When I turned 60 I stopped answering the phone.
There’s something about turning 60 that sends a message to every grifter, malcontent, con artist, call center employee and hacker that tells them I am in prime scamming position. It must be like that big board in the John Wick movies, with the countdown clock to when Wick is up for grabs.
Failed Phone Follies…
So, after one call too many telling me my auto warranty is expiring (don’t have a car), or warning me the IRS is waiting downstairs in a tank to arrest me (um, no), or that my grandson is in jail in Tijuana (no kids) I stopped answering the phone unless I knew the number.
At that point, I picture the big board message saying “She’s on to us” and con artists switching to spoofing numbers for banks, brokerage firms, insurers, Medicare, and utilities. There was even one exciting spoofed call that looked like it came from….me. A breakthrough in quantum physics! I regret not picking up the phone to see how I was doing.
…And a close shave
Every so often a message slips past the goalie and I pick up. One seemed legit from my bank and I almost got scammed. (That guy was good, but I remembered all that advice from AARP and called the bank directly.) And I once listened to a voice mail from the “IRS” that was so scary and convincing that I had to go for a walk to calm down.
Beware the New Phone Folly
It seems that just when I think I’ve got it sorted, they come up with a new wrinkle. This one is the Mystery Call.
I’ve been getting calls that don’t register on Caller ID at all. It just rings and rings and goes silent. That’s some kind of psychological mischief, because I look at the phone and wonder if it’s Meals On Wheels using a phone with a call blocking feature, or someone calling me back and deciding last minute “The hell with her!” and hanging up or… what?
I really hope it doesn’t catch on, because with no number and no message, it’s guaranteed to drive me crazy.
But how about you? What is the latest Phone Folly that’s been driving you crazy? Let us know in the comments!
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send Open Thread suggestions to email@example.com.