I get several calls per day from telemarketers — sometimes referred to as “robocallers” — trying to sell something.

These companies (and their hired guns) have apparently figured out how to make it appear that the calls are coming from a “573” area code. To make it worse, they occasionally use actual phone numbers. Some entity called “Member Services” is the worst of the worst, offering to reduce interest charges on credit cards to zero.

On my landline (and my cellphone), I have caller ID. But the telemarketers are clever, so when the caller ID identifies the number, I answer, and lo and behold, it is not what I expected at all but “Member Services.” If interested in what they have to offer, they kindly advise to “Press 1.”

I have done that, but when someone answers, I cuss them out loudly in Spanish. I can’t, because this is a family newspaper, relate the language used. Suffice it to say that the Spanish I use normally has something to do with physical relationships — all types and some which are impossible to achieve.

This, of course, does not at all deter the caller. Once I begin my Spanish diatribe, the next thing I hear is a dial tone. Cursing in Spanish doesn’t prevent future calls, but it makes me feel better.

Quite often, I am informed that this is “your final notice.” Would that it were true, but I have received this notice at lease 10 times.

My landline and cellphone are on the state and federal Do Not Call list, but that makes little difference.

At first, I reported the telemarketer call but was informed by the FCC that its hands were tied. The offenders keep changing their numbers, and by the time the FCC begins to investigate, the offending company has adopted another number.

{span style=”font-size: 12px;”}I still do not understand how it is that the caller can pretend to be someone else, but seemingly it is a simple process. When I have called back the number the telemarketer used, either I get a recorded voice telling me the number does not exist or I reach some innocent and confused person who informs me that they have never called my number.{/span}

Fortunately, telephone companies and the U.S. Congress are concerned about this and are working on a solution. The solution seems to be more enforcement of the crime of using someone else’s number.

But given the glacial pace of Congress (I am not at all sure what telephone companies can do), it could be several years before anything is done. In the meantime, I will continue to cuss out the telemarketers in Spanish.

Ken Midkiff, formerly the director of the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign, is now chair of the city’s Environment and Energy Commission and serves on the board of directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.

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