update: really aggressive spam callers are giving me anxiety attacks

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who was getting such abusive spam callers at work that she was having anxiety attacks? Here’s the update.

Unfortunately the calls did not stop altogether, but they did become less frequent. I originally thought this was one singular man making the horrid calls but eventually a woman claiming to be from another company also started calling, and then a totally different man also did it from another company. All of them vile in their own special ways. A few commenters brought up that it could be someone we know doing this, maybe an employee with a grudge or something. We looked into it and unfortunately nothing came of it, it really was random companies cold calling us. We never contacted authorities about it though, maybe we should have.

Immediately after your answer was posted, the President, VP and I sat down and read through some of the suggestions. While going through it, we started to realize having the line open in the office wasn’t even necessary. We are a really small, specialized company and due to Covid, about 75% of the calls were cold calls of some sort (spam, scam, or other people wanting to work with us as a subcontractor). As mentioned in the first letter, everyone but us 3 were working from home, so anyone that needed to contact the people WFH were already calling their direct cell phone numbers. We decided that I would log the type of calls we got one week, business related, scam or spam, and messages to off site staff, to see if the line was necessary anymore and, well, it wasn’t. The whole week I got maybe 2-3 real calls, spam calls and the typical hostile ones. After that, we took our office number off the website and temporarily off of everyone’s email signatures (there are only 10 of us total so this wasn’t hard) and we changed the setting on the phone to a menu where you select a number and leave a message based on your selection. All clients were given their teams direct contact information so they weren’t left in the dark about the change. We also added an info email, so any potential new clients could email that for questions and such.

This curbed it for a while, and the callers would never leave messages so I never had to deal with the abuse going through the messages in the morning. Eventually they learned to con the menu though (which still had an option to get through for emergencies) and it started again, although on a much smaller scale. At this point my anxiety had resolved itself and the calls were less hurtful to me, I think just getting support made me ease up a bit. I would just immediately hang up and rather than dealing with them calling back several times (which was already harder for them to do because of the menu) I’d just unplug the phone for a while. Not the best solution and we had 2 instances where it caused problems, but we figured out a system for that too that’s currently working.

One day instead of just hanging up on him after his first derogatory comment I plainly told him that he would never, ever get on the phone with my boss, per his instructions, and if he was doing all this for a commission he should start filing for unemployment now, since he wouldn’t get that commission from us. Well, he called me the B word and hung up and I haven’t heard from him again! I did get one more call from the woman but she was mild in comparison and I used the same ‘hang up and unplug the phone” tactic. Rather than getting 25 calls a week, I get maybe 1 or 2 bi weekly.

So yeah! Very happy to have gotten the support from your readers, I think reading all the comments was a big help in easing my anxiety! I imagine this guy will call back at some point, because he is obviously obsessive at the very least, but as of writing this letter, I have had 2 weeks of bliss. I actually wrote this update because a coworker asked how it was going and I didnt even realize life had been so peaceful!

Thank you to you and your readers for wonderful suggestions!

Update to the update:

Womp womp, my peace is over. Just got another call. But i’m still feeling good and it no longer gives me a full blown anxiety attack, so I still take all of this as a win.

{ 189 comments… read them below }

  1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    so very, VERY glad that things are better! That sounded really terrifying, honestly. Hoping the relative peacefulness continues forever and ever!

    1. Joan Rivers*

      I don’t see how calls that were this upsetting were not reported. Is there nowhere to report them to? And why would you not?
      Interacting or arguing w/callers like this seems counter-productive to me.

        1. TardyTardis*

          The police are often interested in abusive phone calls, because in so many cases they lead up to abusive and/or threatening behavior. There’s a Star 69 or some such to report them to the phone company (if you have a landline).

  2. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

    I really, really want to know who tf is that desperately aggressive in a cold call…? And how on earth do they think hostility and brute force will get them what they need when they’re not the ones in a position of power? I get a lot of spammy vendors that will ping me monthly due to the nature of my job and have seen an uptick in “can you refer my friend’s friend’s startup to your org” but both are easy to filter.

    OP, I am so glad that you’ve been able to find respite. It is wonderful news.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Exactly this! I could vaguely understand their being strongly pushy and over familiar, but mean?! That only makes sense in the context of the “we are the tax office and unless you send us a grand you’ll end up in prison” scam.

      LW, thank you for the update. I’m glad you have the kind of coworkers/managers who agree that this is unacceptable and are willing to try different possible solutions.

      I hope your recent experience was a one-off.

    2. OP*

      It was bizarre. I have no other words to be honest. I still remember how thrown off all of us were after the first call.

      I have no clue how that would be profitable but the fact it happened so many times makes me think that there must be a 2% chance of something good (for them) coming from it. One of those “even a broken clock is right twice a day” kind of thing

      1. MK*

        More likely someone is selling an overaggressive sales pitch tactic and the roght/wrong people bought it.

        1. Julia*

          I somehow doubt that. This is such an utterly strange phenomenon that I have to believe it’s a targeted campaign of harassment by a disgruntled customer, client, or former employee. I know LW said there was a woman’s voice as well, but even wackadoos have friends. The very fact that there are TWO callers taking this incredibly weird approach actually convinces me they’re in cahoots.

        2. Rose*

          But didnt OP say the caller then also yells at the president? It seems like very weird prank calls

          1. Selena*

            Maybe they don’t know wether the company is big or small and they planned to bluff themselves through several management layers

      2. Kevin Sours*

        Probably a mix of working just often enough to be worth doing and the people for whom it works being constitutionally unable to recognize when to quit.

      3. Pants*

        I’ve had to be the gatekeeper for calls like this. It’s jarring and I’m really really glad you have the support of your company behind you. At one company I worked for, we didn’t transfer any calls unless they had a contact name. I got a lot of heat for that one but my responses became automatic. “I’m sorry, it’s against company policy to transfer any calls without a full contact name. Would you like to leave a message with me and I’ll pass it along? …No, I’m sorry, I can’t transfer you to a voicemail unless you have a full contact name….” lather, rinse, repeat. I got called all sorts of stuff. Sometimes I laughed at them and asked if they thought calling me names would really work, since I was obvioulsy the only way they’d ever get through to anyone.

        Then there were the people who would say “Yes, we service your copier–would you tell me what the Whatever-Number is on the back?” so they could send products we didn’t order and then invoice us for them. Big old scam back in the day. They’d always say “the copier right behind you” when they called. I’d always reply, “If you serviced our copiers, you’d know there isn’t one behind me. Good luck elsewhere.” Again, lots of name calling. (And me laughing as I hung up.)

        If you have the time, I say log the calls you get. A group of admins wound up doing this at my last job. They used the same tactics you’ve been getting. We started a spreadsheet with the number (as it showed up on the caller ID–I’m sure some/ass were spoofed), the name the person gave us–we asked if it wasn’t offered, where they were from, who they were trying to reach etc. Then we’d put in notes if they were rude, what they called us, etc. We only had to use it against one repeat caller, but it was satisfying to log them at least.

