If you’re like us you have a boiling point. That emotional range where you finally tire of being fenced with, sold something you don’t want or need and never asked for, and where you want nothing more than to tell off the time-waster on the other end of the line or keyboard but good.
We get it. But be careful. Often, these low-browed, knuckle-dragging heathens are keenly aware of your anger towards them, and they have come up with means of using your ire and turning it to their advantage.
That is, after all, what these nerks specialize in.
Case in point – us. We were looking for a new health insurance carrier recently and made the huuuugggge mistake of typing some basic contact info into an online form for a health care provider we shall not name but whose title sounds a lot like Blue Cross of California. Within seconds – and we cannot stress this enough – we were inundated with calls from one of an endless army of Sales Dudes all trying to sell us umbrella insurance coverage. It quickly became apparent that the folks we were trying to contact initially were selling our contact information to spammers/scammers as we began to rack up more calls than a teenage girl announcing a “everyone welcome” beer bust at her parent’s house.
A dozen. Two dozen. Three. Thirty three calls in one day. They came in droves, all from derivations of a phone number in Pittsburg and all with the same pitch: “We see you’re looking for health insurance… you look like a smart guy… have you considered getting insurance through an alternative carrier… and on, and on, and on.
The calls kept coming faster than we could block them, a virtual tsunami of telemarketing spin. Before we tired of the game and pretty much blocked everyone but family trying to reach us (how many news tips did we lose because of that? We don’t know, but it kept us up last night thinking about it) we talked with one of the Sales Guys – a fast talking chap named “Rob” who liked to use our first name a lot and who was ready to take our money over the phone – right then and there. We didn’t go for that, of course, and told him his pitch sounded like the one Leonardo DiCaprio’s character used to grease the suckers in “Wolf of Wall Street.”
He didn’t seem to like that very much, and called us “a smart guy” again… only dragging it out like he was thinking of using another word for us entirely.
Eventually, we found the right people and secured our health care coverage through an established provider, but of course the calls from Rob and the ant-like colony of telemarketers we envisioned twirling their pencils while jabbering well-rehearsed scripts into their headsets continued – almost as fast as we could block them.
The calls originated from an impressive phone tree listed on several online lists of known spammers. That they started in seconds after our contact with a supposedly legitimate company only added insult to the injury and we are committed to taking corrective and – hopefully – punitive action.
They’re still coming, though in a trickle instead of the initial avalanche, so it is apparent these people are constantly adding new numbers and extensions in an effort to outfox those of us who don’t care to hear from them.
As if the assault on our phone wasn’t enough, spammers also began to tap on our computer screens last December, pitching us for a variety of products, offers, and “opportunities” we had absolutely no interest in and almost begging us to “unsubscribe” from their email list.
We have a “Delete” key we’re not afraid to use – and we do – but we noted the relatively high profile the spammers were giving their “Unsubscribe” option and we learned it was for a reason – they want us to use it.
In an insidious twist to this ongoing game of cat and mouse with scammers/spammers it appears they are keenly aware of our wish to make them go away and have turned those methods to their advantage.
So, if you don’t do what you should do with unwanted spam messaging (flag it as such and delete it) and if you should hit that temporarily satisfying “Unsubscribe” button, you’re sending a confirmation of your existence, some meta data relative to your location, preferred browser, etc. to someone waiting to get that information and use it to send you more spam!
Confirming your Unsubscribe option has also been known to afford the opportunity to upload malware to your computer. Aren’t these guys fun?
Also, we’ve learned that some spammers/scammers – aware that they are angering us – are offering up telephonic cues giving us a chance to make them go away but which, in actuality, are utilized to confirm that we are living, breathing targets. Pressing certain numbers, when asked, or responding verbally to prompts – while seemingly innocent – provide valuable info to the person besieging your castle.
Those “Can You Hear Me Now?” calls, recorded messages from computers pushing you to say “yes” to a verbal prompt will verify that your phone number is active and connects to a live person – trying to sell you something.
What do we do? Unfortunately, the landscape is now so toxic and the scammers so established that the only defense against them is one that may also cut us off from incoming, bona fide calls entirely – Scorched Earth. Don’t answer any calls from numbers you don’t recognize. Simple as that. Unfortunately, the scammers seem to have won – for now.