Do Not Call. Ever. Again.

America can put a man on the moon.*

We can send a rocket the size of a Mini Cooper to a rock only a few inches larger, then send signals back to earth across 4.1 billion miles of space.

But we can’t stop Kevin the Power Washer from leaving dozens of messages, day after day, on my phone.

He’s not the only one.

A “police group” — definitely not affiliated with the Westport Police Department — calls often, pleading for money.

So does some guy in India, breathlessly informing me that my computer has a deadly virus and if I don’t act now I could loss all my data — and worse!!!!!!

I signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry when it was first introduced, in 2003. I might as well have signed up for the National Suckers Registry.

Today there are 230 million numbers on it. Yet the Federal Trade Commission gets 19,000 complaints from people who have been called.

That’s 19,000 complaints a day.

Calls come in on my landline. On my cellphone — a whole other level of illegality. If I got messages through the fillings in my teeth, they’d probably come that way too.

I do have an app (AT&T Mobile Security) that helpfully identifies incoming calls it suspects are from telemarketers. It would be nice if it stopped them all together, but hey, this is only 2019.

Several “06880” readers have asked for advice about this scourge. Unfortunately, that’s out of my lane.

I can alert you to upcoming 81-unit apartment complexes. I can provide a forum to discuss everything from beach bathrooms to medical marijuana dispensaries. But I can’t do jack about Kevin the Power Washer.

However, maybe you can.

Our “06880” online community contains some very smart folks. Collectively, our wisdom is broad and wide.

So here’s my request:

If you know how to stop the epidemic of telemarketers, click “Comments” below.

You’ll earn the eternal gratitude of all of us.

Except Kevin the Power Washer, that fraudulent police fundraiser, and some dude in India who says my computer will dkaidfu&dks@bkzk#%ksa …. aaaaaaargh!

———————————

*Okay, that was 50 years ago. But still…

76 responses to “Do Not Call. Ever. Again.

  1. The guy from India has me on speed dial.

    • All of the “Kevin the power washer” and friends also have my email … and I sense that every time I enter my email to “unsubscribe” Im actually subscribing to more spam !?

      • YES, you are. Spammers use all sorts of dirty tricks to make you think all sorts of likely things. NEVER “unsubscribe” to an unsolicited email. If you do, Security firm SOPHOS says,
        “1. You have confirmed to the sender that your email address is both valid and in active use.
        2. By responding to the email, you have positively confirmed that you have opened and read it and may be slightly interested in the subject matter, whether it’s getting money from a foreign prince, a penny stock tip or a diet supplement.
        And worst:
        5. The most scary of all: if you visit a website owned by a spammer you’re giving them a chance to install malware on your computer, even if you don’t click anything.

        Mark such messages as SPAM. This “teaches your email software about what you consider spam so that it can better detect and block nefarious messages in the future and adapt as the spammers change their tricks.”

  2. I wish I could help, but I am in prison because I ignored the numerous calls warning me there were countless warrants for my arrest and they finally found me! I promise to poll my fellow inmates- maybe they have some suggestions. (just kidding of course!)

  3. The only thing that has helped us on our landline is signing up for NoMoRobo. We still get the calls, but usually they ring once and disappear.

  4. I can also report very good results (on our landline) using nomorobo.

    on my cell, I use Should I Answer – basically a crowd-sourced call blocker. works pretty well

  5. Mary ruggiero

    Nomorobo.com is a little more complicated to sign up for, but is really worth it. Robot calls ring once, then are forwarded to a number you were given and which you put into your account with your phone carrier. Instructions are on the no morobowebsite. Unfortunately, political calls still come thru as do some spoofing calls. 😢

    • Jean Marie Wiesen

      It’s the spoofing calls that are problematic. There’s no way to block them, and that’s mostly what I get. The prison threats are right around the corner, so watch out.

  6. My cousin writes down the errant phone number and then blocks it from future in-coming calls. She says that has helped get rid of quite a few of them.

  7. A month ago I did what Mark Jacobs’ cousin did and – surprisingly – it worked. I have a California area code on my cell and I would get almost daily calls from the same area code. I finally blocked a few of them … and I haven’t gotten a call since.
    I suppose they’re just lying low so they can ambush me in the future.

  8. Richard Fogel

    pretty soon the guy from Russia will be calling

  9. Telemarketers are people to, talk to them, ask about their kids, ask what they look like, ask if they are single… get creepy real fast and they will hang up.

