2019-01-09 / Editorial


Martha Chalker

Heading into work Monday morning, my husband and I were discussing how much we enjoyed the holidays and the opportunity we had for precious time spent with both our families. But, we were also sincerely happy about returning to a regular schedule and a routine. His cell phone rang, a usual occurrence, and someone on the other end asked to speak to ME? He informed them “she’s not available, can I help you with something?” I was driving and follow the GA law! The unknown party then proceeds to alert him that Ms. Chalker has the option to learn more about access to a Federal Burial Benefit. Of course, he hangs up. Unfortunately these calls have become an unpleasant and irritating part of our lives, at least for most of us. And just as unfortunate is many of these unwanted calls are not just telemarketers but include illegal and scam robocalls.

We’ve all had the occasional call about your “free vacation” or news about your credit card “with which there is no problem” or even the resort from which you’ve “recently requested information.” Often these calls began with “Hi is this Tom or Sally or whoever?” Never answer this inquiry with a yes. It may be a trick to have you recorded saying yes to a variety of questions to possibly use against you later. Yes, these calls are likely scams and many people have been harmed by them.

To help protect yourself and your family, try setting boundaries around your own phone habits and commit to practicing them daily. Never answer the phone if you do not recognize the number. A legitimate caller will leave a message or call back. While traveling, put your phone in the console or the glove box so you’re not distracted or tempted to reach for it while driving. You can always check messages when you get to where you’re going and you’ll have likely avoided any and all spam, robo and telemarketing calls during that time.

Illegal and scam robocalls are likely to continue to increase in 2019. The Federal Communications Commission (FFC) says it is committed to doing what they can to protect us from these unwelcome situations and are cracking down on illegal calls in a variety of ways. They have also listed a number of suggestions we can follow to protect ourselves from some of these calls. I am including a few below:

1. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such calls hang up immediately.

2. If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.

3. Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “yes.”

4. To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless numbers on the list.

5. Never give out personal information including social security numbers, mother’s maiden name, passwords or any other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.

I once answered my land line years ago and was approached by “a benevolent group for the sheriff’s association” asking for a donation to help these public servants. When I responded with “Sheriffs do not ask for money over the phone” and “I believe this is illegal” these scammers could not hang up fast enough. This memory still makes me smile today.

This problem is real and there are ways to protect yourself and your family. Go to the Federal Communications Commission website to become knowledgeable about the risks and the measures everyone should take.

Martha Chalker is a life and business coach with more than twenty years experience. She can be reached at 706-564- 4458.

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