Like a majority of people who took time out of their busy days to complain about it, when I got 4 robocalls in a row from 833-289-1205 I assumed it was some kind of scam. A robovoice identifying itself as CVS/Caremark

The first call came, irritatingly enough, early enough on a Saturday morning that it woke me from a peaceful sleep. That robocall left a voicemail, in which the robot correctly stated my name, then invited me to call back for “important information”. The robot then read off a 7-digit PIN for me to enter should I actually return this call. Here’s what it sounded like (I excised the 7-digit PIN):

After the first robocoall left this voicemail I received three more calls, exactly one hour apart, from the same number, 833-289-1205. All calls showed “CVS/Caremark” as caller ID. Only the first call left a voicemail.

I did not want to be bothered with this on a Saturday morning, but later I looked around on that Internet thing and found most discussion seemed to reach the same conclusion as I. Regardless if it was legitimately CVS calling or some kind of phishing scam I don’t think there was any way I would actually call back. It just seemed too weird. Considering how easy it is to spoof caller ID a well-planned criminal could scoop up all kinds of personal information from unsuspecting people who return these calls.

Still, I had my foggy memories of getting calls from CVS/Caremark, even though I do not believe I have ever filled a prescription at any of their locations. I did get my Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination shots at a CVS. Maybe this was a loving caring robot calling to see how I handled the side-effects?

Looking back I found a couple of calls from 833-289-1205 in January. If those were robocalls those robots either did not leave voicemails or I deleted them. I also entered 833-289-1205 into a lookup which identified the owner of the number as CVS/Caremark. That is reassuring but regardless of that assurance the specter of fraudsters spoofing caller ID in a scenario like this cannot be dismissed.

My question was finally answered a few days later. On Tuesday I got a notice via postal mail from CVS/Caremark informing me that a certain medication I’d been prescribed had been deemed medically necessary. Now it made sense. I do not get prescriptions at CVS but my insurance plan uses CVS/Caremark to determine what prescriptions they (the insurer) will or will not cover. The Saturday morning robocalls must have been intended to inform me of this.

This almost makes it look like CVS is , in a corporate structure, upstream from Walgreen’s, which in this case distributes its drugs according to what CVS dictates.

All told I did not need the robocall or the postal mail notice. I knew the medication in question had been approved, and I had already picked it up about a week earlier. Was all this follow-up even necessary?

Given the timing and the context I do now believe the Saturday morning robovoicemail heard above did come from CVS/Caremark, not a phishing scammer. Still, the possibilities of scammers horning in on something like this are not to be dismissed. Even if I had no doubt the robocall was legitimate when it came I don’t think I would have returned a soulless call like this.

I am not offended when a pharmacy or similar business robocalls or texts to let me know a prescription is ready for pickup. An informational notification like that seems like a reasonable and smart efficiency.

But incoming robocalls expecting interactive responses from humans far too easily raise suspicions and skepticism.