        As for the people calling you names saying they’ve got a meeting with someone, shut them down. “Sir/Ma’am/Whatever, I’m looking at X’s calendar right now. The call they’re on right now is recurring weekly. I suggest you use the method in which you booked this meeting to reschedule. I cannot help you further.” Click.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          The sad thing about the toner scam is that many people are so used to just doing whatever someone asks (so they can be seen as a “good employee”), that it works far more often than you’d expect.

          I worked for a company where we all had the same three-digit central office code, so you could just dial random numbers for the four last digits and get someone. I cannot tell you the number of times I saw someone moving a copier or printer around to look for numbers. I’d ask what was up and the person would say “the toner people need the ID number” and I would have to explain why you should never answer the phone and do what some complete stranger asked you to do. More often than not, I’d have to take the person over to the office manager who handled all of the toner orders to explain that the supplier would never call some guy sitting next to the printer for information. I’d leave while the person was still arguing “But we’ll run out of toner!”

          1. Amaranth*

            Another version of that is they simply send a bill – with or without crappy toner. The idea is large companies will just pay whatever comes across their desk if it mentions a date of delivery.

          2. Pants*

            I found out about it because I put them on hold and asked my manager which copier they meant. I was very young. I’m almost (ALMOST) surprised it’s still happening. I have to hope those people are being paid well; they can’t possibly like their job. At least that’s what I’m choosing to believe.

        2. singlemaltgirl*

          is there no way to get your phone company to block these numbers? we’ve had to do that on occasion (not nearly to the extent of the OP). we have disgruntled family members who don’t like that we’ve empowered member of their family to leave them. so the phone calls can be…quite something. the google reviews we can’t do anything about. but the phone company does block numbers for us regularly – especially when we can demonstrate a pattern of harassment.

        3. Cactus*

          The toner scam is still very much alive. The last receptionist job I worked in 2016 got those calls all the time.

        4. Sinister Serina*

          I had someone try to pull the toner scam on me, after years of dealing these people. At this point, I was still polite and told them I was, but only dealt with Xerox and hung up. She called me back and said “listen you little bitch…’ but at that point I started laughing really hard, told her she made my day and hung up again. She didn’t call back, but that was my nickname at the office for months.

        5. TardyTardis*

          Although I would be so tempted to reply in a robot voice, “Thank you for calling XYZ Company. Your call is very important to us”, and then start on a spiel of your own for the company’s products/services. And then abruptly hang up, as if the caller’s own spam killer service just kicked in.

      4. ArtsNerd*

        Being extremely aggressive and “aggrieved” is a way for scammers to break through people’s normal reactions and put them in a position of instinctually trying to de-escalate and appease the person yelling at them.

        I’ve had it happen to me twice in my first job at a performance venue by different people trying to scam free tickets from us. The first was bewildering until he tried to escalate to the director who hadn’t worked there for years. Asshole still managed to wrangle himself backstage despite my asking the security guard specifically to block his access. Days like that, I wish I were

        The second was wild, because I was doing a colleague in a small industry a favor by selling tickets out of our holds for an otherwise sold-out, reserved seating show. WTF, Eileen: we know who you are. Do you think I’m not going to tell other people you’ve got serious integrity issues?

    3. Emi*

      I have had scam callers ask for, uh, intimate favors when I said I wanted to be put on their do not call list. I don’t think it has to make sense. They’re just venting their id.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        I only had someone say a flat out “no” to that request to be removed from their list for the first time recently. I was like “um, what??” cause I’d never had someone react that way before. He got progressively ruder and ruder and I flat out said “wow I have never had a cold caller be so rude before this is ridiculous” and he was laughing at me the whole time and at some point said something about knowing where I lived which honestly left me terrified for the rest of the day! I am choosing to believe though based on his very thick accent that he was an outsourced cold-caller probably living very far away from me. Also, later that day I decided to call the number back and it was clear they had spoofed some random dude’s number. The whole thing was very sketchy and upsetting.

        That was really a one-time experience for me though (at least so far, knock on wood). I don’t know what I would have done if that guy kept calling back!

      1. Dzhymm*

        I think at some point it becomes an ego thing more than anything else. There’s a certain type of caller that I call “Sales Bros”; testosterone-fueled, highly aggressive, usually have spectactular sales numbers because they’ll stop at nothing to close. When you make it clear that they’re going to get nowhere with you they lash out like wounded animals. It’s not like they believe that insulting you, your company, your gender, and your grandmother is going to lead to a conversion; more like their macho pride demands that they put you in your place.

        I mean, I’m a guy but after dealing with how some of these pushy bros won’t take no for an answer I now have a tiny inkling of what a lot of women put up with all the time…

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      I’ve had two aggressive door-to-door salespeople in the last week, both selling pest control services, and I wondered the same thing. Mostly if you tell someone you’re not interested they say thanks and leave, but both of these guys just kept talking until I shut the door in their faces. They stood unusually close to the door, too, which most respectful door-to-door campaigns specifically avoid because of how intimidating it is.

      Who is actually signing up with these companies? How can this possibly be worth their time?

      1. irianamistifi*

        Standing aggressively close to the door is also intimidating in Covid times. I’m gonna assume you’re a carrier and you’re purposefully trying to spew your germs in my house. Stand back, and wear a mask please!

      2. pope suburban*

        We used to have these really pushy proselytizers where I live. I never answered the door for them because I knew what was up, but one time, these three ladies stood in front of the door for at least ten minutes. I think, in hindsight, that maybe they were tired of having to do this and wanted a moment to chat, but at the time it was decidedly creepy. It reminded me of the beginning of more than one horror movie, and I didn’t appreciate the feeling of being trapped. Another time, they left but then one of the guys stopped on the stairs outside the kitchen window and stared in. I pretended to ignore him as I finished cooking my breakfast burrito and made my way to my phone on the counter- at which point he knew he was about to get an unscheduled portrait and booked it out of there. Management mostly is terrible and lazy, but I appreciate that they got these people to take a hike. There was just a level of aggressiveness and persistence that was scary; I don’t care if they think they’re doing our mortal souls a favor, not if they make us think we’re about to, well, shuffle off the mortal coil (I kid, mostly, but this was legitimately unsettling stuff to live with and I don’t think it’s a good tactic for any message).

        1. Pants*

          When I first moved into my place, that was a problem for me too. I hung a pentagram of bells outside my door. Haven’t had one since. We’re talking over 10 years now.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I wouldn’t open the door to anyone I don’t know in Covid time. And there are some I know who I might ignore, or yell through the door to call or text. Covids been wonderful for grumps like me.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I had one of those two weeks ago. I live in a neighborhood that supposedly prohibits the door to door guys – but the pest people like to claim “your neighbor Krissi has us out – we’re just checking to see if you’d be interested while we’re here” shtick. Only problem for them is “Krissi” is the person I bought the house from five years ago. The polite ones who leave when I ask are fine – but I did shut the door in the face of that guy – didn’t want to accept no, and started yelling to “speak to the decision maker, because no woman could be in charge of the household budget, and no sane one would turn down pest control.”
        Door closed – then came back with phone dialing the police in his face when he didn’t want to leave….

        1. ampersand*

          Speak to the decision maker?! No woman could be in charge of the household budget??!?!?

