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COLUMN: Like a good neighbor State Farm is there ... but not at my number

By Tammy Malgesini

Staff Writer

Published on September 26, 2017 8:47PM


I get so tired of the continuous calls from telemarketers and the incredibly annoying, “This is your last chance regarding renewal of your car warranty.”

If only.

Seriously, do they really think after they’ve pestered me for the umpteenth time that I’m finally going to give in? I did get a short reprieve when I lied, saying I no longer owned said vehicle.

With all the robocalls and telephone scams I have a tendency to ignore calls from numbers I don’t recognize. I used to readily answer calls from local numbers. However, it seems scammers are spoofing people by disguising their number — often making it look like it’s a local phone number.

When John and I got rid of our landline, we still wanted a “home phone.” We got an additional cell phone with an unlisted number, which we’ve given out to very few people. So, imagine my surprise when it began ringing off the hook one morning last week.

After the third call, I finally answered. The gentleman asked if this was State Farm. I said no and hung up. The next call went the same way.

Then the fifth call was from a dude that identified himself as a State Farm agent in Hermiston. He indicated Eastern Oregon Telecom got some wires crossed and their office calls were being routed to my cell phone. Although their slogan says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” — it’s not at this number.

He asked what my phone number was. Due to all the scammers, I didn’t feel comfortable telling him. He said he understood, but again said who he was and described where his office was located, including businesses that are nearby.

Then another call came in — a female this time. She asked if I was State Farm. I told her no and let her know they were having problems with their phone lines. Then, the guy, who was in the background, spoke up. It seems they were still trying to test their phone.

By this time, Eastern Oregon Telecom had identified what number it appeared they were forwarding calls to and the State Farm agent wanted to confirm if that was my number. I hesitated. I’ve heard all kinds of scammer tricks, including how they will record you saying, “Yes,” and then use it to make money transfers or open accounts.

Trying to ascertain if he truly was in Hermiston — I would have driven down to the State Farm office but I was in Lincoln City — I decided to play Hermiston trivia. You know, ask questions that a local would readily know. I said, “Who is the mayor of Hermiston?” Ding, ding, ding, he got it right by saying Dave Drotzmann. Then I asked which former mayor died recently. He said he wasn’t so sure and then replied, “Bob of Bob’s Red Apple,” referring to Bob Severson. Although the correct answer is “Who is Frank Harkenrider?,” a scammer certainly couldn’t have known the connection with Mayor Bob.

I called Eastern Oregon Telecom and they finally got things figured out. Oh, and I do have a couple of phone messages for Jesse at State Farm.

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Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.



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