update: really aggressive spam callers are giving me anxiety attacks

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who was getting such abusive spam callers at work that she was having anxiety attacks? Here’s the update.

Unfortunately the calls did not stop altogether, but they did become less frequent. I originally thought this was one singular man making the horrid calls but eventually a woman claiming to be from another company also started calling, and then a totally different man also did it from another company. All of them vile in their own special ways. A few commenters brought up that it could be someone we know doing this, maybe an employee with a grudge or something. We looked into it and unfortunately nothing came of it, it really was random companies cold calling us. We never contacted authorities about it though, maybe we should have.

Immediately after your answer was posted, the President, VP and I sat down and read through some of the suggestions. While going through it, we started to realize having the line open in the office wasn’t even necessary. We are a really small, specialized company and due to Covid, about 75% of the calls were cold calls of some sort (spam, scam, or other people wanting to work with us as a subcontractor). As mentioned in the first letter, everyone but us 3 were working from home, so anyone that needed to contact the people WFH were already calling their direct cell phone numbers. We decided that I would log the type of calls we got one week, business related, scam or spam, and messages to off site staff, to see if the line was necessary anymore and, well, it wasn’t. The whole week I got maybe 2-3 real calls, spam calls and the typical hostile ones. After that, we took our office number off the website and temporarily off of everyone’s email signatures (there are only 10 of us total so this wasn’t hard) and we changed the setting on the phone to a menu where you select a number and leave a message based on your selection. All clients were given their teams direct contact information so they weren’t left in the dark about the change. We also added an info email, so any potential new clients could email that for questions and such.

This curbed it for a while, and the callers would never leave messages so I never had to deal with the abuse going through the messages in the morning. Eventually they learned to con the menu though (which still had an option to get through for emergencies) and it started again, although on a much smaller scale. At this point my anxiety had resolved itself and the calls were less hurtful to me, I think just getting support made me ease up a bit. I would just immediately hang up and rather than dealing with them calling back several times (which was already harder for them to do because of the menu) I’d just unplug the phone for a while. Not the best solution and we had 2 instances where it caused problems, but we figured out a system for that too that’s currently working.

One day instead of just hanging up on him after his first derogatory comment I plainly told him that he would never, ever get on the phone with my boss, per his instructions, and if he was doing all this for a commission he should start filing for unemployment now, since he wouldn’t get that commission from us. Well, he called me the B word and hung up and I haven’t heard from him again! I did get one more call from the woman but she was mild in comparison and I used the same ‘hang up and unplug the phone” tactic. Rather than getting 25 calls a week, I get maybe 1 or 2 bi weekly.

So yeah! Very happy to have gotten the support from your readers, I think reading all the comments was a big help in easing my anxiety! I imagine this guy will call back at some point, because he is obviously obsessive at the very least, but as of writing this letter, I have had 2 weeks of bliss. I actually wrote this update because a coworker asked how it was going and I didnt even realize life had been so peaceful!

Thank you to you and your readers for wonderful suggestions!

Update to the update:

Womp womp, my peace is over. Just got another call. But i’m still feeling good and it no longer gives me a full blown anxiety attack, so I still take all of this as a win.