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Things that should be ignored

April 24, 2013

By now everyone should be aware of "phishing" emails. These are the ones which look like they come from a bank or PayPal or Amazon or some other business and ask you to click on a link to verify details or to get more information. We all know to ignore these and never click on the links.

What would you do if you received an email to your business coming from an obvious false email address asking you to reply with personal or business details? You would ignore it just as you ignore the phishing emails apparently from Westpac or PayPal asking you to enter your account details and password.

If you take all this care with emails (and even physical mail), why would you ever answer a telephone call when the caller hides who they are? If you answer a call with Caller ID blocked and the person on the other end says they come from a bank, why would you give them identifying information without verifying who they are? Telephone and mobile numbers are easy to get, so it is very easy for someone to ring you and ask for you by name. If they then ask you to give information such as date of birth or mother's maiden name to identify yourself you should think twice and hang up, after asking them for a real phone number that you can call back on.

Someone from a bank once told me that they block Caller ID because if they displayed the bank's phone number then people would not answer. I asked how this was different from people not answering anonymous calls and got no sensible reply.

I no longer answer calls with Caller ID blocked. The "I'm not here" message people hear when I don't answer my mobile phone tells them this. I pay money to Telstra each month to have Caller ID displayed on my home phone so I can let callers showing "Private Number" ring out without being answered. Yes there are some legitimate reasons for blocking caller identification. I have friends and relatives who work in law enforcement, for example, and there are good reasons why they might need to have silent numbers or protect where they are calling from, but they know how to get in touch with me if they really need to.

I recommend this policy to everyone. Don't ever answer anonymous telephone calls, and if you accidentally do, do not provide the person on the other end with any information that they don't already have. I've distributed a lot of business cards over the years but none of them have on them the sort of information I've been asked to provide to people who just happen to say they work for some organisation I might have done business with. And there is a reason that the date of birth in my Facebook profile is incorrect.

Update.

I now have an app on my phone that causes it to ignore calls without Caller ID. It can also be used to block specific numbers, both for calls and text. Highly recommended.

Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vladlee.easyblacklist

As I don't have an iPhone I can't tell if this one blocks anonymous calls as well as specified numbers, but it would seem to be useless without that feature. Unfortunately you have to pay to test it.
http://download.cnet.com/Blacklist-for-iPhone-Unwanted-Call-Blocker/3000-2094_4-75632225.html


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