Five Great Reasons to Avoid Answering That Call

 

We all receive phone calls from unusual numbers, sometimes multiple times per day. Often they come from telltale 800 or 888 numbers, but there are also myriad out of town area codes. Is it your old college buddy Bill from Charlotte who just got a new phone or a robotic voice offering you a discount on mattresses?

Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight
Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight

It often feels like more of a hassle these days to answer your phone than it is letting it go to voicemail or risking missing an important call. Yet the temptation to answer can be strong, especially if you’re in a situation, business or otherwise where you could be expecting a call from a number you don’t recognize.

Here are five types of calls where it pays to know where the number is calling from and whom it belongs to before you pick up.

The ex with the new number

You’ve done your best to block contact with your unstable ex, filtered his emails and blocked his number (or changed his name in your address book to DO NOT ANSWER). But exes can be persistent and if they sniff out that they’re being ignored, calling from an unknown number to get you to answer is often an effective tactic.

The debt collector looking for your number’s previous owner

“Hi, is this Maya?” These types of calls often come in spurts and are extremely annoying to field, usually the result of the person who last had your number not keeping up with their bills.

The irrelevant sales call

Bad news: the used car dealership sold your information to a hundred other vendors and now they’re all calling you to offer everything from driveway repairs to gutter cleanings. In addition to being annoying, they’re irrelevant because you live in an apartment building.

The time consuming survey

Surveys can often be sales calls in disguise. In any case you probably have better things to do than answer a bunch of random questions for a total stranger over the phone.

The scam artist

Most worryingly of all, unknown incoming calls can also be from scammers trying to talk their way into your wallet. A recent scam affecting the Pittsburgh area involved con artists impersonating IRS agents trying to collect on phony back taxes.

As you can see, there are a number of reasons to avoid answering your phone right away these days. Take precautions to know who is calling you before you jump on the phone with them and save yourself a potential headache.

What’s the one phone call you wish you didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

“Coffee Meets Bagel” Meets Big Money

You might remember the three impressive sisters from a recent episode of Shark Tank who turned down what seemed like an amazing $30 million offer from Mark Cuban for their dating platform Coffee Meets Bagel. I must admit, I thought they were over-confident (OK, crazy!) to turn down such a deal, but today comes news that their independent vision has been at least partly validated by raising $7.8 million in a fresh round of funding.

Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson
Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson

At the time the sisters rejected Cuban’s offer, one retorted that they see their business growing “as big as Match.com.” In fact, the sisters have already raised nearly $3 million from Match.com’s founder who clearly sees the promise in the approach.

Whether that’s possible is still an open question, considering that Coffee Meets Bagel’s online dating system is more than just a twist on current online dating models; it looks to totally modify online daters’ behaviors by limiting matches to just one per day.

How does Coffee Meet Bagel work in detail?

The site is betting big on its ability to make quality matches based on use of your own social network. Like we wrote of SparkStarter before it, Coffee Meets Bagel uses your social network as a means of validating matches, giving users tired of Tinder and OKCupid’s less filtered approach of allowing any user to contact any other user.

Here’s the kicker: Coffee Meets Bagel sends one match per 24 hour period and only allows contact between the two users if both signal mutual interest. Obviously, it’s a much more considered, and some would say, limiting, approach to online dating. The concept is designed to mimic a “flash sale” which has become popular with indie e-commerce shops.

While Coffee Meets Bagel’s early success looks promising for its future, it’s hard to see it becoming truly mainstream service except for those that burn out of the most popular dating sites. Tinder’s wild popularity is driven as much by its game-like properties than its ability to find a truly compatible match.

And as we’ve argued before, the perceived validation of a potential match coming from your social network is only that: a perception.

Until then we can only speculate if the sisters would have been better off with Mark’s millions.

You can read more about Coffee Meets Bagel and watch their original Shark Tank segment over at Entrepreneur.

SparkStarter Allows Your Married Friends to Set You Up

 

It seems like every day there is a new online dating app coming to market. Part of this has to do with the fact that so many people are now dating online these days. As the numbers grow, so does the demand for different methods to match up with unknown singles in your area.

SparkStarter relies on your friends to help you find love. Photo credit: Phil Kates
SparkStarter relies on your friends to help you find love. Photo credit: Phil Kates

The latest app to enter the online dating arena is SparkStarter, which utilizes Facebook profiles to help create matches.

Sound like Tinder? Well, not exactly.

While the mechanism of the dating app is similar, with users marking yes or no when a potential match’s Facebook profile photo comes up, what sets it apart is its reliance on a community of non-single people.

Why would a dating app want attached people using it?

No, before you ask, SparkStarter isn’t catering to the swingers market. The app is simply betting that a platform that encourages personal recommendations from people you actually know will be more effective than the current methods of taking a guess based on someone’s photo, location and a few shared interests.

While some sites like OKCupid have taken profile data to the next level, relying on algorithmic matching, most OKC users are likely to have had at least one bad date with a compatibility match of 90% or more. That is, of course, when OKCupid is not experimenting on their users by intentionally matching them with incompatible dates.

So it seems clear that a gap in the matchmaking process of online dating does exist, but how likely is SparkStarter to be successful in filling it?

The app will need to convince enough married and coupled people that it’s worth their time to play matchmaker with their single friends. And this could backfire in the awkward event that a recommended date turns bad. One negative experience is likely to turn a new matchmaker off permanently from such activities.

More importantly, SparkStarter users will need to weigh the trustworthiness endorsements of “friends” on their social networks closely.