  10. My Google Pixel 3 phone can screen calls. When a call comes in, I can decline, screen, or answer. If I screen an audio message goes to the caller: “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you’re calling.” I can see if the person is someone I know or a scammer. The scammers or robo caller usually hangs up. I can then put a block on that number. The phone doesn’t even ring if they try calling from that number again. It’ll be perfect for the next election cycle. 🙂

    • The service you’re talking about is Google Voice. It’s available free to anyone who has a Gmail account, which is also free. Basically, you give out a NEW phone number assigned to you by Google and people call that. It can ring your home number, your mobile phone(s), handle voicemail AND do call screening. More information is available at: https://voice.google.com/about and a user generated tutorial can be watched at: https://youtu.be/_uIJnXbzqqM.

      • Mark this is embedded in the phone, which is on a Verizon number I’ve had since 1989 (early adopter!).

  11. If my Caller ID shows a number I don’t recognize, I pick up the phone and hang it up immediately. Sometimes I just let it ring. Then when the answering machine responds, they hang up. Except for Kevin — he always leaves a message.

    • Cathy Smith Barnett '66

      I do what Bobbie does, just pick up and hang up if I don’t know caller. However this is only a temporary solution as they DO call again😠

  12. Deborah Green

    Does anyone know what the plan, if any, there is to remove the boat that is stranded on Harbor Road as well as the one that broke its mooring and is tied up to Boccanfuso’s dock on Harbor Road? I believe they are owned by the same person.

  13. Martin Gitlin

    The spoofing is what gets me the most angry. Caller ID says the call is from Westport, Fairfield or Wilton so I answer it. As soon as I hear the recorded voice or the delay, I hang up. The worst is the call I get from a 212 area code on my cell phone where when I pick up a voice starts jabbering at me in a Chinese dialect…

    • If I do not recognize a number, no matter what, I let it go to voice mail. If it is a real person, they will leave a message. It’s a shame our phones have been bastardized to this extent.

    • They’ve also found a way to use our last name on the caller ID, Which of course I pick up yikes!

  14. Elisabeth Keane

    About the nuisance phone calls. The real police issue periodic alerts to the populace that the real police do not solicit donations for anything via phone and therefore incoming alleged “police” calls soliciting funds are not legitimate. Knowing this, in the past when such calls arrived I would listen to the opening pitch, “I am Sgt/Lt/Capt so-and-so from the police….” and then interrupt them saying, “No you are not. The real police in my town have informed me that real police do not solicit anything over the phone. Never call again.” Then I would hang up immediately. That alone reduced the number of such calls although a few strays remain.

    Do not engage any telemarketing calls in any way. Do not answer and hang up without speaking because it lets the caller know this is an active phone number and that means they might try again and likely will share the active phone line info on other lists. Do not engage in conversation with any of them.

    About all the other telemarketing calls. I never answer them. I never answer any call with a phone number I do not recognize, and that includes our own area code. That is what caller ID is for. If there is such a mystery number in caller ID, I allow it to go to voice mail. Mostly, there is silence and a click. If the call turns out to be legit, and if they don’t leave a message, it is their problem that you don’t know they called.

    And by the way, there is no law requiring anyone to answer their phone every time it rings.

  15. Frannie Southworth

    Thank you all for the helpful responses and Dan for asking for input. I am going to try Jack Whittle’s approach.
    “I can also report very good results (on our landline) using nomorobo.
    on my cell, I use Should I Answer – basically a crowd-sourced call blocker. works pretty well”
    The calls are so out of control and so disruptive and it’s rarely anyone I want to talk to especially on the house phone. Most people that know me call the cell. But they both constantly ring and especially during dinner hour! Lots of automated cell phone calls from Rachel from credit card services and the home from that same fake police union and also the fake veterans organization I looked up online and I get the IRS one that says I’ll be arrested if I don’t call back. That one could really upset very elderly person who doesn’t know about all of this. And that gets me really mad. For that alone, something really needs to be done to stop that one!!!
    I too signed up years ago for the do not call registry which was a total joke! I feel hopeful.
    Thanks again.
    Frannie

    • Bruce Schneider

      I was expecting the IRS and Social Security ones to go down with the government shutdown. Thought the lead spammer may figure people would be even more sceptical. Got a live call from “Social Security” the other day. They hung up when I thanked them for their dedication for working without pay during the shutdown.