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Spouse cackled when I told them about it. Said if they had to come to the door they would have just slammed it.

            Seriously this company just keeps using the name of the people we bought the house from half a decade ago now from. Like pick a new fake name at least.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I’ve had guys asking for the “man in charge” at work and “head of the household” at home. I always told them that it was a woman in charge, and that I was the head of the household, and somehow they didn’t believe me. Not that I was going to put them through to my boss (who actually was a woman at that point), or buy whatever they were trying to flog to the head of the household, but their doubt definitely put me right off helping them in any way.

        2. Working Hypothesis*

          We had one of these “I’ve got a few appointments with your neighbors and I’m trying to fill in my schedule” exterminators recently. I didn’t think it was true, but I didn’t really care either way. I just said that we had a pest control service we were happy with (true, ever since they got rid of our ants last year) and fortunately, he went politely away.

    5. Mrs. Hawiggins*

      Exactly. Someone called me a B when I wouldn’t put them through and I said, “Calling me a B isn’t going to get me to transfer you either.” Never called again. I had bosses in the past that would be that passive, “Well you know they’re just trying to get to me,” at which point I told them their next assistant would probably let them.

      They worked the issue out.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        “I told them their next assistant would probably let them.”

        I love this SO MUCH. Return problem to sender!

    6. Just @ me next time*

      I can understand why the caller might use that technique once per phone number if they were targeting a massive list of companies. They would just need one person who is stressed or confused or new to their role to fall for their trick and forward the call to the president/CEO. Then, presumably, they would switch to some other tactic once on the phone with the big boss. It’s like those scammers that call to tell you the police need you to pay a fine in Apple gift cards. Even if 99.9% of the people they call see right through the scam, they’re trying to reach that one person who is especially vulnerable, like older adults with dementia or people who immigrated from a country where police extortion is commonplace.

      What surprises me is this caller trying it so many times on the same person. You would think after a couple of failed attempts, they would accept defeat and move on to a new target.

      1. PivotPivot*

        My 25 year old daughter fell for this. 25! She eventually got her money back but I was incredulous that she fell for this. 25!

        1. Nikki*

          My little sister (24) almost fell for the one where they call pretending they’re going to file charges against you for tax fraud. Thank goodness her fiance’s sister was there and told her to hang up!

          They tried calling me and I would waste their time, then tell them off for scaring my sister, lol

        2. Me*

          In my local we’re having a rash of this where scammers are claiming to be the local sheriff’s office and demanding gift cards for payment. And the article about it stated a local nurse practitioner (so clearly very educated) fell for it to the tune of 12K. I’m in no way victim blaming but I do not understand the mechanism by which seemingly non-vulnerable people like Just mentioned fall for it. Scammers are terrible human beings.

          1. Merci Dee*

            The calls typically start with high pressure and pure aggression right from the moment the victim picks up the phone. It can be very disconcerting if you’re not expecting that when you answer, and then that gives the scammer the tiny opening he/she needs to plant that little seed of doubt . . . “maybe I really am in trouble with the IRS/the sheriff’s department/etc.”. And that’s all the scammers need to be off and running.

            And I agree with you totally, Me. Scammers are terrible human beings.

            1. ThatGirl*

              One year on New Year’s Day I had a cop come to my apartment; he was investigating a minor hit-and-run in our parking lot and the guy picked my car at random because the color was the same as the paint left on his car. The cop asked if I had been driving the night before or hit anything and I was a little tired, flustered and hungover so I said something about how I didn’t think so… and he seized on that for a minute, like, wasn’t I *sure*?

              Not quite the same, and we got it cleared up (and the way the guy’s car had been scraped, it was clear it couldn’t have been mine) but I can definitely understand that moment of doubt.

              1. purplehawke*

                OMG, something very similar happened to me a few years back. Hit-and-run, similar paint color, all that jazz. In my case, my husband came outside while the cop was yelling at me, and *of course* he was taken seriously when he said that no, we hadn’t been driving the night before.
                But yes, that flash of self-doubt was there, and I don’t know what I’d have been harangued into if my resident Person Who Gets Taken Seriously hadn’t arrived when he did.

            2. Kes*

              This. High pressure and (false) urgency, and they’re deliberately trying to push you into panicking and reacting without stopping to think

            3. Mike*

              I remember the first time I got one of those calls; it was supposedly from the Social Security Administration saying my SSN was being cancelled because it was involved in a drug deal, but I had to give them all my personal information to confirm my identity had been stolen. I strung them along with a few questions while I wrote down the time they called, their number, and who they said they were so I could report them online to the FTC, and then I asked, “So, could you give me your ID number and the name of the office you’re calling from? You do have one, right? It’s a federal offense to impersonate a federal officer, you know.” They hung up without another word, and it was so satisfying to then report them on the FTC page.

            4. londonedit*

              Yep, I fell for one of those Amazon text scams. I got a text saying there had been a new login to my Amazon account, click the link if it wasn’t you. Stupidly clicked the link and it all looked legit, there was a page with one of my recent purchases saying ‘Please confirm you purchased this item’, yes…then it said ‘Please confirm the card details used for this purchase’ and FINALLY my stupid brain went ‘Ohhhhh no, this is NOT GOOD’. Immediately rang my bank and cancelled my card. I also nearly fell for one of the ‘Royal Mail’ text scams that’s doing the rounds here at the moment – they say they have a parcel to deliver to you, but there’s a fee to pay before delivery. It works perfectly in Covid times because so many people are ordering online rather than going to the shops, and there was a huge rash of these scams in the run-up to Christmas when people will probably have ordered a ton of stuff and might not be keeping track of what’s due to arrive when. Luckily I didn’t click the link on that one, but I did spend five minutes scratching my head trying to think what I could have ordered.

              1. EvilQueenRegina*

                One time my mum got an email allegedly from British Telecom claiming she’d placed an order for a new BT Home Hub to be delivered to some address miles away (the address apparently did exist; no idea if the name on the email was actually the name of someone living there). She opened it when she’d literally just got up that morning and initially believed it and clicked the link. It then went to asking for card details but by that time she was awake enough to catch on and closed it down without entering anything.

            5. TardyTardis*

              I might mention that I qualified marksman on the M-4 the first afternoon I ever shot it. This seems to make such people back off a bit.

          2. meyer lemon*

            Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game is a really good analysis of what can make people vulnerable to con artists, and she mentions that it is often just bad timing. If someone catches you at a particularly vulnerable moment, you can fall for scams that you normally wouldn’t, because it’s all based on emotions, not logic. (Similarly, many QAnon victims are initially pulled in by loneliness.) The shame of falling for the scam will often keep people more entrenched in it, or reluctant to admit it, which perpetuates the myth that you have to be unusually foolish to be the victim of a scam.

            1. Maltypass*

              Working in retail people will sometimes scam staff by paying in cash then deliberately confusing them ‘No I gave you fifty so you owe me thirty’ – always being aggressive and usually with younger team members, and it’s often scuppered by another staff member intervening calmly because from the outside it’s an obvious scam. When you’re in it though, it’s overwhelming and the social pressure to do what the customer says is strong.

