LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hangups over tele-scammers

Eleven tele-scammers called my house recently. I get an average of four or five calls per day. Some days, I get one or two; other days I can get 12-13. The police and government agencies will put out scam warnings, but let me tell you this: if your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number, you have a 98-percent chance of it being a scam. Ask yourself this: Does, or why would, anyone call me with a deal that’s good for me? Some are legal, but most are just plain ripoffs and scams.

I get the usual calls such as the I.R.S. has warrants for my arrest; Microsoft calling to tell me that my computer has been sending them messages. Cardmember Services, Google listings, etc. I get them all, over and over. You can push “2” to get off the list, you can ask nicely, you can ask rudely, I’ve begged, but you’re never removed from any list. If anything, you’re added to more lists.

There’s even a fellow that calls and says he’s calling on behalf of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). He’s collecting for them; I believe he’s legit, but a hired gun to collect because he’ll answer questions. However, one answer to a question is that the F.O.P. gets 15 percent of money raised, meaning they keep 85 percent. I contacted Dover PD and Delaware State Police, and no one knows anything about this. So, beware of that one. I fully support the police, but I’ll just donate directly when I do. I just learned of a new scam where you answer and can’t understand what is said. Then you hear “can you hear me now?” which is a recording. Then you say “yes,” which gives your permission for them to do whatever it is that they are trying to do.

I typically never answer the phone, but over the years, I’ve answered at times for one reason or another, and the responses I get are remarkable. I get the one that hangs up on you as soon as you answer, usually just a click. Then they guy/ girl reading a script, and as soon as you don’t follow along and ask a question, they hang up on you. There are others that just get foul when you don’t follow the program.

The latest trend is using the Internet to hijack phone lines. I’ve had calls where MY name and number showed up on the caller ID. I’ve had the “State of Delaware” show up, as well as the Dover Air Force Base clinic appointment line. Usually, it’s some cell number. I’ve called back a few times to these numbers, to discover that the person answers but knew nothing about the call or that their number had been used for a tele-scam. So, I hate to block numbers that were hijacked because of future business reasons.

Speaking of blocking numbers, I’ve had my latest cell phone for 26 months. So far, at last count, I’ve blocked 772 numbers, and I didn’t block every number. I bought a new landline phone for the house solely because it has the capability to block numbers. I’ve had it less than six months and currently have 189 numbers blocked. I just now got a tele-scam call as I write this.

Everyone that I contact about these scams says, “Register with the Do Not Call list.” I have, and I used to sit every evening and spend 20 minutes logging calls into the registry. After a year or so, I realized that it’s just a waste of time and does no good. I don’t even think it’s real, but a mechanism for people like me to feel like we’re doing something.

I’ve called then-Rep. Carney’s office almost quarterly to complain. I knew it would do no good, but I thought it’s the only avenue. There needs to be legislation to ban telemarketing altogether. Is there one person that likes to get any of these calls? Anyway, they acted and talked like they cared, and [I] believe they did to some small level: even Carney called me one time, and we discussed it. While I appreciated the call, I knew nothing would be done and here is why: I’m guessing that all the telecom companies make a tremendous amount of money selling phone lines to all these scammers.

They would have to be part of ending this madness, but they would lose money, so, therefore they won’t. Then, you have the telecom companies, as well the telemarketing (scammer) industries lobbying Congress to allow this to continue, and you know how that works.

Speaking of politicians and tele-scamming, you know where they stand when they initially passed this Do Not Call list, but they exempt themselves from [not] calling you. I wouldn’t object to a politician or aide calling if they actually called. Instead, they annoy you with these robo-calls. Do they not understand that citizenry does not like this? At least, I’ve never met anyone that does.

Robert Hice

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