Many people take the landline for granted. The Landline is a great invention and is an even better form of communication than your cell-phone, however both forms of communication, be it landline of cellular, have their flaws. The issue with the landline is that even though it does not have as many of the flaws as the cellular phone does, that it too leaks your information more often than not.
You also have predators who wish to prey upon your information for their own nefarious means, Telemarketers are what I am trying to describe to you. You see, that moment you blindly pickup your phone or ignore the caller-ID is the moment your information begins to be collected and sold. Answering your phone tells the caller that there is someone at the number, and it also tells them that you are stupid enough to pick up the phone when you do not know the person on the other end. They will ask simple questions that you are used to answering on a daily basis, a psychological war being waged upon your psyche without your knowledge.
Think of this scenario
You are sitting down, possibly to eat, watching something on television or just to relax. The phone rings and you instinctively react by picking up. It could be instantaneous or take the width of two breaths, but they assault you off the bat “Hi! Is this (sic)?”... You answer with your name.
Your phone number and name, even if private, have been connected to one another. They have already begun their assault on your privacy. Your information is now being collected, put onto lists and being sold all over the planet. You are now being badgered with scam callers, telemarketers, political calls… possibly even ending up with a profile on several hundred websites. And its all because you answered your phone without thinking.
The "Do Not Call" listings ran by the US Government. Simply go here to their website @ https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx You can enter both your home and cell numbers. And if you want to take the extra step, you can also call them at (888) 382-1222 on your cell just to double-up and make sure your numbers are registered. By doing this, you are simply stating that you do not wish to participate in a plethora of various listings or calls or what have you and want to be left alone. This does not block all listings, mind you, but does help remove you from quite a few. Remember: This DNC is an opt-in database. Not only do you have to opt into it, so do the businesses and other organizations who would even dare glance at it to ensure your number is not on there.
Ditch your personalized answering machine or voicemail message. Remove it all. NOW! Use the default robotic voice or beep. Just never make a personalized message, ever. Why? Because, in doing so, you provide them with proof that someone is there and, just like answering it yourself, they can collect information like name and gender all based upon your voice and message left.
Dump your old phone number, if possible, and get yourself a brand spanking new unlisted number! Yes, that is right: AN UNLISTED NUMBER! It does not appear in phone books, it will not appear to too many people. And, to keep it that way, buy yourself a simple little burner phone. Nothing fancy or expensive—a “Pay As You Go” plan with some cheap little 90s type setup. Give out your burner cells number to doctors, employers, contests, raffles and membership card fill-out forms.
REMEMBER: This will only work for up to 5 years. You will have to re-enter your information every so often due to this. And, if you have safeguarded your home phone and personal cell (not the burner), besides not making a custom voicemail message, you should, generally, be fine. The DNC list just has to be done once every 5 years, as stated above, but the listing does not apply to pollsters, politician, and non-profit groups. If you receive a call from these people, and they are not simply bot calls, demand your number to be removed from their lists and registries. Do this with any unwarranted or unwanted calls. And, seriously, use your Call-ID. Do not pickup blocked numbers or unfamiliar numbers. If its important, they should leave a message.
If you are being targeted by a person or persons, or a debt collector, ex-spouse, abusive person...etc, then ensure your safety first and foremost. Once you have made sure you are safe, try to identify the threat. If you can not figure out who it is, block the numbers if possible. Keep a log and track the time, dates, and numbers that they have called from.
Before you continue reading, ask yourself if its harassment:
According to the United States Code Title 18, subsection 1514(c)1, harassment is defined as "a course of conduct directed at a specific that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person and serves no legitimate purpose".
The Modern Penal Code section defines harassment as a petty misdemeanor if the purpose is to harass another, they must:
Now, if you are being harassed, you must take the proper steps to ensure any investigation into such matters goes smoothly. This means you tell the truth, never lie, and actively try to close the lines of communication by stating you do not wish for them to contact you anymore and to not call your house. You also must block their number, for after all of this, if they continue, its clear-cut harassment. Remember: Always note the date, time and number of the call!
Only contact your local authorities if they keep harassing you after you have stated you do not wish for them to contact you, and also ensure you have blocked their number too. Only after stating you do not wish to talk to them, that they stop contacting you and that you have blocked their number… then you contact the police. After contacting the authorities, contact your phone company. Ask them if they have a record of the call or can trace the call for you, or at least gain the number used if it was a blocked or private number.
Remember and document as much as you can. Try to record it, if possible.
If you did not or can not record it:
Remember: By current law, debt collectors can not repeatedly with intent to annoy or threaten you. If they are threatening you or calling you repeatedly, simply record and keep track of their calls. They can not use abusive language, slurs, profanities, obscenities or anything that ends up under the same category as calling you a deadbeat, liar, slut…etc. If they use anything abusive or in a harassing manner, like racist or sexist language, you have even more right to demand that they do not call you. You can not negate the debt this way; however it does prevent them from harassing you and anyone else. You can also report these people (businesses, debt-collectors…etc) to the FTC for harassment and incorrect business practices. However, not all calls will be seen as harassment or against the law. This means you will have to work toward actively removing and opting-out of databases that sell and solicit your information.
If you are still having trouble with your phone, do a search on any large search engine, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex. From there, work toward opting out of as many sites as possible that list your phone number. Please look toward our library for the Master Opt-Out list to help expedite this task.
Be aware, though, that every time you sign up for a new service or with a company, they may just sell your information. They will sell to 3rd parties or political groups for any number of reasons, one of which is profit. This includes non-phone companies that you may fill a profile out with, or even your social networking account. Always ensure you search for the privacy policies before committing yourself to any contracts or agreements. You should also actively search for the “opt-out” box or clause in everything you sign from any company or group.
Each additional offer or service you add or purchase, from the same company or a new one, may include another “opt-out” clause or box, which if not checked, could over rule the first box or clause you did check or activate. Remember: You have the absolute right to "opt-out" of any number of companies selling your information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act. You have the absolute right to have your phone number(s) listed or unlisted in any number of public directories.
In the end, besides simple OPSEC and compartmentalization, there is not much that can be done concerning your phone. Simply ensuring you do the above and even going as far as to treat each conversation as if a 3rd party is listening in, you should be able to keep most invasions of privacy at bay. If you want to go the extra step, you could look into anti-tap measures to ensure some nefarious means of spying are prevented. You also should remember that wireless handsets can lead to “crossed lines” and someone potentially being able to listen in on your conversation.