              1. starsaphire*

                Ooo, yes, I remember one place had a “solution” for this — leaving the customer’s bill on top of the register until change was made and accepted. Which drove me crazy, because one little gust of wind could have really ruined my whole shift…

                1. Tali*

                  This practice is common where I live, and there is a heavy magnetic clip used to pin the bills to the register’s surface until the transaction is completed.

              2. MassMatt*

                I worked retail and encountered several change scams. Arguing “No, I gave you a 20, not a 10” was pretty common but the more complicated one involved “here, let me give you another $10 and you can just give me $20”, trying to stop you and get you to mix the store’s money with theirs. They worked in pairs, at busy times, and scammer #2 would pretend to be unrelated and go “yeah, that’s right, he gets $20, come on, hurry up”. Sleazy.

                I also witnessed someone at a convenience store buying hundreds of dollars worth of Apple gift cards. The cashier tried to warn him about scams but the guy was convinced Bill Gates had asked him for a favor and would pay him back double. He held up his phone with a pic of Bill Gates as “proof”. The thought that Bill Gates needs to email some random person to send him money via gift cards (APPLE cards, no less!) because he can’t get cash was so preposterous I couldn’t stop laughing. I would have felt sorry for him but he was nasty and obnoxious. Nasty and dumb is not a good combination. Enjoy being taken, dude.

                1. EvilQueenRegina*

                  You’d be surprised. I had a lot of trouble convincing my ex that the actor Stephen Amell hadn’t really asked him for gift cards. The thing was, the real actor was having problems with his cards in Istanbul on the day in question, so he thought Stephen Amell really needed the money.

              3. Anon for Today*

                Yep, whenever I would get cash for a transaction, I would place it next to the register, give them their change and receipt and then put the bill in the drawer.

              4. 'Tis Me*

                Back in my teens, I had somebody try to tell me she’d given me a £20, not £10. There weren’t any £20 notes in the till at that point. Had I pocketed it then to scam her? Well, short sleeves, no pockets, nowhere to put it… The cash dispenser must have given her the wrong note then and she didn’t notice. Yes, believable… One of these is orange and the other purple, and they’re slightly different sizes (to make it easier for people with visual disabilities to work out which they’re holding), but sure… Sometimes people do make genuine mistakes, but I’m *pretty certain* she was trying it on.

                (I had a few customers think I’d given them the wrong change and turn nasty when I didn’t immediately agree with them and hand over cash and accuse me of theft. But she sticks in my mind for batshit “then it must have been” alternative.)

                When I was a weekend supervisor with a n00b to train up, I made sure she knew that there was the possibility that a customer would accuse her of pocketing their cash so you do not keep any cash on you or behind the till. Having to do ad hoc till lifts to count up the cash and make sure that somebody’s got the right change is sometimes necessary but rare enough to be not a huge deal, but being accused of having deliberately stolen somebody’s money is never going to be fun, and if you have cash on you at the time, it’s harder to refute than otherwise.

                I did have one occasion where I gave somebody the wrong change and they corrected me and gave me back the extra – I think the £1 and £2 coins were in the same slot and I grabbed the wrong one. And a few times when people gave me cash, I put it in, the till opened and then they started with the changing it over. I’d get around that by just standing there with my hand out letting them swap coins around til they were done, recounting, then making change as needed. A few older customers commented that it was nice that I let them as so many people these days are entirely reliant on the till adding it up but yeah, the ones who do the wild crazy scramble then get random change amounts may have been reliant on that…

              5. SoloKid*

                I used to cashier and I’d suss out scammers by saying “sorry, I want to call my manager over to count my drawer.” Their missing change suddenly became less important and they’d always leave.

                Once, a cashier gave me incorrect change and I felt bad asking them to count their drawer to prove I wasn’t scamming them. They insisted I gave them a 20. The initial count came out even until I asked the manager to rifle through the $20s – coincidentally there was a $50 bill tucked in the middle of the pile despite me being the last customer.

            2. Escapee From Retail Heck*

              Yup these people just love playing into people’s emotions. My mother has fallen for the “your child is about to be arrested for non payment of a loan, they borrowed this amount, blah blah blah,” I had to tell her when she called me berating me for not paying my bills that no loan company would ever give someone whose signature wasn’t on the loan that info outside of the person who had signed dying and the estate dealing with closing out finances. It took my dad who was savvier about those types of things getting involved to get her to see that she’d been taken. She got calls for years after that because they knew she was an easy mark.
              After Dad died and she took out a large obit the calls started again, this time with the whole “your husband left his account open and you owe us $XXX.” They stopped when I was there one day to answer the phone and told them that she dealt with all the finances so if they couldn’t send her proof of that bill to the address they had on file then I guess they weren’t seeing their money.
              There’s a special room in the bad place for the people who are actually ok with doing this job.

              1. MCMonkeybean*

                Uggggh, reaching out to scam someone specifically because you saw their spouse died is the absolute scummiest of scummy things I can think of. I’m sorry she had to put up with that and glad that she had you to help her.

            3. Serin*

              If you wanted me to have trouble thinking clearly, asking me to do simple math in my head at the same time would be an extremely effective method.

          3. rachel in nyc*

            There is a huge difference between book smarts and common sense/street smarts.

            Some people only get one…

          4. Freya*

            It’s common enough here that some supermarkets have signs at the registers about it :-/

        3. Pennyworth*

          My cousin was sucked in by scammers because she is argumentative and when she got a call saying she had a credit with Famous Internet Company X she started arguing that she hadn’t bought anything from Company X in the last ten years, and so it went down the scam wormhole. She actually gave them her bank details and everything went very bad.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          A neighbor of ours did. She’s sort of the kind of person who would: She was born here but was raised in an isolated, never-learned-English immigrant family that is always desperate for money. My mom has gone rounds with her before about doing foolish get-rich-quick stuff but this last time the scammer cleaned her out and the bank mercifully did not make her pay them back for the rather large bad checks she helped him launder. I think she’s learned this time.

          1. MassMatt*

            If you fall for these schemes you get put on a “suckers list” which is bought and sold amongst various scammers. They will come back to rip a mark off again and again if they can. It’s a big problem with the elderly, whose families often find out too late, victims are often too embarrassed to admit what happened.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              See, I’m not sure I believe “the elderly” are necessarily the ones getting ripped off now. Maybe some years ago when the previous generation was less computer/phone savvy and had been raised to always be polite. I’m an older boomer, and everyone I know is like me; if someone calls who I don’t know, I hang up or tell them to piss off and then hang up.

              1. Ellie*

                My granddad is one of those ‘elderly’ who does get regularly ripped off. He used to be incredibly computer savvy and learnt how to do some basic programming in his early 70s. Now it is over 10 years later and he has Alzheimer’s, and is easily confused. We have put big signs on the phone and the front door, ‘only answer to family’, and his computer has been taken away, but it still doesn’t stop them. I hate scammers.

              2. londonedit*

                Absolutely – I did cyber security training a few months ago and one of the questions in the training was ‘which age group do you think are most likely to be victims of workplace cyber scams?’. It’s 18-24-year-olds, because they have less employment experience and tend to assume that ‘the IT department’ is in charge of everything and will magically protect their computer from any threats.

