Proceed With Caution: Spam Risk Telephone Calls

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Proceed With Caution: Spam Risk Telephone Calls

My mother Ruthie and I shared a huge problem: Unwanted and unwarranted spam telephone calls. For years, when the phone rang, she answered. However, one day, there was a call about increasing the insurance coverage on her car. She hung up when she realized the caller did not know the name of her auto insurance company. What’s funny is that she wasn’t exactly sure of their name either, but she was positive the caller’s guess was incorrect.

Another day, a caller said that her best friend’s granddaughter needed to be bailed out of jail. My smart mother Ruthie called her best friend who called her granddaughter who was sitting in her kitchen eating scrambled eggs and toast with her two children.  Often the callers are so creative, it can be very irritating and upsetting.

Ruthie and I worked together to put a system into place. For her cell phone, unless the person’s name was in her contact list and came up on the screen, she ignored it. On her house phone, she let the answering machine pick up, only responding to people she was sure she knew.

We often talked about the strange calls and messages. Now it’s happening to me. A day doesn’t go by without receiving calls labelled by my cellphone as “Spam Risk.” I basically ignore them. Today alone, Spam Risk calls came from Greer, Arizona; Lakewood, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; Grand Prairie, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Micanopy, Florida. Phone numbers appear for those who call repeatedly on different days. I figure if they really wanted me, they would leave a message, but they never do.

I admit it. Even after being so aware of spam calls, I fell for one. It’s easy to do. Supposedly Medicare Part B was calling; however, deep down I know government organizations do not call people. First there was a very chatty woman who then brought in a man, who asked a lot of specific health questions. Fortunately, I said no to all of them. They hung up. I learned an important lesson from what I’d already accomplished with Ruthie: Unless I have your name and number already listed in my phone, do not answer.

Ruthie and I called the National ‘Do Not Call Registry,’, 888-382-1222 directly from the phone numbers we wanted protected. It is managed and maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Unfortunately, calls kept coming.  If spammers identify themselves as conducting polls or surveys, benefitting charities, or political organizations, they do not come under the do not call guidelines.

I am sure you have already figured out the main message here. If you don’t know who is calling, do not bother answering. Ring, ring, ring.



  • Sheryl Kayne

    Sheryl Kayne is a writer, editor, educator, and motivational speaker. She is the author of travel guidebooks. Immersion Travel USA: The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living & Learning Excursions was awarded The Society of American Travel Writers Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Best Travel Guidebook 2009 and Volunteer Vacations Across America was named on Amazon’s list of best new travel books 2010. Kayne travels extensively and works and volunteers where she visits. She was the writer-in-residence at the Everglades National Park, Homestead, Fla. and a writing fellow at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, N.M. She has appeared on NPR, CNN, CBN, ABC Weekend Evening News, Lifetime Television Network, and MTV, among others. Visit Sheryl at:

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