Government / Politics

OPINION: No one answers the phone anymore – with good reason

Enforcement of consumer communication protection laws remains a low priority for government

I recently had to make a series of phone calls and ended up leaving a bunch of messages because almost no one answers the phone anymore and most have voice recorders. Naturally, my message was to call me back and leave a message on my own answering machine because we don’t answer the phone either.

This is because picking up a ringing telephone is more likely to connect you to some illegal domestic or foreign boiler-room, scam charity, or robo-call than anyone you actually know. Almost all those calls violate federal laws which are widely ignored because enforcement ranges from sparse to non-existent. 

It came to my mind that the situation produces many millions of extra calls; that’s not as bad as email spam, but it’s pretty bad.

As recently pointed out, 80 percent of traditional U.S. landline phone customers have disappeared in some areas, replaced by cell phones, internet devices or a combination of the two. The modern communication model comes from developing nations that, essentially, skipped the landline phase. Decades ago, I was told there was not enough copper in the world to wire China with the kind of phone system the U.S. had in the 1950s.

One thing is sure, the con artists and crooks are not going out of business, they are moving their operations to attack cell- and Internet-phones as fast as they can. The question is will the government treat these emerging threats with the same neglect they did for landlines or will they finally get serious and do something about it?

Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.