We've been over served

Published January 27, 2022

By Tom Campbell

Who knew I had so many friends worried about my car’s warranty? Before Christmas it felt like a horde calling to warn me. If this has happened to you, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that these warranty calls have dried up. The bad news is that now they are worried about my medical condition and call to sell me healthcare insurance or some product that will cure everything from the heartbreak of psoriasis to male pattern baldness.
A little history. In 1983, Motorola introduced the first truly mobile phone. Can you remember those bag phones, so bulky you almost needed a suitcase? It had an antenna protruding from it, making it even more cumbersome, along with a $4,000 price tag. Quickly it became the status symbol for really, truly important people… or those just wanting to impress.
The cellular revolution was on. In 1990 the number of mobile phone users was estimated to be 11 million. Today it’s 358 million, 97 percent of adults in the US. Nobody can explain why there are more phones than people or identify the three percent who don’t have one.
In 2003, RIM introduced the Blackberry, featuring not only a phone but a camera AND, for the first time, emails. You had to use a number 2 lead pencil to punch the buttons. Then, in 2007, our lives were changed forever when Apple introduced the first smartphone, the iPhone, that could do almost everything but take out the garbage. And when parents bring a newborn home from the hospital there must be a requirement that a smartphone is included along with the pack of diapers and formula. We spend an average of 5.4 hours per day on screen. 13 percent of millennials spend over 12 hours daily on their phones.
Where there is supply there will be a demand to sell you something. Mobile commerce is an estimated $2.9 trillion a year business. Some legitimate enterprises call, but a larger number are scam artists with messages such as the IRS is about to come haul off your stuff, to your nephew is in jail and needs bail money. Or my personal favorite, I’ve been accepted into some program sure to make me handsome or able to play the piano.
Forget about calling the National Do Not Call Registry to list your number. It’s as useless as kissing your sister. I believe the scammers have invaded their site and use it for prospecting.
There is a special place in the netherworld for hackers, a place so dark they have to mail in sunshine. Somebody has hacked into my wife’s healthcare providers. We knew that when the spam started - and we’re not talking about the stuff that comes in tin cans. On Tuesday she got 19 calls, coming about 30 minutes apart, before she finally just turned off her phone. They originate from garden spots like Derby, Connecticut; Keenesburg, Colorado; Evergreen, Alabama; Beatrice, Nebraska; Miles City, Montana; Payson, Arizona; Altoona, Pennsylvania and New Iberia, Louisana. We could start a geography game. Where in the world is….?
Our cell phone provider says there’s nothing they can do, but they do show “potential spam” in many instances. Calling the North Carolina Attorney General’s consumer protection service is another waste of time. All they can tell you is don’t answer calls from folks you don’t know. Thanks a lot!
The message here is to be extra careful with whom you share your phone number, email address, date of birth or other personal information.