              3. Lily of the meadow*

                Nope; it absolutely happens. Scammers think your brains fall out of your ears when you turn 50. After I turned 50, the number of obviously stupid scam calls I receive has increased by about 1000%; it’s both hilarious and infuriating that scammers think getting older equals stupid.

        5. Case of the Mondays*

          They will often have a good excuse why they should be paid in gift cards. One scam I knew of said they were going to freeze your accounts and here’s a quick heads up. If you convert some of that cash to gift cards it will be safe. Now give me those gift card numbers so that we don’t accidentally freeze those too.

        6. Tired of Covid-and People*

          I’m glad you posted this, hopefully it will help dispel the notion that us older folks are all gullible and vulnerable. Quite a few of us are crusty and skeptical and think nothing of hanging up or closing a door, if we answer or open it in the first place. We’ve had a lot of experience and some younger folks have not, so they get caught in the con that we see a mile away. Sorry this happened to your daughter.

          1. Cathie from Canada*

            I got a call one morning where an absolutely plausible voice said they were Visa Security and had I just purchased a mattress online in Florida, and of course I said I hadn’t so the purchase should be declined. Then they asked me for my card number just to confirm and that’s when I thought “Hey, wait a minute” so I said ” Don’t you already have it? After all, you called me!”
            And they immediately hung up.

            1. londonedit*

              Yep – when someone legitimately tried to spend £900 in the Disney Store using my credit card details (WTF) my bank’s fraud department sent me a text telling me to call them (with no number or link in the text) and then when I did call them, they were the ones who had all the info and were telling *me* what had happened. At no point did they ask for my card number or PIN or anything like that.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        I think part of being successful in such an endeavor is an ironclad belief that if beating your head against the all ten times doesn’t work than the eleventh time will. Which probably works more than it should be leads to problematic failure states.

      3. Bubbles*

        I know professionals with advanced degrees who have fallen for the “send us Google Play cards or we’ll suspend your professional license” scam. I think they get more hits than one would imagine.

        1. Artemesia*

          I understand paying a debt you don’t owe — but I don’t understand how anyone would think a legitimate government agency or professional licensing board would be trading in gift cards.

          1. WellRed*

            This is what I don’t get. What agency or business would EvER want to be paid in gift cards? None!

      4. A Feast of Fools*

        One night when I’d come home from Happy Hour at my neighbor’s house and was a wee bit tipsy I *almost* fell for a banking scam. The caller spoke perfect U.S. English, used the correct bank name (it had recently changed), and told me that I needed to verify some account information for a $400 charge that had come through. At the time, I was on my 3rd or 4th replacement card because my credit card number kept getting stolen and used for fraudulent purchases.

        I remember thinking that $400 was a weirdly round number and so I asked the guy if he was sure he had the right person. Like, could he verify that he knew where I lived. He said, “Yes, of course. You are in the Texas region.”

        OK, first off, no one in the U.S. says “the Texas region” and, secondly, my bank would be able to give me my own address.

        So I asked him if I could call him back. He said No, that it was urgent and had to be taken care of immediately. And that if I called back in, it would take forever to get routed back to him because it’s a big call center. I said, “You’ll forgive me, but how can I be sure you *really* are my bank? Can you tell me what the main customer service number is? You know, the one on the back of my credit card?”

        And he gave me a number that was *one* digit off.

        I busted out laughing and congratulated him at how well-thought out his scam was but he had two glaring red flags and I said I wasn’t going to tell him what they were, he’d just have to hope that the next person he called wouldn’t pick up on the clues.

      5. lailaaaaah*

        I work IT for a company where most of the staff are very highly educated. Still got a call from an employee during the COVID WFH period asking if she had our permission to let ‘the nice man from the phone company’ remotely access her laptop to ‘check her wi-fi’.

        When I told her it was a scam and she should contact her phone provider directly if she was concerned, she said ‘oh, okay. Should I ask the man on the phone for the number?’

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I don’t get that either. It pretty much guarantees I’m not going to do business with you.

      Once at an old job, a pushy sales guy called from an equipment company and asked to speak with the field supervisor. He was out at a job site, so I told the guy that. He started yelling at me, “LISTEN YOU, my time is VALUABLE, now PUT your FIELD SUPERVISOR on the PHONE–” *Click!* I hung up.

      Later that week, when the FS came back to the office, I told him about the call and the name of the company. At first, he looked pissed off, but then he got this sort of mwahaha look on his face. I think he called them because later he told me not to worry about them. I would have loved to have been in the room when he did.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        If it works you are doing business with them. If it doesn’t you probably weren’t anyway. And by them I mean whoever is on the phone. They don’t care about your business with {company} because they aren’t getting the commission for it.

        1. allathian*

          True, but if the salespeople are nasty, the employer’s going to get a bad name. A few potentially big customers who refuse to do business with you because you employ jerks is going to hurt any business.

  3. JoAnna Wahlund*

    A few suggestions – you could engage them by getting as much information as possible and then report them to the FTC for spam/harassment. https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/

    If the calls are coming from the same people, are they also coming from the same numbers? if so, you can contact your phone company and block those numbers. If not, they are spoofing, and you can report them to the FTC as detailed above.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      How much to engage is a personal thing. If it were me, at some point I would try to have a conversation and ask what they were trying to accomplish. I expect this would involve long periods where they were yelling abuse, but following it up with a conversational tone and eventually you might end up with an actual conversation. Or maybe not. I also totally would put the receiver down without hanging up, and go about my business. I did that a lot last summer, when I was the person answering the phone.

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’ve done that, after connecting with a person behind the robocall. I asked a few questions to start filling out the online FTC complaint form, but the scammer got suspicious and hung up. Unsurprisingly, the caller ID was spoofed. Number not in service.

    3. A Person*

      From the original posting: “We have blocked the numbers the calls come from, but they just get another number and do it again a month later.”

  4. Tracy*

    I’m glad things have improved.

    I’m really surprised at the volume of calls you seem to be getting in this day and age of direct dial work numbers and email. I handle the front desk duties at my employer and it’s very rare that I even get a phone call at all!

    1. BethRA*

      I suspect it’s a sub-set of people stuck in the bottom of the call-center barrels. Because I can’t imagine these tactics are profitable.

      1. OP*

        I still kinda think it was an employee or maybe a customer that felt wronged, but nothing came of it. Just really weird

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I think I’m with you on this. Maybe they enlisted some friends or relatives to help out and that’s why you had more than one caller.

        2. drpuma*

          Please send another update if there is ever a big-picture resolution (although I bet you will have to involve the authorities). This sounds like it could turn into one of those years-in-the-future updates that all seem to start with “Hi Alison, you answered my question back in 2021. As it turns out….”

      2. CB*

        So about 25 years ago, I worked for about a week at a really sleazy call-centre before I realised it was a boiler room and walked away (I was a bit slow and naïve). If someone was deemed to be rude to one of the callers, it was quite common for other people in the office to start calling that person and making their lives hell. I think they basically did it to vent, but I honestly don’t know.
        It was an awful place with the workers being completely demoralised, and the long-term ones had lost their moral compass. I wonder if something similar is happening here.

