Personal Finance

Action Line: Try some simple tactics when the call is unwanted

A reader: I just got another one of those unwanted phone calls. They called while I was visiting with my grandson. I am so annoyed by these calls I decided to write to you about this one. The caller was rude, demanding personal information. He even went so far as to threaten me with arrest if I did not give him my credit card info. I don’t know who he was but he said I owed him. I finally just hung up on him. How do you get rid of these?

Action Line: More and more reports are coming to us of these types of calls. Scammers are becoming more aggressive. Unfortunately, anyone can become a victim of annoying and harassing phone calls. These types of calls may include random calls by pranksters, calls that come through late at night, threatening calls and even obscene phone calls. Most calls can be prevented or avoided by using some simple techniques.

• Your telephone is for your use; always use it on your terms. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the caller, hang up. You are not obligated to speak to anyone.

• Ask for the caller’s identity or affiliation. If the caller makes an improper response or does not respond immediately, hang up.

• If the caller asks, “Who is this?” or “What number have I reached?” don't give an answer. Instead ask, “To whom do you wish to speak?” or “What number did you dial?” That will probably end it.

• Don’t give out any information to anyone you don’t know. If the caller has a legitimate reason to be contacting you, they will be forthright with the information. And don’t trust what they tell you until you are able to verify.

• If you have children, instruct them not to talk to strangers on the telephone.

• If a caller persists after you’ve made it clear you do not wish to talk, the simplest response is to hang up. Other techniques that may be useful in some circumstances include blowing a police whistle into the phone or tapping the disconnect button and stating “Operator, this is the call I wanted traced.”

• Remember, don’t speak unless you want to, don’t give out any information, and don’t respond to questions.

• They cannot arrest you. HANG UP.

If a caller threatens you, keep a log of all of the incidents. Contact your local police department. If you are receiving calls from a specific number, you can always contact your phone provider and have that one number blocked. Our experience is that these callers use throw away cell phones. They also use phone equipment to fake the caller ID. So the numbers they call from are forever changing. That is why it is difficult and sometimes nearly impossible to track them down. Your best defense is to HANG UP.