Do you remember the weight of the mallet in your hand as you stood, steady and prepared, before a mechanical game board with between five and seven holes, ready to taunt you? You placed 2-3 quarters into the slot and the game begun. Plastic moles pop out of random holes at ever increasing speeds which you then proceed to pound mercilessly before they can retreat back into their hole. You score points for every timely direct hit and can only really achieve a perfect score if you have the “help of others” (i.e. cheat).
No matter how many you hit, more will always come. It’s just a matter of from where and when.
This game seems to have become the ideal resume builder for the average mobile phone consumer today.
Like 96% of Americans, you probably rely on your mobile phone daily to communicate with friends and relatives, as well as business associates, prospects and customers. An unfortunate fact of daily life is the constant interruption of spam and robocalls that disrupt daily work and clog already bloated voicemail boxes. We report monthly volumes that news, magazine and government agencies depend upon for the most current data and in January 2020 alone we saw 4.7 billion calls placed which was an average of 153 million per day, 6.4 million per hour, 1,800 per second or 14.4 per person.
The Good News
At last, the US government is getting involved with the passing of the TRACED Act. According to a CNET article titled “Trump signs Traced Act into law in bid to help put an end to robocalls”:
“As part of a Federal Communications Commission push, major wireless carriers and home phone providers have been implementing a verification process known as STIR/SHAKEN throughout 2019 to authenticate calls and fight spammers.
In addition to raising penalties and pushing for authentication, the bill also gives regulators like the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission four years to go after scammers, as opposed to the one-year statute of limitations that was previously in place.”
The Bad News
Unfortunately, most agree this will not have a significant impact on solving the actual problem. According to a Consumer Reports article titled “How the New Robocall Law Would Protect Consumers”:
“With all the important new protections this bill gives consumers from unwanted and abusive robocalling, the final bill is also a missed opportunity to give them other needed protections,” says [Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst with Consumer Reports]. The bill omits some protections that had been included in the previous House version of the bill, such as a mandate to clarify the consumer consent requirement. Without that clarification of how a consumer is supposed to give or withdraw consent, robocallers will exploit these protection gaps, the advocates say.”
More unfortunately, another significant problem comes to bare in that all robocalls are not necessarily spam or even bad. Whack-a-mole was simple: hit all the moles. But robocalls are trickier as some are bad disguised as good and others are safe but simply a nuisance.
So how do you know which calls to “whack” and which to accept?
Knowing When to “Whack” A Caller
That’s right, not every robocall is actually bad or something to avoid. Some examples of “good” robocalls include:
- Your dentist has a service to remind you of your annual cleaning.
- An Amber Alert is issued when a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger.
- Your local boutique invested in technology to make it easier to inform you of their latest specials.
- The Emergency Broadcast System is trying to alert you and your family in the event of natural or man-made disasters.
Of these examples, the Emergency Broadcast System may mean your life or death while the Amber Alert may mean someone else’s. The others are clearly a courtesy but no less important under specific circumstances.
Bottomline, you don’t have to play “whack-a-mole” to figure out which calls to take and which to ignore, and it is easier than you think to get started. In fact, it’s free and you can get started in less than 5 minutes.
Start blocking the right calls, once and for all.