A local man copes with a new twist on the robocall problem

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Local residents frustrated by local Interent connectivity issues.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Roscoe Smith of Sugarcreek Twp. scrolled through his smartphone’s call log shaking his head.

“It’s crazy. This is all just yesterday,” Smith said.

Three weeks ago he started receiving multiple phone calls and texts a day - "Who is this? Why did you call me? What do you want?"- finally realizing his phone number had been illegally spoofed by robocallers.

“Somebody is making phone calls but putting my number in for the caller ID - so it appears that I am making those phone calls when in fact I’m not,” Smith said.

It even happened to his wife- and it happened during our interview.

So, Smith did what he’s been doing every day for weeks, he called back to explain.

“I’m losing time. I’m losing patience, but it’s not really costing me anything financially and there are people out there that perhaps it has- and those are the people I really feel sorry for,” said Smith.

The robocalling culprits may be impossible to catch, said BBB president John North.

“Unfortunately most of these things are originating from outside of the U.S. and so the FBI, the CIA, Interpol are not going to go and arrest these individuals,” North said.

Smith said the robocallers appear to be trying to get account information and they are targeting anyone with the prefix 937-238.

Roscoe Smith, Sugarcreek Township, copes with spoofed phone number.
Roscoe Smith, Sugarcreek Township, copes with spoofed phone number.

“There’s only 10,000 potential numbers so at some point they are going to run out, right?” Smith laughed, “and this problem, hopefully, will be over for me.”

New rules were adopted by the FCC Thursday to help people like Smith who have had their numbers spoofed- including allowing the victim to halt robocalls- but how it can be done is not yet clear. I reached out to the FCC to find out more but I haven’t heard back yet.

In the meantime, if you are a spoofing victim -your best bet is to change your number or wait it out- and report it to the FTC and FCC.

More retailers are closing stores

Sears, Kmart and J.C. Penney - those names used to be synonymous with shopping- but times have changed.

“J.C. Penneys - I used to shop there a lot when my son was younger, but not anymore,” said Tammy Combs of Vandalia.

“Once in awhile I go to Sears because they carry Lands’ End which is a good brand,” said Betty Finke of Miamisburg.

But “used to shop there” and “once in awhile” aren’t enough to keep business booming.

Sears and Sears-operated Kmart will be closing 150 stores total by Spring and company leaders indicate that they fear they can't survive the rest of the year.

Much the same for J.C. Penney- the company announced it's closing 138 stores.

It doesn't stop there- several more retailers are closing brick and mortar stores at an alarming rate, including Macy's which will shut down 68 stores, HHGregg: 88, Payless: 400 to 500 locations.

“They have been thinking - ‘we are too strong, we are too big to fail,’” said U.D. associate marketing professor Serdar Durmusoglu.

Many of these retailers failed to catch up with the online shopping boom and counter competition from Walmart and other big box stores, but consumers shouldn’t worry, he said.

“These physical stores are not going to evaporate overnight and actually they are not going to go away in the long run, either,” said Durmusoglu, and he thinks at least one of these retailers will rise from the ashes.

“Some of them, like J.C. Penney may actually emerge from such a move. Once you consolidate your stores, you might actually get stronger and you can serve your customers better,” said Durmusoglu.

Poor or absent internet

You may remember this story about the lack of broadband internet service in one area of the Miami Valley- and if you have a similar problem - or lack thereof- local leaders want to know.

Take this survey to explain your issue -whether it's no connectivity or poor service.

According to a news release from Connected Nation, “this project will assess the status of broadband access, adoption, and use in our area so we can develop a broadband Technology Action Plan to improve the quality of life and economic potential across the area.”

Residents, business owners, and organizations across the Miami Valley are encouraged to take the survey.

Rachel Murray is a WHIO-TV consumer reporter. You can watch her reports on News Center 7, follow her on Twitter @RMurrayWHIO, and like her fan page on Facebook.

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