    2. OP*

      Oh we get tons of cold calls, usually from someone that wants to work with us on a project (we are in construction). Like I’d say in a normal week (pre-pandemic when I really was the receptionist) id get roughly 20-30 cold calls of varying nature. That increased when we became more popular but slowed down drastically during the pandemic when businesses started closing (temp and permanently)

      Putting a caveat here that I might be using the phrase “cold call” inaccurately. I used it as “we had no business or reason to speak before and now you want to speak to me” but maybe it should be reserved for “You are a scammer bothering me”

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Your use of “cold call” was correct. It does not imply anything one way or the other about the legitimacy of the business proposition.

      2. Zephy*

        Putting a caveat here that I might be using the phrase “cold call” inaccurately. I used it as “we had no business or reason to speak before and now you want to speak to me” but maybe it should be reserved for “You are a scammer bothering me”

        No, that’s how I would use “cold call” (contacting someone with whom you have no previously-existing relationship, business or otherwise, with the intent of establishing same), I don’t think you’re off base with that. I’d describe the spam and scam calls as just that, spam or scams.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          From what I gather from talk to our Sales Team, in the world of Sales (and bleeding into the surrounding environs) you have Cold calls and Warm calls. Warm calls are where you have some kind of preexisting relationship with the client – maybe they used to buy your product/service in the past and you’d like to reopen that relationship. Cold calls are where you may as well have picked their number from the phone book (showing my age – do phone books still exist?)

      3. Campfire Raccoon*

        Also in construction. I have this one company that has called over and over, for the last ten years, asking for my FIL: who has been retired ten years. They don’t… I don’t know … **believe** me? Lately I’ve been saying he’s dead.

        I have tried everything to get them to stop, but they continue to call. Two of the salesmen won’t even identify which company they’re with half the time, because they know I’ll hang up. But what are they expecting? To somehow sneak through and get on the phone with a dead guy?

        1. OP*

          Yeah we have had some really unreasonable calls like that as well. But they do stop short of them asking for a dead guy!

          1. Campfire Raccoon*

            It’s so weird. My FIL never worked at our company in any real capacity. He’s never been an owner, signatory, or officer. But anyone with a googlebox can look at the corporation commission and see that I am. So why are they asking for him? Do my lady parts prevent me from making decisions on saw blades?

          2. Mike*

            I remember working as a telemarketer for a symphony orchestra a few decades ago. It was dispiriting work, because we were calling past subscribers, and by the workings of mere randomness, I was always the guy who got the phone number of the dead people. I finally quit after three calls in one night, “I’m sorry, he’s passed away.” Fortunately, none of them added, “Can I have him return your call?”

        2. Pennyworth*

          I would be sorely tempted to set up a line you could transfer them too, with the warning ”he’s pretty quiet and very hard of hearing, you might have to wait a while for a response, then switch them them through to dead silence.

          1. Campfire Raccoon*

            Once I muted the phone and set it down on the counter. I wonder how long he waited.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I got a call not that long ago for my grandmother . . . who died in 2004.

          I mean, I could try, but I doubt it will work, and if it does we have much bigger problems on our hands.

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            LOL – to add on “I mean, I could try, but it would take a seance and a medium. Do you happen to have one there because I’m fresh out on my end.”

          2. Cathie from Canada*

            Oooh, there’s an Twilight Zone episode Night Call about an old lady who gets a call from her dead fiancee’ s grave. Very creepy.

            1. Anonymous Today*

              There’s also the one where a little boy gets calls n his toy phone from his dead grandmother. It’s especially creepy because she kept trying to get him to be hers* while she was alive.

              *As opposed to being is parents’ kid.

        4. Elle Woods*

          My father, who has the patience of a saint, was in construction. He’d routinely have people call him trying to sell him things. I was in his office one day and heard him use this line, “Your time is valuable and so is mine. I’m not buying anything from you today, tomorrow, or ever. Let’s quit wasting each other’s time. Do not call me again.” It worked 99% of the time.

        5. Zap*

          When my ex’s mom passed away, people from the phone company kept calling to harass the dad to pay her phone plan (I think they had totally separate plans or something). Telling them she was dead didn’t stop the calls, but when he started asking if she had risen and then screaming about the zombie apocalypse, they dropped off pretty fast.

        6. Elizabeth West*

          Hah, Exjob would get calls asking for the deceased founder, whose name was the actual company name, kind of like Edward Jones (but not actually that). I was covering the front desk one day and someone called and asked for him. I said, “You would need a Ouija board, because he’s no longer with us.”

        7. EvilQueenRegina*

          I knew one call wasn’t legit when they were calling for the guy who’d been arrested and fired seven years earlier over child porn allegations. I didn’t get into the history of that at the time but now wonder if that would have scared them away!

      4. AdminX*

        Any resources for a voice to text message translation service? Then you can read them and know exactly what you’re dealing with and easy to delete!

  5. Momma Bear*

    I’m glad that OP got support and a plan. Sometimes just knowing someone has your back is half the battle.

  6. BethRA*

    Happy to hear that the nasty-grams have decreased and that you’ve gotten some support. But yikes, some of these callers.

  7. OP*

    OP here – Happy to say we have not received a single aggressive cold call since my update to the update.

    I wish I could say he realized he was barking up the wrong tree but it was just so unreasonable that I’m sure he will come back again at some point, even if it it just to hear himself talk

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve had a few aggressive cold callers, one particularly bad one from some Kathy Ireland infomercial thing that played on airlines. He tried to get through to the CEO (because I was listed as the PR contact person listed on our website) and he was very sexist and condescending and called me the secretary when I refused to put him through directly. But none rose to the level you were put through!

      Who were they calling FROM anyway? Was it a known company and you could report them, or was it mainly a scammer? I can’t imagine any legit company would allow that kind of abusive calling. We run several call centers and LDR outbound marketing and those people are all professional.

  8. Archaeopteryx*

    Even if you don’t unplug the phone after you hang up on them, if you have a “silently hang up on them within 4 seconds of determining it’s them” policy, you still have to listen to cumulatively very few seconds of these jackasses. Also, a silent click will be much more (deservedly) aggravating to them, and less work for you coming up with a retort.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Now I’m wondering how hard it would be for OP to set up a silent hold feature on their phone system. Instead of hanging up, put them on hold (clearing the line) and forget about them until they realize they are on hold and hang up. It might be more aggravating for them and delay them a few more seconds each iteration.

  9. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    Some tips for the remainder:

    – Forward them to Lenny. Lenny is a chat bot designed by an IT professional for the purpose of trolling telemarketers. ‘He’s’ an elderly man that’s senile and hard of hearing.

    – See if your phone vendor is able to set up a queue to nowhere. I’ve done this in the past. You forward them to this purgatory queue where they hear the same banal hold message on repeat (I set mine up for irregular intervals) until they hang up. Did they call back? Ope, right back to purgatory you go my man.

