Is this a survey, spam, or scam

Several times in the past month I have received a recorded phone message that is, “Please take this one question survey. Do you think the police have a dangerous job? Press one for yes, two for no”. That’s it. I never respond. I wonder if I did whether they would stop calling.

What’s the point? Could they have an ulterior motive? If I answer “yes”, would that put me on a call list for police donations? Is it a test just to see if someone is home?

They are trying to find out if
[ul][li]This is a working phone number (their robo-dialer calls everyone in a given exchange)[/li][li]If someone there is sympathetic to the police.[/ul][/li]Everyone who responds - everyone, not just those who press 1 - will get spam calls from phony charities who claim to be collecting for police widows and things like that.

So, midway between spam and scam.


I don’t know about this particular survey but typically this kind of thing is followed by a fundraising effort related to the survey question. They try to get you engaged first, because some people actually like to take surveys, and then hook you in to the pitch.

Also a lot of spammy phone calls are just to build lists of people who answer the phone. I no longer even pick up when my caller ID shows UNKNOWN or a name I don’t recognize.

The “sheriff charity” telemarketers are among the worse. They usually have no connection to any department, give no money to them, etc. The few who do have a deal with real police force only forward pennies on the dollar.

Just ignore anything about police/sheriff type telemarketing.


I think these are getting blocked now, but when I did get them, I asked what department they were associated with. I think their directions were to be misleading but not untruthful, and that shut them up.

The first time I got one of these calls, I was buying into it. They asked if they could send me a packet of information, and I thought that sounded harmless enough, so they transferred me to the person who was going to “confirm” my address. They started out saying “so you live at (some random address)?” I said “No, that’s nothing like my address.” So of course they asked me for my address, and I said that I don’t give out personal information over the phone, and for several rounds of back and forth I stuck to that. Finally I hung up. These days I just say “Sorry, I don’t give money to people who call me on the phone” when they take their first breath, and then I hang up.

I just pick up and hangup to stop the ringing. Also, since we are getting to primary election season it stops the political ads on my voicemail.

I received a call last week from a group that claimed to be working for laws against crimes on law enforcement officers. So I started asking whether there were existing laws that covered such crimes and why new laws were necessary. The caller hung up fairly quickly. I rarely pick up my landline phone and especially not when the calling number is unknown but when I do, I never let them run through their script. Instead, I ask them questions about what they intend to do with the money and why it’s needed. (Another caller wanted money to grant wishes to dying children, so I asked what percentage of the money went to the wish-granting. I was told only fourteen percent, with the rest going to administrative and other expenses. I just told them that I’d rather find some children and give them money directly.)

The “telephone survey” makes the call get around the requirements of the Do Not Call registry, and other spam requirements. If you answer a survey, no matter how mundane, you now have an established a “business relationship” and thus they are free to call you without violating the law.
Rule #1 - Never respond to telephone surveys.
Rule #2 - When in doubt, refer to Rule #1.

I usually say “Can you hold on a second, someone’s at the door.” Then I place the phone by the TV or radio and leave it sit for a while till they get frustrated and hang up.