IM–The New Caller ID

Headline: I’ve pretty much reached the point that if you want to call me, you had better IM (Instant Message) me first.

I’m almost always online these days… and if I’m not, then I’m probably not in a position to talk on the phone. I’ve notice that increasingly phone calls are made immediately after IM’ing a person. I had three such phone calls today. I have also notice that there are more scams going around these days. The latest one to hit my work number is for “Credit Card Services”. There is a great thread about Credit Card Services on City-Data.com that talks about this.

These guys are bad. The key things they do wrong are:

  • They fake the caller ID to a number of some poor unsuspecting person. (I’m glad I read that post before I bothered the person at the number that showed up on my Caller ID.)
  • Pressing the number 3 to discontinue further notices does nothing.
  • They call at all hours.
  • They call my work number.

The message goes something like this:

“…eligibility for lowering your interest rate to as low as 6.9%. Your eligibility expires shortly so please consider this your final notice. Press the number 3 to discontinue further notices, or press the number 1 on your phone now to speak with a life operator and lower you interest rate. Thank you. Have a great day.”

Over 99% of the people I want to talk with have either my e-mail (and are on the safe senders list… as anything not on the safe senders list is marked as spam) or are on one of my IMs (Live Messenger for personal, or Office Communicator for work).

I think I’ll try an experiment and not answer the phone unless 1) it’s a pre-arranged phone call, or 2) the person has IMed me stating that they will call me. If that works, I might forward my calls to voicemail until one of the conditions above is met, then I’ll merely turn off the forward to v-mail.

BTW… This is pretty easy for me. I use Vonage for my phone service. It makes working with your phone very easy. And while I thought I wanted them to allow blocking of specific numbers, I now realize that’s pointless given the ability of companies to fake Caller ID information now. Just search for “fake caller id” or “spoof caller id” and you’ll see entire companies dedicated to faking data. For some reason I thought that would be illegal, but they seem to get away with it.

A note on Vonage… I tried to remember how long ago I signed up with them… it was May 2004! I was certainly not the first, as that person signed up 2 years earlier. But I’ve been with them a long time now and I’m very happy. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with a phone service in my lifetime. I guess if this encourages you to sign up for Vonage, tell them I sent you. (Thanks)

So now, unless you have an online connection to me, you will probably not reach me by phone.

At a future date, I’ll do a post on how I manage my cell phone… Those of you that knew me when I travelled a great deal will be quite surprised at my new practices…

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