Monday, January 12, 2015

Phone Number Pollution ...

[Note: If you're one of my Patreon supporters, you saw this post yesterday; if you're not, you didn't -- KN@PPSTER]

Is it worse now than it used to be?

A few months ago, I bought a new cell phone. I'd gone without one for a year or so (I dislike phones as communications devices in general and a land line seemed like the most I needed), but once I started bicycling a lot it made sense to have one for emergencies, quick comms from the road, etc.

The calls and texts started almost immediately.

Text spam and telemarketing calls, of course (I don't like government programs of any type, but I did go ahead and register my number with the Federal Trade Commission's "do not call" list), but also personal texts presumably intended for a previous owner of my number that required replies along the lines of "I'm not who you think I am" (a couple of the incoming texts seemed to be of an amorous nature; I refrained from playing along).

And then there were the legal/debt collections calls, for no fewer than three different individuals who apparently had the number before I did. Those seem to have wrapped up now, following some conversations ranging from "cordial" to "pretty nasty" (see my brief tutorial on phone etiquette for collection agencies, from way back in 2005).

Since I use the phone only for emergency calls or for quick calls from the road ("I'll be home in about half an hour, do I need to pick up anything at the store as I bike by?"), I go with the absolute bare minimum plan. I use a cheap Tracfone flip phone with "lifetime double minutes," so I spend $20 every 90 days and get 120 minutes.

All of this stuff really eats up my cell phone minutes. Half a minute per text received, plus however much time is consumed taking voice calls or checking voice messages. I'm buying 120 minutes every three months, and So far I've been using about half those minutes on calls and texts that aren't for me (fortunately my REAL calls/texts generally run along the lines of 5-10 minutes per month).

It doesn't feel like it used to be this way. Not on land lines, not on previous cell phones. I'm not saying I never got telemarketing calls or "so and so's old number that he had when he maxed out his Visa and then stopped paying" calls. But they used to be rare. And I still get occasional calls for a previous holder of my land line number too, even though I've had that number for two years.

Are numbers getting recycled at a much faster rate these days?

Are people with debt/credit problems intentionally and specifically using pay-as-you-go cell phone plans so that they can ditch their numbers when the bill collectors start calling (and leave others with the annoyance)?

What's your experience in this area?

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