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New Gadget Blocks 'Spam' Phone Calls

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the this-doesn't-sound-right dept.

274

Smivs writes "The BBC report on a new gizmo that can block/filter spam phone calls. The system basically intercepts all calls. If it recognizes them as a friend or a member of the user's family — numbers on the so-called star list created by the user — it lets them through as normal. If the caller's number is on a zap list — numbers of telemarketers or other nuisance callers — the device answers it, and all future calls from that number, with an automated message which means the phone does not ring at all. If the system doesn't recognize the caller's number, or the caller withholds their number, it asks them who they are, puts them on hold and then rings the user's phone. The user has the option of taking the call, having the system take a message, or they can reject the call and add the number to the 'zap' list. Users can add callers to their 'star' list by pressing the star button on their phone at any point during a call." So wait, they can't spam me twice? If I press a button? And if they actually show their phone number on my caller ID? What about the auto insurance scammers that hit me 10x/week?

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Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#25467227)

The only criticism that I have is that it rings my phone at all (for an unrecognized number). I would prefer a system where an unknown caller (those not on the white list) has to first identify themselves as a real person (by keying some numbers) and then leave a message. The phone should only actually ring for whitelisted callers, everyone else should have to prove themselves human for the privilege of leaving a message.

The most annoying calls now are the "robo-calls." What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing). This pisses me off because it means that my phone company is somehow in cahoots with these bastards and is essentially letting them hijack my phone line without my permission. What if I needed to make an emergency call and had to wait for the robo-call to go through all its "great offers" before I could even dial out?

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (3, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | about 6 years ago | (#25467301)

The only criticism that I have is that it rings my phone at all (for an unrecognized number). I would prefer a system where an unknown caller (those not on the white list) has to first identify themselves as a real person (by keying some numbers) and then leave a message.

This would be a great option for it, however it could be looked at as annoying for the caller. The reason I got rid of my land line when I moved is because of all of the telemarketers, robo-calls, etc. It got to the point where I wouldn't answer unless I recognized the number anyway. If it was an important call, they would probably leave a message anyway.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25467623)

I've been using Vonage for quite awhile now, signed up for the do not call registry, and if I don't recognize the number or it is not shown, I simply do not answer. Life has been much simpler doing that.

Truly, if it is important they will leave a message. I refuse to let my life be ruled by the ringing of a phone or the whims of another person who wants my attention. Leave a message, I'll get back to you ... sometime... if you're nice.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (4, Insightful)

gid (5195) | about 6 years ago | (#25467813)

Annoying for the caller? Too fucking bad. If you can't be bothered to enter the numbers, then I can't be bothered to answer the call.

I've always dreamed about such a device, basically a little captcha for the phone. I work from home and get tons of robo calls, and even if it's not a robot talking on the phone, marketing firms usually have some machine dialing the call and then hand it off to someone once the machine determines there's a human on the line. Ever wonder why you say hello and it takes the person on the other end a few seconds to respond? That's why. Phone captcha would eliminate these calls... at least for awhile until someone beats the captcha.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25467305)

It's a lot easier to just put your name on a Do Not Call list. Since I've done that I've had virtually zero telemarketer calls.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (2, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | about 6 years ago | (#25467479)

That works great, except for all the organizations that managed to get themselves exempted from the Do Not Call list. Political campaigns being the biggest offender. And retards from both sides are calling 1-2 times an hour from about 7-9pm almost every evening since August. Isn't living in a swing-state fun?

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25467513)

I live in the swing state of Pennsylvania and have not noticed a barrage of calls. Actually just one from McCain and that's it.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467777)

That's because Murtha thinks you are a racist

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (2, Informative)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 6 years ago | (#25468311)

Best way to avoid this is to never register to vote. Cuts way back on the political calls (mailings, too.) I've never received either.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (2, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#25467509)

I *am* on the "do not call list." I still get at least two or three of these calls a day. They just masquerade themselves as "surveys" or non-profits (or give me the "We are calling on behalf of your credit card company to tell you about this great offer..." line) to get around the do not call list.