    1. ThatGirl*

      For a couple of years I worked on a customer service team and even though it wasn’t my main job, I had to help cover the phones. And someone definitely called US with Lenny once. Which remains bewildering to me, because we weren’t telemarketers and didn’t make outgoing calls unless we were calling someone back who’d contacted us first. It was a very confusing day.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I bet someone spoofed your number to call that person, and they called you with this Lenny thinking they were calling the original scammer.

        1. JB*

          No, people absolutely use Lenny to prank call as well. It used to be common to record prank calls like that and put them up on YouTube etc.

  10. North Wind*

    Glad to hear things are going a bit better.

    Have you heard of the comedian Joe Lycett? A lot of his material is from him engaging with email/phone spammers and scammers. He trolls the trollers, hilariously. He actually has a consumer rights tv show now where he takes on these types of problems for folks.

    You might enjoy some of his material for a few laughs :). https://youtu.be/yqifdHpqx8I?t=301

  11. Detective Amy Santiago*

    When I was answering phones, my favorite thing to do was put the aggressive sales people on hold until they got tired of waiting and hung up on their own. Though I certainly never dealt with anyone nearly this aggressive!

    1. Artemesia*

      Yeah if I were the op I think I would start saying ‘yes, right away’ and then put the line on hold. Rinse and repeat.

      It does sound like a personal vendetta so I hope the office is pretty secure.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      My grandad once told such a caller to hold on because he was watching the cricket. The caller hung on for about ten minutes.

  12. fogharty*

    We get spam calls from spoofed numbers on our office main line fairly often… I’ve been the only one in for several months so I answer that line. Usually they hang up right away when they get a business, although a few have tried the service call scam (they pretend to be from printer/copier repair and ask you to confirm the serial number of the device, then us that to invoice a ton of fake service calls.)

    If no one is here to answer the phone, it goes to voice mail, and a recording of any messages left are sent to the departmental email, so that has eliminated any spam/scam voice mails.

    If I get a scam call on my personal phone, however… (scam as opposed to telemarketing or other; to those I say “I’m not interested and I hope you have a good day”) but the really vile scams “The IRS has a warrant for your arrest unless you confirm your social security number, etc. etc.” well, those I have a bit of fun with. Hysterical crying at the thought there are armed IRS agents coming to my door and other histrionics.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Interesting. Last summer I was the lucky duck answering the office phone. I got innumerable business cold calls, for stuff like office cleaning services. I got few if any personal cold calls, like the ever-popular automobile extended warranty call. Those I only get on my personal phone.

      1. Lunch Ghost*

        I don’t think we’ve ever gotten the extended warranty one at my office, but we used to get the Google business listing one at least once a day, and less frequently Lisa (I think it was Lisa? Definitely a recorded message) from the Amazon Voice Department. And lately $200 has been charged to our Amazon account, to cancel please press one.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I never got those at the office, but I get them on my Google Voice number.

        The office calls were stuff like Yellow Pages, the Microsoft upgrade scam, the toner scam, and once, at OldExjob, multiple calls from “debt collectors” for one of our employees who’d had his identity stolen. All their numbers were spoofed; I finally had to tell those jerks that he no longer worked there.

    2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I got a cold call one time at work where the seller started by asking if I was pleased with our provider of a specific service.

      I replied that we were very happy with our provider of that service. Since we were that provider.

  13. Carrie Oakie*

    In a dream world, you put the guy on hold for 5 minutes. Then someone picks up and finds out any info they can – who are they representing what do they want etc, to report them to the FTC but also post all over social media.

    Then, you go back to the auto number, but in order for it to ring through to the operator they have to “enter your designated code” – anyone who doesn’t goes straight to VM regardless. The designated code is something you give to clients only. Via email or calling ahead.

    Finally, one you company site, have a CJ tact us form that needs to be filled out for any info that they might could call you for. We did this recently using TypeForm to help out main boss. She’s super welcoming and known in the industry for giving out her contact info, but this results in a flood of endless messages. So we put up a “contact us” form and it helps us designate who she’d talk to (new clients want us to rep them) can who someone else could talk to (wanting info about a service we provide.) it’s been great at creating a barrier and though it’s a little more work for, it is worth having her freed up a little to focus on more important tasks we need her input on.

  14. wayward*

    With really obnoxious unwanted callers, you can also quietly put the phone down and just let them talk themselves out until they finally figure out that nobody’s listening to them.

  15. Bubbles*

    If you want to be spammed relentlessly by an ever changing list of “account reps” tell Yelp you’re interested in working with them. I warned my last boss that they were scum and would not quit, but he just HAD to hear what they would propose. Cue getting calls every single day for weeks from various reps wanting to review our account. They would get quite snotty about talking to the business owner and I started hanging up on them.

    1. Self Employed*

      This was really tricky after I did custom work FOR Yelp, and of course all their vendors are required to have Yelp listings, and this spawns cold calls trying to sell me advertising. As my colleagues who have advertised on Yelp have not found it helpful for businesses similar to mine, that’s not where I want to do my ad spending.

  16. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I once witnessed the Director of a state tax department get a scam call about his “unpaid taxes”. He was in his office at work when it rang thru on his cell. Listening to him argue with the scammers was very amusing for everyone in earshot.

  17. M*

    I have been thinking about this original letter a lot lately, because I’ve been dealing with something similar. We have a very belligerent client who calls constantly, yells at me to put my boss on the line, and tells me that he will just keep calling until he talks to him. He refuses to give me any information other than “it’s an emergency” (I know for a fact, per Boss, that it’s not). When I tell him Boss is unavailable, he yells at me to put him on. It’s infuriating. I have been given permission to just tell him, “I’ll let Boss know you called, and he’ll call back when he’s available”, and then just hang up. After that, it’s straight to voicemail. He calls constantly for hours on end and fries my nerves to a crisp. I’m so glad that OP got the support they needed to help calm their anxiety!

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Ouch. That sounds awful. You know… sometimes you have to fire clients. Obviously that’s not your call, but your boss could let the client know that if they keep treating you this way that the company won’t be able to do business with them anymore.

      1. M*

        Oh, he knows. Boss sent the guy a letter basically telling him to stop harassing me or we will withdraw (law firm). He told me that he’s serious about withdrawing if needed, so to tell him if it escalates (since now I pretty much hang up after acknowledging he called).

  18. OlympiasEpiriot*

    It is great to feel supported!!

    (Sometimes that’s the best that can happen.)

  19. Kate*

    I used to work in an office where we got an insane amount of spam calls. They were all from different numbers but out of curiosity I called the number back once and to my surprise they answered, I asked what they wanted, and where they had been calling from and they hung up on me. So, as it was a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend and literally nothing was happening, I repeatedly called the number back and hung up for over two hours until they were begging me to stop.

    1. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I’ve gotten angry messages from people who got spam calls from someone spoofing my number, and who wouldn’t believe that I was not the person who’d called them. Spoofing is so common, I’d never do this. You’re just too likely to end up harassing a completely innocent person.

      1. Kate*

        Oh yeah, that has happened to me before too. They were always calling from 800 numbers and it was always the same people. I would never have done this if it was a local exchange.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          FYI to all – the State of UT has a bunch of 800’s area codes. Ever so much fun.