  16. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    Deborah Green,
    I believe to help remove the boats at Saugatuck Shores
    all is needed is MONEY.
    Would anyone like to start a GO-Fund-Me account to help the owner.
    A little trivia…I found out the lager sale boat hull is made of concrete
    This is the most realistic answer I can give you Deborah
    Best,
    Jerry

  17. Stephanie Bass

    …screaming obscenities doesn’t work but makes me feel slightly better…also, some go-fund-me stuff is crap

  18. Jacquie littlejohn

    Occasionally I get calls from my own telephone number identified as me!

  19. If you’d like to give the callers a taste of their own medicine, look at https://jollyrogertelephone.com/. Basically, you send the call to a “bot” that keeps the telemarketers on the line for a long time with nonsensical chatter that wastes their time. If you’re a telemarketer, spending time on the phone with someone who isn’t going to buy anything is painful, as well as costly (no sale). Listen to some of the sample calls they offer on their Web site. I promise it will put a smile on your face. You might even want to sign up for the service. I have no financial interest in Jolly Roger Telephone.

  20. These calls caused us to never answer our home phone And now we have had the main phone removed.

    My cell is 203 984…… and now I do not answer any 203-984-2169

    They are hijacking working phone numbers to use for these calls. How do I know this? People have called me saying you just called me. I will call some numbers back and someone answers and I will tell them all I did was hit my missed call with their number.

    I do not believe for one moment that we can’t fix this. It’s more than annoying, it’s maddening.

    Mary Palmieri Gai Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Cell 203-984-2169 MaryGai@bhhsne.com

    “Exceeding your highest expectations”

    >

  21. Linda D Parker

    Right on , Dan Woog !

  22. Robert Mitchell

    For landline robo-calls, NoMoRoBo works like a charm. For live solicitors, an old-fashioned answering machine lets me screen unfamiliar numbers
    . Very few bother to leave a message.

  23. As an aside, I listed something for sale on CraigsList.com. Within 30 mins I got SIX ‘buyers’ wanting to verify *me* for the sale, and asked that I respond to a link in my text from ‘Google Voice’ for verification of ME.

    IT IS A PHISHING SCAM to give them the rights to use YOUR number for a telemarketer call. Fortunately I clicked nothing and told them all to go away. (I did sell my object two days later via a real text, but beware.)

    All of the above calls I get. I am a (photography) business with new potential clients ALL over the USA, so I answer most of them. Sigh.

    It’s the cost of doing business. I will look into the two spam deferrents mentioned.

  24. Here’s a new one….my robocalls are in Chinese, I can’t even figure out what they are scamming me for..LOL. I’d suggest you read the latest news from Consumer Reports (Nov. 2018) They say relief is on the way… https://www.consumerreports.org/robocalls/spoofed-robocalls-relief-is-on-the-way/

    • its the Russians trying to get us angry and focused on foolish things while they steal our country

      • Sharon Paulsen

        Hahaha.

        I can remember a time when I would have laughed out loud at an idea like that …

        but nowadays? Who da frick knows! 😉

  25. Luisa Francoeur

    nomorobo is only for VOIP, not traditional landlines, otherwise I would be using it. I have an announcement on my landline answering machine asking callers to hang up if they are calling to ask for money but, if not, to leave a message. Mostly I get hang-ups (the telltale “click”) but there are some eternally hopeful operations which leave a message about their “services”.

  26. Here’s what I do for my cell phone, and it works like a charm:

    I always turn on the “do not disturb” feature (that crescent moon thing), and I have it set so that only calls on my contact list can get through; otherwise my phone never rings if the call is from outside my contacts (it goes to voice mail). The drawback is I don’t get buzzed when I get text messages (even from my contacts), but frankly I’d rather grab/use my phone on my terms (when I feel like it) rather than have my phone tell me to grab it every few minutes. And if I’m expecting a contractor or other service provider to call me, I’ll briefly turn off the “do not disturb” feature. I love it — I get ZERO telemarketing calls. But if you like being alerted when you get a text message from anyone, or you like news alerts, etc., this will NOT work for you. You need to pick your poison.

  27. Somewhat ironic especially after ready Mark Mathias’ comment above. One of the biggest offenders of spam calls is from Google itself. Since I don’t answer the home phone from callers that I don’t recognize, I get daily robo voice messages from Google wanting me to verify my address of my home business. The caller ID is rarely the same from call to call. Perhaps I can use Google voice on Google itself.

  28. My phone rings a lot but I never pick up unless I recognize the number. Alas, most of my calls seem to be junk. My father, who lived to 96, used to relish telemarketer calls because they gave him the opportunity to swear at strangers. I don’t think he even realized that most of them were robots.