Want to trade phone numbers? (5, Interesting)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | about 6 years ago | (#25467549)

I live in an area with a high Hispanic population, and coincidentally have a Spanish last name. I've been on the DNC list for years, but I get all kinds of telemarketers trying to scam me in Spanish. (It's pretty obvious that these are not legitimate nonprofits or companies. They hang up on me once they find out I speak English.) Blocked CID, of course, so it's hard to report them.

They're counting on the fact that most of their Spanish-speaking targets are either unaware of the DNC and other laws, or more likely are illegal and thus afraid to report them to the Feds.

And that's ignoring the peole who are "Conductiing a survey about your telephone service" or "Conducting a survey about how you recieve television"

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467911)

Doesn't the DNC list not apply to political calls or charities? Most of what I get are the damn police unions asking for money.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468397)

It's a lot easier to just put your name on a Do Not Call list. Since I've done that I've had virtually zero telemarketer calls.

Well, good for you. I've been on the DNC list since it came out and I get on average two calls per day. One company (except charity) has been calling me twice a week for a year now. Yes, I've told them over and over to stop calling. Another company that calls about once a week finally got shut down (I saw it on the news). It took less than a month for identical calls to start up again. I don't know what your definition of virtually zero is, but I just want to be able to tell people to never call me again and for them to stop calling me when I do.

End vs. flash (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#25467361)

What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing).

How long did you leave the phone on-hook? You might have to hold it a few more seconds so that the exchange can determine that you're trying to end the call and not perform a flash [wikipedia.org] .

Re:End vs. flash (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#25467581)

Doesn't matter, it WILL NOT let you hang up on them, no matter how many seconds you leave the phone on the hook. I noticed this when a friend mentioned that he had tried to hang up on one and couldn't. The next time I got one, I tried the same thing and sure enough, it wouldn't let me hang up on it until it had played all the way through. This isn't the case with normal telemarketer calls, only the "robo-calls" (which used to be just political hit-jobs, but now have expanded out to sales calls too).

Re:End vs. flash (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | about 6 years ago | (#25467767)

Some older phone switches wouldn't disconnect until both phones were hung up. The robo caller of course can't tell that your phone is hung up.

Re:End vs. flash (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467937)

*sigh* The phone company is NOT in cahoots with those using the robo-callers, but I can understand how it might appear to be so. If simply hanging up does not work, you can try unplugging your telephone or you can even go to the NID and unplug your entire house from there. One of those two things should work (and you can either leave your receiver off-hook or not while attempting these things). If you're using a telephone with a curly cord, you can also try just unplugging the handset from the base, too.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

clickety6 (141178) | about 6 years ago | (#25467729)

Yep, make any non-whitelisted caller enter a random three-digit number before they are connected. That will get rid of any robo-callers and probably a lot of annoying spammers who couldn't be bothered to keep keying in numbers each time...

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25467753)

I'd like to see it made a felony to have a computer instigate a call. Who's with me?

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (2, Insightful)

Emb3rz (1210286) | about 6 years ago | (#25467815)

Not I.

I'd like to have certain programs of mine call my cell phone to alert me to problems with pre-recorded messages. So far I've been too lazy to adapt them to do such, but my point is that this is something I would consider useful. By no stretch of the imagination do I believe it should ever be considered a felony to automatically contact a person.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#25467969)

How about a misdemeanor for automatically calling someone without a prior agreement?

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

Emb3rz (1210286) | about 6 years ago | (#25468087)

Much less unreasonable.

On the other hand, another one of my clearly brilliant ideas for a program was one that would send out party/event/meeting invitations. You could select any number of methods to contact people. In fact, one of the features would have been to use an existing address book (Outlook, Gmail, whatever) and contact them in the first most preferred fashion available. For instance, Email if they had it, or if not then IM, then telephone, then if only a postal address was available, print out a letter/card/whatever for them.

So again, this would be a useful application (probably harmless, as well) for contacting people automatically via telephone. And in this scenario, it seems unlikely you would have asked your friends/congregation/colleagues ahead of time whether it was okay for you to use this channel to contact them.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#25468191)

It is relatively harmless, but given that we have any number of non real time communication systems, I find it grating when someone thinks they need to use a system that is designed to demand my immediate attention just to send my some automated notice.

