Northampton Press

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by The Press in Opinion

‘Drop dozens now: Who wants to be fat?’

I don’t want an automatic pet feeder.

I wouldn’t mind making engraved items at home or receiving a luxury car rental coupon.

“Drop dozens now: Who wants to be fat?” was in my email today. I don’t want to be fat. Do they think I’m fat?

Yes, I want to sleep better, and I don’t need a levitating moon lamp.

And yes, today, I received several messages on how to safely remove earwax.

Did I ask for these messages? Absolutely not.

Even with the best Internet filters available at our company, I get more than 30 unsolicited messages each day that clog my email and waste my time.

According to Pencor System Administrator Bob Miller, “While near impossible to eliminate unsolicited email from your life, there are some things that can be done to help mitigate them. It’s a good idea to keep your primary email address private, only providing it to family and friends.

“For all other purposes, obtain a free email address from one of the reputable providers online. Refrain from opening email that you do not recognize and are not expecting; never reply to one. Be suspicious of the “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of an email. If you do not have on online history with the source and respond using this option, you’re likely telling a spammer they’ve reached an active account.

“Take advantage of the ability to train your email for what you consider spam, if it’s an option. Never reply to an email with account, financial or personal information, even from sources such as utility companies you recognize. Sign on to your account through its website, or go ‘old school’ and call them on the phone.”

If annoying emails are not enough, I, like many others, are receiving the unwanted soliciting telephone calls on both my home phone and cellphone.

Years ago, I registered my home number and family cellphone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry managed by the Federal Trade Commission, The site assures consumers that once you register your number, there is no need to register again.

The Federal Trade Commission says you “can reduce the number of unwanted sales calls by signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free. Most legitimate companies don’t call if your number is on the registry. If a company is ignoring the registry, there’s a good chance it is a scam.”

The commission says if you get these calls, even after you are registered, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC on the same website.

If you are registered on the site and you get a sales call, the FTC recommends not interacting in any way: “Don’t press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to a live person. Doing so will probably lead to more unwanted calls. Instead, hang up and file a complaint.”

We’ve also been warned not to say “yes” to one of these unsolicited calls when they ask if this is the lady or man of the house or ask for you by name. If you say yes, they may record that and then sign you up for something with your verbal “yes” approval on a recording.

If we engage these unsolicited calls, we may find ourselves the recipients of the callers who threaten arrest because we didn’t pay our taxes or those who say there is a virus on the computer and we must pay them money to repair it — two of the most popular scams. Those are the situations that end up on our police pages here at The Press.

Since 2009, the FTC said it has seen “a significant increase in the number of illegal sales calls, particularly robocalls. The reason is technology. Internet-powered phone systems make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world and to display fake caller ID information, which helps them hide from law enforcement. To date, the FTC has sued hundreds of companies and individuals who were responsible for placing unwanted calls and has obtained over a billion dollars in judgments against violators.”

Those who violate the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall can be fined up to $41,484 per call.

“Unsolicited phone calls have become a more frequent problem; many use techniques that make it appear they are coming from a local number,” Miller said. “If you do not recognize the number, don’t answer it. If it’s important, the caller will leave a voicemail. If you’re fortunate enough to subscribe to a digital phone service that provides call management features, enable the option to route all incoming calls to voicemail. Then, build an exception list of phone numbers for friends and family that you will allow to ring through.”

The FTC also suggests looking into a call-blocking solution. There are online call-blocking services, call-blocking boxes and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls.

On my iPhone, there is a way to block unwanted calls if I choose; however, as soon as I block one number, it seems someone is calling back on a different number.

There is an app for my AT&T iPhone called AT&T Call Protect, which blocks unwanted calls or noting the call is a probable spam call. It is free, but data charges may apply.

On Verizon, according to Assistant Manager Hilary Yusko, with Pencor Wireless, there is an app called Call Filter, which will block unwanted calls based on risk level and silence the spam. There is a monthly fee, and data charges may apply.

Other cellphone carriers may have similar apps, so contact your provider to see what you can do to stop these calls for your own safety and peace of mind.

Are you willing to pay money to block these unwanted emails or telephone calls? Or will you suffer like so many with these constant attempts to take your money?

Back to my fat emails — I don’t know anyone who “wants to be fat.” But I’m smart enough to know I will not “drop dozens now” after clicking on the unsolicited email and giving them a credit card number.

We are all smarter than this.

Debbie Galbraith


East Penn Press

Salisbury Press