I got a new cellphone from work about two years ago. . . At first, I was getting calls looking for “Joseph” or “Jerome,” who I assume skipped town. The calls were from collection agencies or ‘relatives’ looking to speak with Jerome. I tried hanging up, but would get multiple phone calls and voicemails from them–usually live people–unless I answered the phone and immediately said something to the effect of “Department of Agriculture, Special Programs, Unclassified Line, call recorded for security.*” That would normally give the caller pause.
The caller would ask for “Jerome/Joseph” where I would simply repeat that they were calling ‘a government line,’ and ‘put this number on your do-not-call list.’ I never mentioned my name or anyone elses. I just stuck to the ‘government line’ spiel. Twice, though, a caller was a bit persistent, and I started some off-the-cuff questions like, “What is the name of your company? What is its address? Can you spell out the city and state? What is the ZIP Code? What are the last four digits of the hyphenated ZIP code. This is for an investigation where I will turn this all over to our Security Division to contact you. . . this is a government line. . .” The calls were reduced dramatically.
Up until last week, I hadn’t gotten a call in awhile. Then, during the workday three weeks ago, I got a voicemail from a process serving agency who indicated they were going to serve me, “Jerome” at my place of work. They gave me a phone number and reference number to respond to. I kindly gave them a call back at that number, and gave them the reference code–immediately, without skipping a breath, the guy on the phone starts rambling on about my location, place of work, I will be served, my Supervisor needs to be there to sign witness paperwork, I need to have two IDs, yadda yadda yadda. I abruptly cut him off and said, “You’ll need firearms to get past the guards. You’ve already violated the Privacy Act of 1974 by giving me details of Jerome and his actions. I am not Jerome nor Joseph. This is a government line, and you are being recorded.” I heard the caller punch in some keys, and then say, “This number will no longer be contacted. Good day.”
*Note: Make up your own spiel that you can tangentially defend. I haven’t figured out how to record phone calls on my cellphone yet, but it’s a matter of time. It is a government-funded line, though.
Dept of Agriculture: Don’t f*ck with farmers, man. . .