Robocalls and phone scams don’t seem to slow down in 2019

You’re in the shower. The phone rings. Your husband is out of town and you’ve been waiting for his call. You push through the curtain, your hair full of shampoo, you grab the phone and blurt out, “Hello?”

“Hello,” a voice answers, “this is Cindy with card services …”

You’re in the car. You’re on the way to the hospital. Your phone rings. You think it might be the doctor. You feel around, find the phone, hold it to your ear while keeping your eyes on the road. “Hello?” you say anxiously.

“Hi, this is Philip with an important message about your credit …”

You’re in a meeting. You’re about to say something important. Your phone rings. The number is similar to yours, and you figure it’s someone from your neighborhood. You excuse yourself. “Hello?” you say.

“A judgment has been ruled against you,” a voice bleats, “you have three days in which to reply or face penalties, possibly imprisonment …”

Welcome to 2019, where the phone is a weapon of deception. A new study by the FCC projects that nearly half of all cell calls received this year will be spam. Junk. Uninvited voices designed to lure money or information.

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Half of our calls? Half?

You’re on a ski slope. You lose sight of your partner. You wonder if she’s OK. Your phone rings. Maybe it’s her. Maybe she’s down. You yank off you gloves, toss aside your hand warmers, dig into your pocket and rush before it stops ringing. “Hello?” you say. “Are you OK?”

“This is Miriam with the Association of Retired Servicemen …”

Arrrgh.

The thingthat calls you

How did we get to this point? Once, a ringing phone was a sign that someone you knew wanted to talk to you, someone you’d be happy to hear from. How else would they have your number?

That was a long time ago, when phones plugged into walls and operators connected calls. Today, nearly half the time, it’s not even someone calling you. It’s some thing. A high-powered computer that can spit out thousands of calls in a flash, spraying robovoices across the landscape like a national rainstorm.

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