We've begun to call upon fellow employees who can offer a deeper insight into the world of VoIP and VoIP Innovations. We've split up our company into four categories and each week you'll get to hear from one of them. Those categories are Support, Porting, General (our engineers, President, etc.) and Marketing Communications. This week you'll be hearing from Randy Stegner, our Technical Services Manager, who will explore the mysteries behind harassing calls.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving home from work one day and your phone rings. Not recognizing the CallerID of the caller, you ignore the call. The next day, at the same time, you get a call from the same number and you again ignore the call. After several days of this, curiosity gets the best of you and you brave taking the call only to be told that you are overdue on a payday loan and that to avoid going to jail you must provide your credit card information. Of course, you are too savvy to dole out your private information so you tell the person that you have no such loan and if they call again you will be contacting the local authorities.
Depending on your personality, what happens next varies. Some people will chalk it up to an unpleasant experience and move on while others will become angry and want retribution. Who are these people? How did they get my number? This is wrong! What should I do? Many people will hightail it home and immediately log on to their computer, pull up Google and search the number. When they are returned with hundreds of hits of people complaining of harassing calls, they know they are not alone in this scenario. They click on one of the links and read things like: “This person won’t stop calling me!”, or “This number keeps calling me and I’ve never had a payday loan!”, or “How can I make this stop! This is driving me crazy!”
Moreover, after continuous scrolling and reading seemingly endless complaints, some may want to take action. They dig further and find the number belongs to a company called Level 3. Negative feelings towards this company begin festering as the person envisions dishing out the deserved scolding. How dare they do this to me! Who are these people? So they go further and look up contact numbers for this terrible company. After obtaining a contact number for the company they prepare to place “the call” transforming their frustration into words that will get the message across. When “the call” is answered, pent up frustration explodes at the person at the other end. After a minute or two listening to the choice words being spewed, something unexpected happens…
The Level 3 rep (or whoever the carrier happens to be) politely interrupts the caller to explain that no one at their company is responsible for these calls. In fact, Level 3 and companies like them are reputable companies providing many services such as VoIP. They further explain that they resell the service to other companies (also reputable) and these companies may resell to other companies before finally selling to an end user who is likely making the harassing calls. Furthermore, they may give a contact number to the first reseller in the chain and advise that the caller place a call to them. And so it is now up to the person who initially received this call to determine how far they want to chase this situation to satisfy their frustration over the harassment.
The hard fact of this scenario is that it can be extremely difficult to track down the person making harassing calls. It is reasonable to assume if one is uninformed regarding telecommunications that the person or company listed as the owner of the number is responsible for calls from that number, but this is not accurate. VoIP services including the CallerID tied to a telephone number can be sold and resold many times before it reaches the end user responsible for making the calls. It is also possible to “spoof” a CallerID using VoIP services, compounding the situation further. Even if you were able to track down the end user making the calls they may not even be authorized to use the number as their outgoing CallerID.
So what can you do if you are a victim of this type of harassment? Are you helpless? Thankfully, the answer is no, you aren’t helpless. There are definitely steps you can take if you have been victimized but you must understand it can be a slow process and will involve law enforcement. It is important to first understand a little more about how CallerID works and rules and expectations regarding its use. We will cover that in part two of this article as well as what you can do if you are receiving unwanted calls. Stay tuned.