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We’re having a terrible problem at home these days: of spam phone calls – to both mobile phones and land-lines (Yes! A few of us old-timers still have those! Lol). There are apps you can get for your cell phones and you can have your land-line carrier block certain numbers you notice calling with spam. It really is annoying, and I have no idea why the spammers can’t be shut down unless there’s a freedom of speech issue I’m not aware of. You would think we’d be able to have our privacy at least in our homes if not our mobile devices, but so far, I’ve not seen any trustworthy solution offered by anyone.

Spamming COPD patients

What’s become apparent to me lately is that some calls are related to my being a COPD patient. We’ve started to get unsolicited phone calls about life-insurance among other things. Now, granted, some of these activities may be more tied into the fact that I recently celebrated my 65th birthday and I’m sure that’s public knowledge – not protected by any law or anything. But then suddenly, “pain solution therapies,” “respiratory breathing exercise programs,” “academic studies concerning lungs,” and so on and so on…

Tracking internet activity

I am not a “techie” by any means at all. I hadn’t thought much about whether my personal information on Facebook or other social media sites gets culled by hackers and sold to companies interested in selling me something. But just this past weekend I read an excellent article in The New York Times, “I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me,” about how our internet activity is constantly tracked. The activity gets turned into leads for sales or – you guessed it – spam.

From the article: “I didn’t have to visit any shady sites or make any untoward searches — I just had to venture somewhere, anywhere, and I was watched. This is happening every day, all the time, and the only reason we’re O.K. with it is that it’s happening behind the scenes, in the comfortable shadows. They use the data to conduct targeted advertising but can also use it to track where I’m moving and build a more detailed picture of my interests and activities. The internet wasn’t built to track people across websites. But that didn’t stop advertisers. They developed technology to share identifiers among websites.”1

Self-education and spam expertise

I do a lot of research about COPD for articles and self-education. I’m pretty certain that’s one of the ways you can become a target of COPD spam. But, it’s obvious the spammers haven’t done a very thorough job in our case because, if they had, they’d discover we’re still paying off student loans for our 3 children and have 10 more years left on our mortgage (we married late!). So, we’re not exactly in the market for buying whatever frivolous information, program, or lessons they’re trying to trick you into ordering.

I’ve become a semi-expert on spam email and can almost recognize it immediately without opening it. The #1 problem spammers have is they can’t spell, and spelling is one of the only things I CAN do! I got a spam email from “PayPall” the other day and recently one with a return address from “Aple Computers.” I don’t know a single soul in Nigeria and there’s no way they have a check for me in the amount of $254,000 dollars.

I constantly get phone calls from all over the world telling me to quickly give them my credit card number so they can process payments and stop the virus that suddenly began running through my Microsoft system and home computer. I take great pleasure in slowly asking them to explain and getting them annoyed and finally revealing, “I have a Mac.”

This could be just the beginning

I don’t know if I’m alone in noticing this slow but determined buildup of spam calls related to my COPD. I find these completely disturbing. I can’t imagine what kind of company or person would take advantage of an illness to fill their pockets with cash – although, the biggest story in today’s newspapers was about Johnson & Johnson, one of America’s most trusted names in health care, being sued and ordered to pay $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis.

With similar lawsuits across the country, that could be just the beginning. I’m not sure how to approach the spam/COPD problem (if there is one – I’ve been wrong before) just yet. But if you’ve found yourself having similar experiences, I hope you’ll let me know.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. “I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me,” The New York Times, August 25, 2019.