Magazine September 9, 2019, Issue

For Whom the Ringtone Tolls

(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

On a lovely late-summer Saturday morning I was about to begin the familiar routine of eating a waffle and then losing interest in eating a waffle, when the phone rang. Didn’t recognize the number. Glared at the unfamiliar digits, bile rising. Can’t I just eat my waffle without a scambot telling me the IRS is en route to arrest me unless I send them $400 in prepaid Visa cards?

I did something uncharacteristic: I answered it. My waffle mood had been sullied by this intrusion, and if I was lucky I’d get a live human scammer, whose day I could ruin.

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