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the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


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I hit that scammer with the voice of madness.

Note: this post title is inspired by

I should have realized our Do Not Call registration expired.

as I wrote about something similar in a post titled “I hit that telemarketer with the voice of madness” on The Icarus Project forums.

Now, most of the time, I try to be polite to people on the phone.  Even telemarketers.  I really do.  If I think someone is trying to earn a reasonably honest living (although I’ve said telemarketing work is only a few notches above prostitution), I will be kind and polite to them.

But I toss a lot of civility out the window for telephone scammers.

Sometimes I wonder why we get them in the first place.  Some are automated calls with recordings offering to consolidate our credit, which I know we don’t need.  A very few are offers of so-called business opportunities, which I’d prefer to call “get rich quick schemes” much of the time.  Then there are the calls from those faking to be from Microsoft, worrying about my “Windows computer”– and I just laugh at them.  I tell them they are amateurs, because I use Linux.

But this particular phone scam was one I consider particularly low-down and slimy, and one I’d run into before:  the scammer claims that the IRS has issued an arrest warrant for me.  Yeah, right.  I don’t pay income tax, and I’ve claimed a hardship exemption on property tax.

Now, telemarketers and scammers used to call direct.  Some years back, people devised ways to respond to that, and one of my favorites was the Telecrapper 2000:

But they’ve gotten wise to this.  These folks have started making recordings and asking people to call back.  Maybe this makes them easier to ignore- but I was itching for some payback of sorts.  This particular automated call was a synthesized voice, and just smelled of fake, fake, fake.  So I figured I’d call back and really have some fun.

What I didn’t expect, but was pleasantly surprised by, was that MinuteMatt (MM) and Cimmy decided to join in on the fun.  I said whatever came to mind: including asking “so what are you wearing?” as if it was a phone sex line, making fake vomiting noises, and saying the most random things as if I had totally lost my mind.  Cimmy decided to call me “Harvey” and to insist I’d hurt myself enough and needed to go back to my padded room.  MM said a few random things as well, either to sound as crazy as I was, or to fake support for Cimmy’s help.  But what really just got me grinning like a loon later was what MM heard the guy saying:

“I’ve never encountered this before.  What am I supposed to do?”

I guess I have to give the man some credit.  He really tried to hang in there, although he didn’t say a whole lot to me besides claiming he was with the IRS.  He just let me yammer and chatter on and on.  I wish I had kept track of how long it took, because it seemed like somewhere between 5-10 minutes; way longer than most scammers hang on.  I was determined to babble on and on until he hung up, and mercifully, he did– I heard the familiar alarm that comes when a landline phone has been disconnected too long.


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I should have realized our Do Not Call registration expired.

We registered before legislation was passed in 2007 that extended registrations indefinitely, and I never really quite realized our registration had expired.  Today, I got a very stark reminder…

I got a call this afternoon, and the Caller ID said "Unavailable".  It's only been a few years since we could afford to have Caller ID.  For some reason I thought it might be Google again– my Gmail account was hacked and I opted to have a verification code sent to my landline phone, since I do not use a cell/mobile enough to justify tying my account to my cell phone number on my refurbished Motorola I got through TracFone.

I got an automated come-on message about some sort of savings on credit card debt.  Heh.  Neither Cimmy or I have even touched a credit card since we declared bankruptcy a little over five years ago or so.  I wanted to be sure they wouldn't call me again, so I took the option to press the 9 key to be connected to a live agent.

I told the man that answered right away to put us on the Do Not Call list.  He wasn't having it, and continued on with his sales pitch.  I repeated my request, and he tried to censure me as you would a child that is interrupting an adult.  I repeated it again, but he wouldn't have it.  So Cimmy called out to remind me that Washington state has "no second effort" rules, but he went on some schpiel about how they had every legal right to be calling us.  By this time I was repeating my request in increasingly loud tones, and getting more aggressively demanding by the minute.  He just wouldn't stop.

So at this point, the "OH SHIT, GO APESHIT!!" button was pressed.  I just snapped.  I really did.

So I let him have it with both barrels… err, lungs.  I screamed my bloody fool head off.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!   AHHHHHH, AHHHH, AHHHH!" I screamed.

"Give me the phone," Cimmy yelled, while I was still screaming.  "Give me the phone!"

I gave her the phone.

"He hung up," she declared, after putting the earpiece to her ear.

"Good," I replied.  I said I hoped that he decided that I was so crazy insane that they should NEVER contact us again.  I assured her that I was okay, although she admitted she was worried I'd lost it.  I said something to the effect that the Voice of Madness was fully my intent.

Needless to say, I made sure all three of our existing telephone numbers (as Cimmy has a cell phone as well) were registered with the Do Not Call website a few hours ago. 

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QotD: Thanks But No Thanks

How do you handle phone calls from telemarketers?

Ahhh…

I've heard some crazy answers (not just here), but the problem with the DNC is 'charities' are exempt.

I say 'this is a really bad time' and 'bye bye' in the same breath if I can, and then hang up.

I have done telemarketing before– it is employment from hell– but employees at any call centers are human beings, too, and do not deserve outright abuse.  Now, I knew it was time to quit when I felt I should put the keyboard through the CRT terminal, rip that out of the wall and do a Mexican hat dance on it, but some of the profanity and scam accusations were pretty mean.

I don't have a problem with a humorous attitude in answering such calls– hopefully employees have wit quick enough to relax and have a laugh to get them through until they can leave such a crap job.

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