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I got a call from my own number! They spoofed my number to call me! And your own number can’t be blocked. Such a-holes. Ought to be law, especially with these fake auto warranty scams.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          The ones I’m getting a lot here (UK) are scammers telling me my National Insurance number has been compromised. The numbers they’re calling me from are the same as my actual mobile number except the last three digits being different.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        I’ve had this happen too. “Why did you call me?”
        “I didn’t.”
        “Your name was on my caller ID.”
        “Dude, I did not call you and I’m currently in a Loft dressing room. Spammers spoofed my number.”

      4. londonedit*

        My parents had the same thing – an angry person phoning them to complain they were getting calls from their number. My mum and dad had never heard of number spoofing so I had to explain it to them (and explain further to my dad that it wasn’t because they’d been hacked or someone had stolen their details), and the next time this person phoned them to complain, my mum explained that their number was clearly being spoofed and it had nothing to do with them.

  20. La Triviata*

    Years ago, the office I worked in, had heard a presentation from a company that provided a service we were interested in, but decided that we didn’t need it that badly and it was much too expensive. We told them that – that we weren’t interested and weren’t going to sign up with them, They then proceeded to call every day – often several times a day – trying to talk us into signing up. I kept telling them no (my boss refused to talk to them) and finally ended up calling and getting through to a supervisor, complained and it did eventually stop.

    Also, not quite that long ago, I was getting calls at home from a survey company. They called me every night for four months. Four months. I asked to be put on their do not call list and was told – snottily – that they didn’t have to maintain one (since they weren’t selling anything). Nothing I did would get them to stop. I called the FCC to ask if this was legal – that they assumed since they’d bought a list with my number on it I was obligated to answer their questions – and was told (long afterwards) that it wasn’t illegal. I ended up contacting a local ombudsman, detailing the situation and asking if it was legal. He publicized it – using the company’s name. The calls stopped soon afterwards.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch, I’m sorry that the one survey company was giving the whole business a bad name. I worked for a reputable survey company in the evenings when I was in college and also while I was looking for FT jobs after I graduated. I’m really happy we were allowed to take no for an answer. Most people, even when they didn’t want to participate, were at least polite about it. Our calls weren’t recorded, but we had supervisors who could listen in on calls without letting us know about it, but we could also press a button on our phone (this was in the mid to late 90s, so no autodial) to attract the attention of a supervisor. If things got really bad, the supervisor could join the call and ask if the person we called wanted to be put on the do not call list. We could also attract the attention of a supervisor if the caller wanted to be put on the do not call list even if they were polite, but we weren’t allowed to ask “do you want your number on the do not call list?” ourselves.

  21. Cake or Death?*

    I also work in construction and we mainly work on state and federal government contracts. We get a ridiculous amount of spam calls, with the majority of the spammers lying that they are with one of those government agencies. Sometimes they even use names of actual employees, though in my experience, they never use a name from someone who’s office their calling from (I.e. they’ll say they’re calling from the Detroit office of USACOE but the name they will use is an employee of the Oklahoma City office).
    What they don’t know is that they give themselves away as spammers immediately.
    1. They ask for the Owner of the company by first name only
    2. They don’t give their name and agency immediately
    3 when asked for their name, they’ll only give a first name, which then leads to me asking what their last name is
    4. When I ask where they are calling from, the say the main name of the vast agency, instead of their specific location. For example, they’ll say they’re calling from the VA, instead of the VA Cincinnati
    Now, I have never in any of my professional experience ever had a legitimate call from a person from a government agency that called asking for the owner by first name only and supplying no additional info. It always goes along the lines of “hi this is John Smith calling from the Va in Cincinnati, may I speak to Joe Blow, please” and when I say yes, may I ask what it’s regarding they’ll say “regarding such and such project”. Sometimes they say what’s it’s regarding immediately. And mostly they don’t even ASK for the owner of the company, because it’s the President who signs and handles all the contracts. So they ask for the President instead.
    I feel pretty comfortable assuming that the vast majority of people that have spent an amount of time working in a professional capacity, would never call asking for the owner just by first name. And ESPECIALLY when the person has a very common first name that means there’s a very likely chance there is more than one “John” at that office.
    It annoys me because I have to waste time extracting info from them just to end the call.
    Plus, the lying factor irritates me. It’s clear they have no idea how our work is even down, becaus they’ll often use the lie “oh, I just wanted to talk to him about doing some work here” which is TOTALLY not how we get work; it’s all through bids. It’s pretty much illegal for them to just give us work. It just irks me that I have to deal with them.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – the lying. I wrote above about the aggressive pest control company that keeps coming through the neighborhood I live in, with the your neighbor hired us, do you need service shtick. I know that’s folks are lying – they keep using the name of people I know moved- because I bought THEIR house.

    2. Self Employed*

      What? I am in the process of being qualified to bid on projects, and yeah, government agencies don’t just call and say they have some work for you. (I’m also getting spam from companies that want to charge me to do the same searches of open bids I could do myself for free. Or to teach me how to navigate the system. If they are polite, I say I am getting that for free from the PTAC in my region. Obviously if they are not polite, or they’re robocalling, I hang up.)

  22. lecturer*

    This is a very good result. I’m so glad the company worked with you to switch off the main telephone contact. I’m also glad it gave you the boost to simply hang up on people. I receive spam calls all the time. Some of them just change their number and carry on (I have no idea why they think it could result in anything after you’ve blocked them)!

  23. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, I’m reading the comments from the original post and I hope your next update involves an air horn!

  24. Mainah*

    I used to get a ton of spam/scam calls about printer toner cartridges. Once I realized what the scam was I’d tell the caller to hold on after they asked for the copier model number. Then I’d do something else for twenty minutes. If they were still on the line when I got back to them I’d say, “we’ve got the FU2 model” and hang up.

  25. Raida*

    I’m surprised the boss didn’t take the calls, get the company’s name they’re selling for, contact *them* directly about abuse and harassment of their staff/contractors.
    Could’ve gotten those cold-callers fired.

  26. SwingingAxeWolfie*

    I’m sorry you had to go through this, but have to say I get a really good vibe about your workplace. They took the issue very seriously and you all worked together thoroughly to implement a solution. Should be a given really but I am impressed.

  27. quill*

    I still recommend playing taps, loudly and badly, to anyone who wastes your time cold calling.

  28. Alaina*

    I worked at a company that had a UPS affiliate company do this. I would say hey they’re not in the office send your info to the email (catch all email we all had access too) and they would then say “*me* Agreed to x,y,&z.” In their email. When I would reply back saying I did not. They would then call repeatedly to cuss me out. I eventually contacted our UPS rep about this and sent them all the emails and a log of all the calls. They suddenly stopped calling.

  29. Not a Cat*

    I’m glad the situation got mostly resolved. I will say – your comment about unplugging the phone made me chuckle. I’m glad that was also an option and you got the support you needed from your higher ups!

  30. ArtsyGirl*

    This is insane, I would purchase an air horn or loud whistle and use it on aggressive spammers.

Comments are closed.