Annie Lane: Being kind shouldn’t cost you

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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Dear Annie: Please help me convince my 72-year-old husband to stop engaging in conversations with telephone solicitors. He gets several calls a day on his cellphone from car warranty companies, solar companies, etc., and he insists on letting them talk and ask questions for several minutes.

Eventually, he says something like, “Thank you for caring about me, I appreciate your call,” before ending the call. The problem is that he answers questions and says “YES” on these calls. I have let him know that unscrupulous phone solicitors can sometimes use his answers to effect a scam on him. Please help!

— My Husband Is Being Taken Advantage Of

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Dear MHIBTAO: Your husband sounds like a kind man who is genuinely interested in others. However, his kindness shouldn’t be used against him. And, unfortunately, that happens far too often with phone and online scams. There are now protections consumers can put in place to stop the countless robocalls. Millions rejoiced when the Federal Trade Commission created the National Do Not Call Registry. Adding your name to the list makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you.

Most major phone carriers give you tools to identify, filter and prevent suspected robocall numbers from dialing or texting your phone. Some require an extra monthly fee to activate these services, but network-level blocking is free of charge across all the carriers.

Here’s another feature available on any iPhone and Android — the ability to block specific numbers. Although this cannot possibly stop every robocall and spammer number, you can at least block recurring ones.

But be advised: If you answer the phone and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify and target live respondents. Once they know the number is active, you may be targeted by more calls in the future.

Knowledge is power, and now that you know some tricks to help stop the calls from coming in, you can help your husband not be the victim of a scam.

• • •

Dear Annie: In your response to the three workers who are tired of their boss taking coffee, I would like to offer some advice as well.

Being a manager at a company myself, these “employees” who feel the need to snub their boss might look at things from his point of view.

He is still keeping three people on payroll during a pandemic when most Americans cannot afford the essentials, and these three are worried about their coffee.

Perhaps if they offer to help pay the electric bill, the heating bill or the trash, water and janitorial bills, he would be inclined to pitch in for the coffee.

— Management in Colorado

Dear Management in Colorado: Your letter is a bit harsh, but I’m printing it because I always love getting multiple viewpoints.

Remember, the employees were not asking the boss to buy their coffee. They were upset because they brought their own coffee, and he was helping himself to it. Would you think the boss has a right to eat their lunch, too, because he is paying the utility bills?

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