Please spare me from cold callers
PUBLISHED: 19:17 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:55 03 November 2018
I never fail to be amazed at how many random people call me on my landline. A couple of years ago I wasn't at home most days, but now I'm actually working from home, I'm available to spar with the numerous callers. They appear to come in waves and I've been riding the crest of one lately. I suspect I'm not alone.
Setting aside the infuriating silent phone calls, there’s an endless queue of dubious folk hell-bent on getting information and possibly, if I’m stupid enough, some bank details.
I got one of those calls where they claim to be from BT to tell me my internet connection had been compromised. They then get you to log on and proceed to plunder all your information, if you’re naïve enough to go that far. I usually go along with them for a while as I’m fascinated by the sheer audacity of it all. If anything, I enjoy the sport of wasting their time and putting a bit of futility into their day. I see it as a small victory.
I carried on a perfectly civil conversation over several minutes until I said calmly, “This is a scam, isn’t it? You’re after getting details off my computer, so I’m reporting this to the authorities.” There was a moment’s silence. “I hope you die soon,” he said, menacingly. I laughed out loud due to the shock of the threat. “I hope you do too,” I said, sinking to his level. We parted company. He put the phone down first. I’m still very much alive, I can’t speak for him.
Then it appeared I’d been in an accident and a nice lady was telling me she’d called to get some details. I wracked my brains but couldn’t recall any mishap. I said so. She asked again, slightly differently. I asked for a hint. Then her reply made no sense. It dawned on me this was an automated system. What amazing lengths these scammers go to!
Then, a new cold call experience for me.
“Hello Mr Clayton (he knew my name), I’m calling about renewing the warranty on your Samsung TV.” He said he was John Smith and told me the company he was from. Off he went on his convincing sales pitch. It was all going very well from his point of view because we’d bought a TV sometime around a year ago, so this was all plausible and therefore I was making all the right noises. Around £48 a year for three years would see my TV insured against all sorts of malfunctions and mishaps. We carried on a while. I said I wasn’t sure. He offered a call-back number and said to ask for him. He was Keiron. “Hang on,” I said, “You told me you were John Smith a moment ago.” Oh, I sometimes use my middle names,” he said, shiftily, thinking on his feet. It caused me to chuckle. We were suddenly in Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch territory. “He’s not dead, he’s resting! Lovely plumage.”
Anyway, I wasn’t going to arrange anything with what was tantamount to a cold caller and I said as much to Keiron. “Our company’s details are on the receipt you got for the TV,” he said, hopefully. (“The Norwegian Blue likes kipping on its back”).
When my wife returned I asked her where the receipt might be for the Samsung television. “What Samsung TV,” she said, “We’ve got a Toshiba!” It was in the tone of voice wives reserve for when their husbands are very, very occasionally wrong. I was on shaky ground. The manufacturers name appears on the screen every time you switch it on! Not only was I banged to rights, so was Keiron or indeed, John Smith. She shook her head in despair. I may not be left at home on my own from now on.
Be careful out there, everyone.