Chinese Robocalls Indignantly Revisited

Recently I wrote this post about my frustrations about not only getting robocalls on my phone, but getting them in Mandarin, a language I do not speak. Beyond irritating. After that post, though, a friend sent me this article from NPR that addresses these calls specifically.

Whereas I was irritated before, now I’m outraged. Nothing has changed for me personally. I’m still getting the stupid calls. I’m still blocking them. But now I know the heinous purpose behind those calls, and it has triggered my Capricornian desire to protect others from all things unjust in this world.

These Chinese scammers are not simply trying to sell me something. No. They’re hoping I’m a Chinese immigrant who is understandably nervous about the human rights violations that China is so well known for. These robocalls tell them that this call is from their embassy, and that they’re suspected of committing some crime or other, and that the way to resolve this issue is by sending money to this bank in Hong Kong.

It’s amazing that people still fall for this stuff in this day and age, but imagine what it must be like for these immigrants, who most likely still have family back in China. They don’t want trouble for anyone. According to this article, immigrants have paid out at least 2.5 million dollars since December.

That’s a highly lucrative scam, so rest assured, it’s not going to go away any time soon. It breaks my heart that so many people who have struggled to come to America are now losing their life savings in an effort to stay here. Con artists tend to prey on the most vulnerable among us.

I really don’t understand psychopaths. They are completely devoid of empathy, so do they have any problem at all looking in the mirror after devastating others? Nope. They’re just fine. It makes me sick. (If you are one of these people and you’re reading this, you are twisted and evil and I hope that karma rolls over you like a crosstown bus.)

All I can do is shake my head and do my best to spread the word. I hope you will, too. Meanwhile, here are some things you should do to avoid scammers in general.

  • If you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t answer your phone. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

  • If you do answer the phone and hear an automated voice, hang up immediately. If a company or individual really needs to speak to you, they won’t use a recording. If they do, whatever they have to say isn’t that important.

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, especially your bank account number, your credit card number, or your social security number.

  • I have just downloaded an app to my phone called YouMail. It’s free, unless you upgrade for even more awesome features. It blocks many robocalls, and will even make them think your number is out of service so they don’t sell it on to the next scammer. It also provides you with personalized voice mail, auto-reply when you’re out of town or unavailable, conference calling, and reverse phone lookup. All for free. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. If it turns out to not work, I’ll be sure and let you know right here.

I hope you’ll all take a moment to have a conversation about scammers with the more vulnerable among us: the less tech-savvy, the very old, the very young, or the easily manipulated. This evil must end.

Robocalls

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Travel Restrictions

Travel is my reason for being. Due to finances, I haven’t been able to leave the country in several years, but I have been to 19 other countries, and these experiences have been the high points in my life.

I strongly encourage everyone to travel. It’s the only way you can truly have an open mind. It’s the only way you’ll learn that “our” way isn’t the only way and in fact it may not even be the best way. Until everyone truly understands that concept, there is no chance for any type of peace on earth.

Having said that, as people become more financially desperate, the world is becoming an increasingly scary place, with kidnappings, incarcerations and crime on the rise. And Americans are becoming, if anything, more hated by segments of the international community.

Does that mean we should stop travelling altogether? On the contrary. Now, more than ever, we need to eschew isolation and make more of an effort to be part of the global community. Not only to spread our wealth around a bit, but also to foster as much good will as we can.

But it is very important to travel intelligently. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that it might be a good idea to avoid war zones. But it’s also important to understand the human rights philosophy of the government in question. When making travel plans, my first stop is always the State Department website, where you can read up to date reports on travel advisability and news for each country. Many countries are safe to travel in, but contain regions to avoid, and this is always good information to have. And if you fall into a particular minority group, you may want to extend your research even further afield.

As sad as it makes me to say this, I know that there are certain countries which I realistically will never visit. North Korea, for example. But also, as an outspoken woman who refuses to be treated as a second class citizen, I don’t see myself ever visiting Saudi Arabia, either. While I’m willing to respect customs related to clothing, no one will ever tell me I can’t drive. Full stop. Sadly, as a woman traveling alone, there are many parts of the world I should think twice about visiting.

My nephew has reached an age where he’s looking forward to exploring the planet, and I’m thrilled for him. I remember what that’s like, that feeling that you have endless possibilities for adventure. I love him to pieces, so it nearly killed me to have to ever-so-slightly rain on his parade.

He was talking about going to Egypt, and that’s someplace that I’ve always wanted to see myself. But I had to tell him that as the laws stand in that country at the present time, he can be incarcerated simply for being gay. He told me he didn’t plan on doing “gay things” while there, and while, yes, that would greatly reduce his risk, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely, and this is a young man who, try as he might, would not be able to “fake it”. Unfortunately there are many countries in the world that would pose a risk for him. That breaks my heart, but it’s a fact.

Americans seem to be under the impression that they have some sort of immunity when traveling abroad. They think that if arrested, they will simply be able to call their embassy and be set free. Au contraire. All the embassy can or will do for you in the vast majority of cases is make sure your relatives are notified, deliver your mail, and give you the occasional red cross package. So the best thing to do is be aware of the laws of the country in which you travel, and strictly adhere to them. I’ve never found that to be particularly hard, but apparently some people do. If you plan to go somewhere with several kilos of cocaine taped to your inner thigh, well then, you deserve what you get.

So travel, yes, but do your homework first. Knowledge is power. Bon voyage.

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[Image credit: outlookmaps.com]