While SparkStarter’s approach, like The Grade before it, seeks to elevate the often shallow and ill-considered methods of choosing a date online, in almost all cases your friends won’t have 100% of the information about a person they are recommending for a date.

Follow your common sense and the well-tested best practices for dating unknown people, whether online or off, to ensure your safety.

Read more about SparkStarter on VentureBeat and let us know if you think this idea will work in the comments.

New Dating App Says Less Is More

 

One common problem with online dating is what’s known as the paradox of choice. Most dating apps provide so many potential matches, so many witty profiles and attractive photos that it can often cause anxiety or even paralysis in terms of making a decision to pick one person out of the vast crowd to go on a real date with.

New app promises more dates in real life, like this one.
New app promises more dates in real life, like this one.

The feeling of unlimited choice may have peaked with the emergence of Tinder, Grindr and similar apps that let you scroll through endless profile photos of people in your area. In fact, as we’ve noted before, a plurality of Tinder users actually view the dating app as more of a game than a legitimate site for meeting a romantic partner.

Enter Coupleizer. This new dating app tries to solve for the paradox of choice found on most dating sites by taking a minimalist approach to their users’ profiles to encourage more actual dating and less time spent scrolling on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

The site asks for just one up-to-date photo (a selfie, at that), along with very basic personal information such as age, gender and sexual orientation. It also does away with OKCupid-style algorithmic matching, which Coupleizers’ founders suggest is mostly wishful thinking.

Coupleizer’s “get to the date” method may help ward off the type online dating scammers we have warned you of before, who rely on building up a long-term, false intimacy via streams of messages, before then hitting up their lonely victims for money without ever meeting in person.

However, users should also be sure to take advantage of the chat feature when receiving a date invite and find out more about their potential matches than the minimal details on his or her Coupleizer profile. We think full name and specific location are a good start, and you can ask for more telling details as your intuition or common sense suggests you should.

Remember that information is power, and cutting out some of the unnecessary back and forth that can be prevalent in online dating shouldn’t mean entering into an information vacuum, nor going on a date with someone before you feel you have a good sense of who they are (and the data to back that feeling up).

You can read more about Coupleizer’s approach to online dating on TechCrunch.

What do you think? Is less more when it comes to online dating? Or are there pieces of information you must have before going on a date?

5 Amazing Data Stories About This Year’s Super Bowl

 

You might be feeling pleased or deflated about the result of the Super Bowl last night, but don’t let that stop you from checking out some of the best data-oriented writing about the biggest game of the year (other than the World Cup Final, European Champion’s League Final, Cricket World Cup Final—but we digress).

Check out some of the thought provoking stories below about the game, its fans and of course, the commercials and let us know of any we missed in the comments section:

Super Bowl XLIX Was Not The Most Exciting Super Bowl Ever via FiveThirtyEight

Despite the game coming down to the wire, this Super Bowl ranks surprisingly low on a proprietary excitement index of all Super Bowls.

Survey: 1 in 4 Americans believe God helps decide who wins games like the Super Bowl via Vox

“A recent survey of a random sample of 1,012 Americans, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, suggests that one in four Americans believe that “God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event.”

Five Myths About Super Bowl Ads via The Washington Post

This article finds that a Super Bowl Ad is nearly twice as expensive as a regular TV spot in terms of customer acquisition, but their overall effectiveness is questionable.

Super Bowls Are Getting More Interesting via The Upshot

“Five of the last seven — and 10 of the last 17 — Super Bowls have been decided by a touchdown or less.”

Twitter Crowns McDonald’s as Best in the Super Bowl via AdAge

Over 28.4 million tweets were sent during the game and halftime show this year.

How many times will you move in your life?

 

According to data blog FiveThirtyEight, the average person will move 11.4 times in his or her lifetime. That’s a lot of moves in its own right, but the potential for younger people to move even more than that is a real possibility.

The average American will move homes more than 11 times. Photo credit: Nick Aldwin
The average American will move homes more than 11 times. Photo credit: Nick Aldwin

There are a number of reasons for this, including the effects of the financial crisis which some pundits have speculated means more younger people renting rather than buying their homes. This could naturally lead to more people moving as their leases expire for a better deal elsewhere.

Another reason for a potentially higher number of moves also has to do with the economy and people’s willingness to change cities for work. This is particularly true of younger people, who are increasingly delaying ties like marriage and having children, in addition to home ownership.

In his book, The New Geography of Jobs, Enrico Moretti argues that the United States is increasingly composed of “brain hubs” or cities with high quality jobs that attract clusters of knowledge workers. Young workers with decent skills and education may make many different circuits between cities like San Francisco, Austin, DC and New York as they seek new opportunities.

This type of brain hub landscape is a far cry from our grandparents’ world of securing a job for life in their hometowns.

However, the FiveThirtyEight article also notes that this increased mobility isn’t always the result of in demand workers chasing the next great opportunity:

When surveyed by the Census Bureau about why they moved in the past year, people gave reasons including searching for a better home (cited by 15 percent of movers), cheaper housing (8 percent), and foreclosure or eviction (2 percent). Sometimes staying put is a sign of stability.

No matter what reasons have caused your moves, there are a lot of reasons you may need to reference your past address information. If you need help remembering details you can utilize a background check service like BeenVerified’s which will give you historical address information in one report.

Check out the full article on what’s driving the moves of many Americans on FiveThirtyEight above and let us know if you are over or under the average for moves in the comments section.