On Robocalls, Spammers…and Truth

I remember when we moved to cell phones from land lines, we were excited that it would be the end of all those unwanted telemarketing calls. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. I don’t know about you, but I have been inundated with robocalls from telemarketers of late. I would say I am averaging about four or five calls a day, from dozens of different states and a few foreign countries, plus those that are masking their own numbers to use local numbers to call me.
This is the latest trick of their trade, which is called “neighbor spoofing.” Spammers use a third-party call spoofing technology to call your phone with a number that appears to be from your same area, using the same 3-digit exchange of your own phone number. In fact, the number that shows up on your caller ID is someone’s real number, and they never even know it is being used to make telemarketing calls. Which also means that they are using your number and my number to call others as well. I have had a few people call me back, saying they missed a call from my number, which I never made.
I don’t even know what they are selling, since I rarely pick up on numbers I don’t recognize, and if I do I only listen for a half second before I hear the robocall begin its spiel. I immediately add them to my “block this number” list, but it doesn’t seem to be cutting down on all the telemarketing spam.


I wonder if robocalls have ever worked. I mean, has anyone ever stayed on the line, responded to the call, and purchased what they are selling? Even once? I know it’s a numbers game, and those robots can literally make thoursands of calls an hour for very little cost, but who would ever buy something from a robocaller?


There has been one positive development from my carrier the past few months. For certain unfamiliar numbers that call, my caller ID identifies the caller as “Spam Likely.” I’m not sure how it identifies the spammers, but I appreciate the effort. I just wish there was a way for them to screen the call from even being able to get through.


It got me to thinking that it would be nice if we had someone screening all the unwanted sales pitches, illegitimate news stories, and even “urban legend” social media posts so that we could avoid them altogether. In our post-modern world that some have described as “post-fact,” wouldn’t it be nice if someone could help us avoid all the fake news and untruths we are bombarded with every day? Maybe they could come with a warning that says, “Lies Likely.”


I remember an old Amy Grant song from the early days of contemporary Christian music in the 1980’s. The chorus said, “You gotta know who to, and not to, listen to. They’re gonna hit you from all sides, better make up your minds, who to, and not to, listen to.”


That simple warning still rings true. I am grateful that in a world where it’s hard to know who you can trust, we have a faithful and trustworthy God who never tries to sell us something we don’t need, and does not lie. In fact, He cannot lie; it is against His very nature. Which means you can always count on what He says, because it is always true. What other motivation do we need to daily choose to feed our minds on the one trustworthy source of truth, the Word of God? He will use it to transform our lives (Rom. 12:2) if we will only let Him.