GET GEPHARDT

Get Gephardt: How important calls mistakenly blocked or flagged as spam are costing Utahns

Oct 21, 2022, 6:40 AM | Updated: 6:41 am

SANDY, Utah — Spam phone calls can be both aggravating and fraudulent. Many of us won’t pick up calls from phone numbers we don’t recognize just because of the sheer volume of spam we get every day. But some of those calls might be important.

Zach Robinson’s credit score is pretty good, but it could be better. In fact, it was better just a couple of months ago before it was dinged over a $50 bill he said he simply forgot.

“The bill from the credit card company was routed to my spam folder,” Robinson said.

Now, if you’ve ever had a debt collector looking for you, you know they can be tenacious. And indeed, Robinson’s debt collector was trying to reach him by phone, but…

“It kept coming up as spam on my phone,” said Robinson. “They tried to call probably for two months.”

Robinson said he continued to screen the calls until one day he accidentally answered.

“And it was the company and they said, ‘You’re three months past due!’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Robinson paid the bill on the spot. Then he called me in the hope others might learn from his goof.

“I hope people understand that if they’re getting continued spam calls, it might not be a bad idea to pick up one every now and again,” he said.

Actually, screening the calls was the right idea, according to the Federal Communications Commission. According to its website, Americans receive about 4 billion spam calls every month. It has become a problem so frustrating and costly that the FCC created a special “Robocall Response Team.” And the No. 1 tip for that team: “Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.”

OK, but why did a call from a legitimate debt collector get flagged as spam?

I reached out to Zach Robinson’s cell phone carrier, AT&T, which told me that sometimes legitimate companies are flagged as “spam risk.” And it happens enough that AT&T has a special tool where businesses contact the carrier if they believe their calls are getting labeled as a “spam risk” by error.

“The company was great,” Robinson said about the debt collector that kept popping up as spam on his phone. He said the agency was very understanding and removed two of the three months that he had been reported delinquent to credit bureaus.

The possibility of getting caught off guard by debt collection also provides a good reminder to check your credit report, for free, regularly at annualcreditreport.com.

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Get Gephardt: How important calls mistakenly blocked or flagged as spam are costing Utahns