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Hello, [FIRST NAME]?

The title of this post is another tactic used by some robocallers, one I encountered very recently. To me, it's a phrase and a tone of pleasant, if brisk, familiarity that implies a common goal, a sort of friendly "let's get down to business" voice. From someone I actually know, this greeting is preferable. From an AI using pre-recorded responses, it isn't. (Then again, nothing is when it comes to AIs on the phone.)

With scandals in charity operations so recent in the news, I'm getting more and more wary (not weary) of putting any support out there, even for causes that I would usually be willing to back. The voice that this robocaller used is another thing that sets off alarms - to me, it begins by implying that it's a human caller who already knows someone in the household, is on good terms with that someone, and is eager to get to business. It's still not a real boy. (Girl, in this case.)

I asked straight out if this was a recording, and while it's somewhat reassuring that the robocaller was programmed with an honest response, it's also unnerving that I had to ask that question for the robocaller to admit that. To paraphrase, it was a collection of pre-recorded responses with a live agent listening in. As I mentioned, I'm already leery of AIs on the phone, so to be fair, I would've hung up immediately if the call had begun with that information. I hung up anyway.

I did look up the charity that called, and barring any red flags that came out in past years, I'm thinking it's worth a cautious second look. Depending on the source, the charity that called up uses between 61 and 61.9% of the donations it receives on the programs it claims to support. Not enough to meet one watchdog's benchmarks, but hey, at least it's more than 8-10%.

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