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Is this really you?  No, I’m AI

I violated my own telephone protocol and almost fell for a spammer.

My normal policy is to let all telephone calls go to voicemail.  If the message is important, I’ll reply at a convenient time.  If the caller isn’t anyone I know or doesn’t want to leave a message, then I didn’t waste time.

But last week I answered a Des Moines telephone number.  We know folks in Des Moines so I answered. A very nice sounding woman claimed she was calling from Verizon.  She said there had been some suspected unauthorized activity with my phone.  Had I made a purchase recently?

I assured her that I never have and never will make any purchase with my cellphone.  Nevertheless, she said, she wanted my permission to investigate the suspected fraudulent activity further.  So she tried to send me a text with a link that would give her permission to check.  I told her I didn’t get it.  She tried again.  Nope, no text.

I asked her to send it to my email.  When that didn’t show up, I told her something is wrong here.  I hung up, called Verizon directly, spoke with the fraud department.  Sure enough.  It was a scam.  There had been no suspected activity on my phone.

The increasing sophisticated technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes us more vulnerable than ever to malevolent folks out to steal our identity and cash in.

It’s going to get even worse.  Now AI can imitate our voices and carry on a simple conversation that sounds absolutely real and can fool even our friends and family.

So I’m returning to my original practice of never answering any phone call; they will all go to voice mail.  If I slip and do answer the call and it’s from a friend or family member, I’ll politely day, “I’m sorry but I’m the middle of something, let me call you back.”

I’ll hang up, wait at least 30 seconds, then use my keypad to call back and confirm that the call was from them not a robot.

This seems paranoid I concede.  But in this day of sophisticated technology and bad people, it’s better to be suspicious than to be fooled.

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