The End of Caller ID

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If a number's not in our address book, attached to a very familiar name, there's no reason to pick it up -- it's probably something evil.  Before, if a number even had a familiar area code, it was probably okay to pick it up. It was the hairdresser confirming an appointment, or the school calling about your good-for-nothing kids. But now that telemarketers and debt collectors have figured out ways to game call-screeners by spoofing phone numbers, as The New York Times's Matt Richtel points out, we have completely lost trust in any unknown numbers. "You don’t know who is on the other end of the line, no matter what your caller ID might say," Sandy Chalmers, a division manager at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Wisconsin, told Richtel. But in an age when many people carry cell phones stocked with hundreds or thousands of phone numbers accumulated over the years, Caller ID is already behind the times. We're trained to screen calls from numbers we don't recognize. From here onward it's only trusted address book contacts for us. Email us before you try calling us on that bizarrely area-coded Google Voice number.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.