Sure, a few people fell for that. But the new scam is better.
“Khello, this Vase Present Joe Biden is, i am calling becose kheep big crinimuls they are trying only to khack your computer and be your privet information stealing-stealing…” Really, they had to make that a little more convincing. And so they have.
What can I say? Hang up. Just hang up.
Whole Foods offers a discount to Amazon Prime members; but we couldn’t get ours today because we haven’t got a mobile phone.
When my wife called about that, the woman at Whole Foods corporate offices apologized: they had no idea that so many people choose not to have cell phones. Half the calls they were getting today, she said, were from Amazon Prime members who don’t have cell phones. “We never thought of it!” she admitted. So their programmers are working on some way of making the discount available to us who have only land lines.
So why don’t we have a mobile phone?
The thing is, if you have one, people call you on it. There’s no point in having one if you don’t carry it around with you. And then they can get at you while you’re grocery shopping, playing basketball, or trying to drive your car in nerve-racking Jersey traffic without getting killed. “Hello! This is Romaine from Fumble Bay Resorts! Our records show that you stayed with us for two weeks in 1974 and had a wonderful time…” Lie. Scam. Trying to bamboozle poor senior citizens. Plus all these jidrools text you with ads all the time, which you wind up paying for.
Well, it was gratifying to learn that we have a lot of company in this.
Land liners, stand firm! Enough technology is enough.
Some of these people, if they worked as hard at something honest as they do at crime, could make a pretty good living without the risk of being sent to jail. But the scam artist’s ego won’t let him do that: he needs to feel superior to us poor schnooks who obey the law.
Lately we’ve been getting more and more nuisance phone calls. Whatever happened to that “do not call” list, I dunno. We have been searching for ways to turn the tables on these pests. Here are some suggestions. When a telemarketer calls:
*Try a lot of heavy breathing, without saying anything. Maybe throw in kind of a breathy little laugh, as if you were visualizing yourself tying Little Nell to the railroad tracks.
*If it’s a real person at the other end of the line, do a bit of acting, make yourself sound anxious, and ask, “Is this about the murder?” Give away no particulars, but act confused.
*More likely, it’s a robo-call. I don’t know what happens if you wait patiently–I don’t have that much patience–for the opportunity to respond, and then project some kind of loud, long, nerve shattering noise into the phone. Something like a tea kettle boiling over, say. Or turn on some horrible rap music, or an odious commercial, turn up the volume, and press the phone to the speaker.
I don’t guarantee that any of these will work, and I welcome suggestions as to how to relieve this irritation. “Hi! This is Jennifer! And our records show you stayed at one of our Halitosis Castle resorts recently–!” And it’s all a big fat lie because you haven’t stayed at anybody’s resort in 15 or 20 years…
Somehow, somewhere, there’s got to be a solution to this problem.
Would you buy something from, or donate money to, a computer posing as a human being? Well, you would if you were balmy.
The newest thing in scam artistry is the robo-call disguised as a live human. It is a disguise that would only fool another robot, but they think it’ll fool you. Well, hey, we twice elected Obama president: I’m sure they’ve taken that into consideration.
It goes like this.
MAN: Nobody here by that name, you have a wrong number.
ROBOT: Oh, that’s all right! I was calling everybody in your neighborhood anyway…
Here the person usually hangs up. But now I think I’d like to continue the conversation and see what happens.
PERSON: Is this about the murder?
I want to see how the robot is programmed to handle that. What do you want to bet it doesn’t say “What murder?”
ROBOT: Our records show that you have stayed at our resort, Bedbug Manor, twice before and are qualified to receive our one-time only Satisfied Customer Discount…
By this time you gotta be clued in: you are not talking to a human being. You should either hang up or leave the phone off the hook where your cat can get at it, while you move on to some other detail of your daily life.
So my wife answered the phone this morning and it was a computer-generated robot voice saying that “The federal government has filed a lawsuit against you…”
Ooh, that sounds scary! Would that be the whole federal government, collectively, suing us, or just some part of it? The robot didn’t say. IRS, Dept. of Defense, Homeland Security, NASA, Dept. of Agriculture–you could spend all day listing them, and still not finish. Oh, the suspense! Which agency of the federal government is gunning for us?
Not to worry, though. The robot said all we had to do was call this number which, as a reasonably moral individual, I will not reproduce here. Yup, just call this here number and everything’ll be hunky-dory, we’ll walk you through it… just as soon as you give us a little information…
How stupid do you have to be, to fall for this? Never mind, don’t tell me.
Somebody just explain to me again why it’s so bad to teach our children the Ten Commandments.