  29. Is there anything that lawmakers in Hartford can do about this problem?

  30. Jeff Manchester

    I reached out to our Senator a few years back and received the following “helpful” information:

    Dear Mr. Manchester,

    Thank you for your message regarding unwanted telemarketing calls. I appreciate hearing from you.

    I too am frustrated that illegal calls continue to plague Connecticut residents, and I am committed to finding solutions that will help address this problem in our state and throughout the country.

    It is illegal for any entity to contact individuals on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) National Do Not Call Registry if the entity does not have a prior business relationship with the individual. An exception to this rule exists for entities calling individuals who have requested information about the business. In this circumstance, the business may contact the individual for up to 31 days following the inquiry, unless the individual requests not to be called. Charitable organizations, political calls, and research and surveys are also exempt from the Do Not Call list.

    Unfortunately, some entities continue to try to scam individuals and use robocalls without regard for the law. While the FTC has stopped billions of unwanted calls, technological advances have led to an influx of robocalls that pose a new challenge to law enforcement. Robocallers now use autodialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute, and many different offenders use the same recorded messages. Robocallers often place calls through technology that hides their location and can also fake the Caller ID information you see on your phone. The FTC continues to combat unwanted telemarketing calls. To learn what you can do when you get an illegal call, please visit: http://www.ftc.gov/robocalls.

    I am proud to be a cosponsor of S. 3026, the ROBOCOP Act, which would require wireless and wireline phone companies to provide free robocall blocking tools to their customers. This legislation was introduced on June 6, 2016 and was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. Additionally, I introduced S. 2235, the HANGUP Act with Senator Markey and many of my senate colleagues in November, 2015. This legislation would protect anyone with government backed debt – veterans, farmers, or student loan borrowers – from unwanted calls and texts from debt collectors. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I will continue to work to find new ways to deter unwanted telemarketing calls.

    Thank you again for your message. Please feel free to reach out to me with any other questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Richard Blumenthal
    United States Senate

    • Truth be told; since most of these RoboCall operations are based overseas in Asia, and Eastern Europe (out of our jurisdiction), there is virtually nothing that Congress or the FCC can do to stem the rising tide of these unwanted and often criminal calls.

  31. Arline Gertzoff

    The bladder mesh implant call is better than Kevin the power washer.The potential scam function and then blocking has cut my scam calls more than 50 percent. Blow a whistle in their ear also helps.

  32. Thanks for the tip. I just googled nomorobo and the service is available FREE for most cable-company provided telephone service, including Optimum and Frontier (there’s a list right up front). Go to http://nomorobo.com/signup. Just did it. You have to move back and forth between your phone/cable account and the nomorobo screens to complete. You’ll get a confirmation call from nomorobo to confirm successful completion.

  33. Arthur C Schoeller

    While the Consumer Reports article above states there is hope as the carriers deploy additional technology, we as consumers need to continue to pound on our FEDERAL government legislators to address this growing issue. (estimates are that ONE THIRD of calls today are robocalls). The key is that the scammers make enough money to continue to leverage cheaper and cheaper technology plus flaunt the laws. They only need a small percentage of calls where they actually get through and extract funds or personal information. Operating typically outside of the country, and rapidly closing up shop when located and then opening under another name and location. For YEARS the telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have denied that they own the problem.. “We just carry the calls…..”. Over the last 40 years (yeah I have been in this industry that long) the regulations and legislation has always been years behind. Plus in a perverse manner the additional minutes added to their revenue.It is only in the last three years they have begun to hear the feedback from the FTC and federal legislators. Credit to Consumers Union hammering away and helping lobby for the Robocop Act to keep the pressure on. As Mark Mathias and others have stated jollyroger, nomorobo, and google voice are all solutions, but they truly don’t get to the root of the matter. In fact if you want to chuckle I encourage you to go to the jollyroger web site and hear the calls where they tie up the telemarketers spoofing THEM with a bot!

    Please support Consumers Union and individually hammer on your FEDERAL legislators so they can keep the pressure on the telecommunications carriers to OWN the problem. Progress is being made, but this is not the time to let up. The scammers are fast, and they MAKE MONEY. So the pressure is needed to keep the carriers moving just as fast to block them.

  34. George Bullwinkel

    Many excellent suggestions, some of which I will try. I have started asking live callers “Does your mother know you have embarked on a life of crime”? It doesn’t change anything, but it can be good for a laugh on both ends of the line.