I would hope that users of your clearly brilliant system would mostly fail to schedule annoying phone calls for their friends.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | about 6 years ago | (#25467967)

While I see your point, I kind of agree with the other poster who replied.

What I want is a system where when I press the # and * buttons on the phone simultaneously, the phone company sends 10 million volts (AC, at 120Hz, please) through the line to the device on the other end. This will not only get rid of robo-dialers, but also fax machines dialing the wrong number repeatedly and most telemarketers. (The ones that are selling a product people actually want might survive. Maybe. I'm not really sure - and I don't really care.)

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (3, Funny)

Emb3rz (1210286) | about 6 years ago | (#25468209)

<Zybl0re> get up
<Zybl0re> get on up
<Zybl0re> get up
<Zybl0re> get on up
<phxl|paper> and DANCE
* nmp3bot dances :D-<
* nmp3bot dances :D|-<
* nmp3bot dances :D/-<
<[SA]HatfulOfHollow> i'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet

Prior art. ;)

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

chinakow (83588) | about 6 years ago | (#25468251)

that would make faxing a real pain in the ass. Also, a felony? Taking away someone's right to vote because they are an ass? I sort of like the idea but I want to see how the term ass is defined once it has been through a committee or two.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | about 6 years ago | (#25468285)

I'd like to see it made a felony to have a computer instigate a call. Who's with me?

How about a mandatory nominal connection fee (like 5 cents or something) per call, paid from the caller to the reciever. wouldn't affect your grandmother calling to wish you a merry christmas, but would probably deter cold callers making '00000s of calls.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467799)

I got stopped by one of these things because my Skype number didn't display correctly on their end.

Some recording answered and said, "Please state where you are calling from."

"Uhmmmm ... what????"

"Thank you, please hold .... still trying .... still trying .... still trying ...."

Finally a voice on the other end, "Hi, who is this?"

"Uhmmm ... Hi Sandy... what the hell is that thing?"

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (5, Informative)

GalacticCmdr (944723) | about 6 years ago | (#25467851)

The most annoying calls now are the "robo-calls." What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing). This pisses me off because it means that my phone company is somehow in cahoots with these bastards and is essentially letting them hijack my phone line without my permission. What if I needed to make an emergency call and had to wait for the robo-call to go through all its "great offers" before I could even dial out?

I write robo-call software and when something like that happens it is the fault of your local carrier. Many of the local carriers in the US have been getting lazy about sending the proper signals when a connection is disconnected. It is up to the carriers to send this signal. I can regularly call my boss' landline and get a difference of 30 seconds between when he hangs up and when I finally get the signal has been disconnected.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (5, Funny)

xerxesVII (707232) | about 6 years ago | (#25468061)

I write robo-call software...

I'd like to take a moment to thank you for your tireless efforts to make the world a better place.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467953)

Holding the line more than 15 seconds(I think, maybe 20) is a violation of FCC rules. The problem is that you have to be able to report the real number to the FCC and since they hide the number, that's not going to be easy.

I got to report our local water company because their system wouldn't drop the line. When they called back I asked to speak to their supervisor and then informed him of the violation. The only thing he wanted to know was if they were calling the right person so I asked for his full name so I could give it to the FCC since he didn't seem worried about the $100,000+ fine they could receive. Needless to say he wasn't about to go giving it to me but they never had that problem ever again. I don't know if they did it on their own or if the FCC actually checked them out but it worked like a charm.

BTW, I had the idea from TFA long before this came out and it simply used an Asterisk system(or the like).

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (3, Informative)

grub (11606) | about 6 years ago | (#25468045)

I have a similar box (Caller ID Manager) from PrivacyCorps.com which intercepts the first ring and checks the caller ID. We have a Panasonic wireless setup with 4 handsets from which the base station is fed from the CID unit. Bad CID? We never even get that first ring. The call is routed to another plug on the device where we have an answering machine telling the caller we don't take calls from their number.

We've blocked all 800, 866, 888, 000, 123-456-7890, etc. The thing works beautifully.

Re:Hey, we could use that in the U.S. too (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | about 6 years ago | (#25468271)

I doubt the phone co are in cahoots, there are standard signalling methods you can use to hold the line open.

Emergency operators have the facility to seize the line to make sure it stays open.

