Build good habits to avoid being spoofed

Although both Google and my mobile phone service provider try to identify unwanted incoming calls, the number of such calls has increased exponentially.

Unwanted emails are called “spam emails” and these unwanted calls, including computer-dialed “robocalls” that deliver pre-recorded messages, are also known as “spam calls.”

At least with spam email, your email provider and/or yourself (the latter through creating what are known as rules to categorize email as spam depending on criteria such as message subject) can redirect suspected spam email from ever coming into your inbox.

With unwanted calls, though, you still have to be notified of the call coming in. The ultimate decision to ignore that call or answer it is left to you. Unlike the aforementioned automated spam email identification process, spam calls can still interrupt you even if for a split-second as you see the caller ID.

It doesn’t surprise me when people ask what they can do to reduce spam calls. I wish I had a silver bullet of sorts that totally eradicates these nuisance calls. I, too, look for quick fixes so I can spend my time on meaningful endeavors and better things in life. Who wouldn’t, right? Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets when it comes to spam calls.

Instead, when I’m asked that question of how to curtail spam calls, I draw a parallel to the main tenet behind my “internet street smarts” and its various tactical elements that comprise the practice: build good habits. In this case building good habits is akin to training yourself from having to pick up each and every call – even those incoming calls not identified as spam callers.

But why, you ask, if they are supposedly not even from spam callers?

The spam identification system utilized by entities such as Google or my mobile phone service provider may not be perfect; it is a cat-and-mouse game for the spammers to increase the chance for you to answer and open your wallet.

I admit, even I have answered calls I shouldn’t have because the number that popped up was a local number that looked eerily familiar yet it was really a toll-free number in disguise. It’s called “Caller ID Spoofing” and unfortunately it is very easy to do. Although Caller ID Spoofing comes with enforcement by the FCC, with my untrained legal understanding it seems up to interpretation of what constitutes “intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value” since entities may not be trying to defraud but legitimately sell something.

Just like internet street smarts, building good habits which in this case is to not pick up every call unless you, and not any other system, can identify the caller seems to be a good habit to cultivate. If it is an important call, they should leave a message, call back or utilize other means to speak to you!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 10, Issue 21, Posted 9:53 AM, 11.06.2018