  35. Richard Fogel

    The calls are like traffic on a road. Uncontrollable

  36. I’ve created a workaround that helps me. If anyone calls my phone and the phone shows me they are not one of my contacts… I don’t answer, and wait to see if they leave a voicemail. If they don’t, I can make sure they never bother me again. Here’s how:

    1. I open the Phone app
    2. I click on RECENTS
    3. Any RECENTS that are a phone number only (not one of my contacts), I click on the “i” icon at right, for “information”
    4. I click on Create New Contact
    5. I make sure First Name and Last Name are blank
    6. I type in the Company Name “Junk”
    6. I click DONE
    7. I scroll down and click Block this Caller
    8. Once this “Junk” contact is set, I change the RingTone to None and the TextTone to None.
    9. If they call again, they are either blocked or the phone shows the offender ringing in but no sound, no vibration, no nothing. I can wait for the call to time out or I can press the power button once, dismiss it.
    10. Any new junk calls come in, I do the above but instead of Create New Contact, I click Add to Existing Contact, and save.

    Try it!
    J

  37. Sometimes, if We see a phone number “off our radar,” we will answer the phone “Allie’s Alligator rescue…are you calling to surrender an alligator or adopt one.” Generally, it’s a showstopper especially for the foreign call center operators!

  38. Thank you all! I’m gonna up my game. Now I just don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know – they can leave a message but never do but they keep calling – from Iowa, Minnesota, California – everywhere. Now I can use your tips. Will see what works.

  39. Peter Gambaccini

    Some of these unwanted calls are exasperating but others are far worse. The people calling from Asia claiming, with a genial and almost saintly vocal tone, to want to fix your computer actually want to take it over and disable it and hold it for ransom. This would, among other things, make it difficult or impossible for senior citizens to exchange crucial messages with their physicians and pharmacists. One day, I decided to go beyond indifference or mild annoyance and started telling the caller what he actually was – a murderer. He didn’t much like being reminded that he was literally killing people (which, be fair, he was) and threatened not only to disable my computer but to make it impossible for me to ever have one again. Of course, he didn’t manage that, and I didn’t back down from condemning him. What a lovely exchange it was. I hope I ruined his day. Or his life.

    • Dan, This posting has to set the record for the most responses!! Every time I look at my mail there are 9 comments!

  40. Bart Shuldman

    Look at an app called Nomorobo.

  41. Sharon Paulsen

    Well, what I did was kill the landline. Years ago. Huge help for sanity on the home front!

    And, as for the iPhone, well, I set up just about every privacy and non-tracking setting that was available (without use of any additional apps), and all is well for me.

    No spam calls, robo calls, except maybe once in a very rare moon.

    Google is not your friend, folks, so be wary if you’re entrenched in that G-world. Nothing is private within those ranks, including any Google product/app that is marketed to help with your “privacy”.

  42. Dan, you probably know this… but here it is anyway… Anyone calling you regularly from the same phone number on your iPhone can be easily be blocked by simply going to Recents on your phone app. Locating the pest’s phone in the listing of recent calls. Clicking on the letter “i” in the circle on the right. On the next screen of information scroll to the bottom and click on the “Block this Caller.” The pest can never call you again from their phone to your iPhone. This is a simple Apple trick… It is no help for you land line…only your iPhone.

    • I’ve got dozens of #’s blocked from the SAME robocall that comes in from a different Ph# number each time. I’ve even tried calling the numbers back only to discover it’s not a real ph#.

  43. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Robocalls, hacking into everything and social media are just another battlefield on the global, pervasive and asymmetrical war we find ourselves in. Am I or am I not being paranoid?

  44. Dan I live in Westport but my firm is in Wilton . We are one of the few firms in the country specializing in suing banks, telemarketers, and debt collectors over illegal robocalls. The issue of course is that the problems you described are largely generated by criminal entities that are outside of the United States and therefore outside the reach of civil and criminal prosecution.

  45. Elisabeth Keane

    Everyone’s observations and suggestions are encouraging and helpful. We’re all in this together. Here’s a tidbit about someone who employed his unique approach to telemarketers:

  46. Drives me crazy…and some can startle you with threats to your computer—or possible Social Security issues…not nice!! I will have to try some of these!

  47. Let’s charge a small tax to the caller. I can spend the few dollars a month this would cost, but someone sending out hundreds of spams might think twice.
    The revenue from the tax would be spent on cybersecurity.

    Ray Rauth
    rayrauth@optonline.net

  48. Margaret Freeman

    Get the app robokiller…$30/year and worth every penny!! It works.