Can’t we stop telemarketers?

Congress just passed a law that will beef up penalties on robocallers and gives voice service providers 18 months to adopt call authentication technologies to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

Is there anything more annoying than Robocalls?

This week, Congress passed S. 151. The “Traced Act” beefs up penalties on robocallers who intentionally violate rules against calling us, improves federal agencies’ coordination of efforts to protect vulnerable customers, and also increases civil forfeiture penalties.

If signed into law by the president, voice service providers will have 18 months to adopt call authentication technologies that enable a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

I don’t say this very often but... Well done, Congress!

These aggressive pests call at all hours, often using deceptive technology mimicking local phone numbers so you feel some urgency to answer because it could be a legit call to let you know that someone you love is bleeding to death in a ditch. But then you realize it is a recording and want to punch someone in the face. Hard.

Another bothersome telemarketing tactic is warning business owners that their “Google My Business” listing is in imminent risk of being removed. They’d call the marketing agency where I used to work. The person on the other side of the line abruptly ended the call once I shared that my job was managing those free Google listings for clients. It’s a totally random sales pitch, you see, relying on the person who answers not knowing any better.

Such scare tactics are a nuisance, and I imagine pushy scam artists armed with scripts to overcome objections terrifying someone less savvy into surrendering their information, posing as debt collectors or other tricks.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling a lil bit sadistic, I’ll see how long I can keep the telemarketer tied up on the line with nonsense before they get frustrated and hang up on me!

You’re welcome…

Sometimes these robocalls announce that you have the option of requesting no further solicitations, but that only seems to give them verification the number belongs to someone who actually answers their phone.


Speaking of telephones, I’m reacquainting myself with calling people and having voice conversations, as opposed to typing text messages or emails. I prefer the written word to the spoken one because it usually means saying what you’ve got to say without having to decipher inflection and body language to grasp that which goes unsaid. Plus, if you don’t write it down properly and get something wrong, awkward...

I’m curious how this reluctance to use our phones to speak affects the accuracy of political polling calls. Do they only get responses from people who answer a landline?

I read this week that millennials aren’t using email as often as their parents. Personally, I like email newsletters. But I’m kinda weird.

Sure, my eyes glaze over when I skim past the 80K+ unread emails in my personal inbox, but I like how powerful it feels to unsubscribe at will and delete 700 highlighted unread emails all at once... when I actually get around to doing it.

Text messages are nifty when I need to communicate but really don’t want to get into a full-fledged face-to-face thing. There are days – and people – I just don’t care to engage.

Texts can become burdensome when they transition to full-fledged conversations that would be a lot easier if you just phoned, for crying out loud. I can type on my keyboard in front of my PC a lot faster than I can text with thumbs on my phone.

The worst – THE WORST – is getting bundled into a group text message that goes on and on with your phone blowing up every few seconds with notifications that people have “left the conversation.”

I understand the expediency factor in sending out a group text, but convenience is really outweighed by sheer obnoxiousness.

In one club, board members insist on communicating by group text because they prefer the immediacy of responses vs waiting for the recipient to check his or her email twice a day. My phone vibrated and dinged to notify me of conversations having nothing to do with me, often late at night. I finally requested they leave me out of the group texts or I’d leave the group.

“But how will we get in touch with you if there’s an emergency?” they asked.

“By not texting me unless it IS an emergency,” I said.

— Steven Stiefel is a staff writer at the Times-Journal. Email:

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