When an old friend calls

Boy, there is nothing like sitting in the old lounger on a Saturday night watching a baseball game, golf tournament or tennis match and having the phone ring.

Now, who would be calling on a Saturday night at 8:45? It must be important – better rush on over and get that phone 20 feet away from said recliner. Who is it?

Why, it’s our old pal Robo-Caller. You know him – he’s that automated voice telling you that your credit card debt is over X number of dollars and your interest rate is over X percent and he is here to help you. Except our credit card debt is not over X dollars and the lone credit card we have is at probably the lowest interest rate available.

In other words, our buddy Robo-Caller doesn’t really know a darn thing about us and, if he were running this scam on the Internet, it would be called phishing and be against the law. Because, no question about it, these calls are designed to get you to reveal personal information that the owner of Robo-Caller has no business knowing.

Of course, Robo doesn’t just represent credit card companies. All sorts of businesses employ him.

The only thing consistent about Robo is that he will always call you when it is most inconvenient for you – when you are at home having dinner or simply relaxing. The people who program these stupid calls know when most of us are going to be home.

The fact that it is an automated voice makes it doubly troubling – there is not even a human to tell not to call your house again.

To top things off, now we are starting to get these calls on our cellphone. We know there is a national do-not-call list, and we were given a number to make sure these calls stopped on our cellphone. Except we registered our cell using that do-not-call list number, and the pest calls continue unabated.

And the thing about old Robo is his number is usually blocked. So you don’t even have a number to report to the national Do Not Call Registry or even the local phone company. In an interesting twist, we have recently had some missed calls where the number is 808-000-0000. Try returning that call. You’ll get a recording that says there is no such number.

Isn’t that fraud?

The only defense we have found is a personal one. When old Robo does get around to mentioning on whose behalf he is calling, we make a mental note to never spend another penny with that company.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.