Doug Behl and Ken Getz: Finally — a solution to spam mobile phone calls
April 30, 2017
Q. I seem to be getting an increasing number of spam calls on my mobile phone. It's not like I pay for each call, so it's not the cost that matters, it's the intrusion on my privacy and the energy wasted in dealing with the calls. Is there any sane way to block these calls?
A. We've certainly discussed this issue previously here, but there is new news in this area. The simplest solution is to not answer any call with blocked caller ID, or caller ID that you don't recognize. If you don't know them, they can leave voicemail, right? The problem is that this solution won't work for everyone — some folks can't simply disregard calls, as they might be important personal or business calls.
We've mentioned it before, but if you have a modern version of Android or iOS, you can install the Hiya app. This free application maintains a database of fraudulent numbers, and alerts you when a call from one comes in. It's not a perfect solution, but it's free and it works most of the time. There are better solutions, but they cost money: For example, the Nomorobo app, currently available only for iOS, costs $1.99 per month. This app does a better job than Hiya, we've been told, and may be worth the monthly cost if you're getting too many irritating spam calls.
If you're a T-Mobile customer, you're in luck! (We know that not many readers are T-Mobile customers, as T-Mobile has little presence in Nevada County. Ken uses their service, and is quite happy with the price and features they offer.) Starting in April 2017, T-Mobile is offering free spam call ID and blocking. The call ID feature pops up an alert when you get a call from a known spammer; the call block feature totally blocks those calls, so you never even know you got them. You do need to manually enable the feature, so if you're using T-Mobile (or MetroPCS, their cheaper brand), you can dial #664# to enable Scam ID, #662# to enable Scam Block, #632# to disable Scam Block, and #787# to check Scam Block enabled status. These are solid, useful features, and we're glad that at least one carrier is providing them—maybe they'll shame the other three big US carriers into including similar functionality!
DELETE A FACEBOOK POST
Q. Last week, I posted on Facebook and then a few days later, realized that I really shouldn't have posted the information. I couldn't find a way to delete the posting, and now I'm in trouble. Did I miss something obvious? Can you, in fact, delete a Facebook posting?
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A. We are not fans of Facebook (old guys, as a rule, don't "get" social media) but we can see your concern! It was a big darned deal with Ken's niece announced she was pregnant on Facebook, before telling her parents! Yikes. That was ugly!
What we learned there is that there is such a thing as "too much sharing," and yes, you can (and often should) delete Facebook posts. The answer is really quite simple, and it's consistent across all Facebook platforms. If you locate an post you've made, click the down-arrow in the upper-right corner of the message. From the drop-down menu that appears, select the Delete option. Once you do that, your post will be deleted from your Timeline and from any of your friends' feeds. If your friends shared your post, it will no longer be available online. There's nothing you can if people copied/pasted your post, however. Good luck with that!
We're wondering if it's time for Ms. Online Manners to have a word about what's appropriate to be posted on Facebook (or other public media). There's no guide for what's acceptable or even reasonable, so we'll stay out of it. Think twice, however, about posting life-altering events (marriages, pregnancies, and so on) without telling your immediate family IRL (in real life) first. They'll appreciate the notice.
Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Submit your own technical questions to email@example.com.