The fact the marking co are using this is either really cheeky or plain against the rules, I'd ask your telco if they're supposed to be allowing it, it could be as simple as a misconfigured service to the marketing co that they're exploiting.

Do Unto Others ... (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 6 years ago | (#25467229)

What about the auto insurance scammers that hit me 10x/week?

You can't reason with scammers, they use playground logic. Scam 'em back with a not so new gadget [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Do Unto Others ... (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about 6 years ago | (#25468177)

Hmm ... ELIZA [wikipedia.org] + a speech synthesizer [wikipedia.org] + some way to get free incoming calls [intomobile.com] = lots of wasted telemarketer time. It probably wouldn't take too long to get something like that set up with VoiP, either.

Partially useful (5, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 6 years ago | (#25467265)

For me, this would cut out the "firefighters" and "police" charitable funds, and a couple of others that call locally. But the ones that really irk me are the "lower your credit card interest rates" that I get every few days, and it's different caller id each time. Usually falsified caller id. So I would still end up getting about the same number of nuisance calls.

What would be optimal would be the FCC doing their job and shutting the scammers down, but I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Partially useful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467307)

For me, this would cut out the "firefighters" and "police" charitable funds, and a couple of others that call locally.

Oh come on, like Trailer Trash have any money to spare for donations!

Re:Partially useful (5, Informative)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 6 years ago | (#25467451)

For me, this would cut out the "firefighters" and "police" charitable funds, and a couple of others that call locally. But the ones that really irk me are the "lower your credit card interest rates" that I get every few days, and it's different caller id each time. Usually falsified caller id. So I would still end up getting about the same number of nuisance calls.

First of all, don't EVER give money to these "firefighters" and/or "police" charitable funds. Many, many scammers pose as these charitable organizations, and they only want your credit card/checking account info. Also, even if such a charity is legitimate, there's no reason to fund their administrative costs, money that doesn't go to the police or firefighters, money that pays for them to—you guessed it—make more telemarketing calls.

If you want to support your local firefighters and/or police, call them and tell them that you'd like to make a donation. I assure you that they will be more than happy to accept your kindness, and best of all, they will make use of 100% of the money you donate, not pay people to bother yet more people by making unsolicited calls.

Second of all, you're missing part of how this gadget works. If you're not on the whitelist or the blacklist, you'll be asked to say your name. It then rings your line and tells you what the name of the person is who is calling. Or, at least, what they recorded as their name. At that point, you can either answer, whitelist them, or blacklist them.

I suppose your phone might still ring, which could be considered a nuisance, but you're never actually talking to the idiot who is calling you, and there's a measure of satisfaction knowing that they're getting a message that says something like, "This person is refusing to take your call. Have a nice day!"

Re:Partially useful (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 6 years ago | (#25468037)

>I assure you that they will be more than happy to accept your kindness, and best of all, they will make use of 100% of the money you donate, not pay people to bother yet more people by making unsolicited calls.

Is this true? When I worked in the NPO world, fundraising was an expense in the budget. All money collected while fundraising when into the budget. There wasnt a special budget for people who called directly for donations. It all goes into the pool. Perhaps it would be best to write a letter telling them you refuse to donate if they continue to use outbound call centers.

Re:Partially useful (0, Redundant)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 6 years ago | (#25468431)

The overwhelming majority of the "firefighters" and "police" solicitations are outside organizations; sometimes hired by the charity, often acting without authorization at all. They'll usually send a few cents per dollar to the charity, just to maintain the illusion of being legit. The rest goes to "expenses." Why would organizations EVER authorize this? It's free money. They essentially do nothing other than authorize use of their name, and get a check. It matters not that someone else gets 10X as much.

Nothing new here (4, Insightful)

orkybash (1013349) | about 6 years ago | (#25467269)

Phone whitelist services which make callers you're unsure about go through an extra prompt have existed at least since I was a kid. They're annoying as hell to legitimate callers.

Re:Nothing new here (2, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 6 years ago | (#25467971)

Just like locked doors are annoying as hell to legitimate visitors.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Enki X (1315689) | about 6 years ago | (#25468381)

This is more like an invisible force field in front of the door that doesn't even allow you to knock in the first place, unless you're on the whitelist.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

IchNiSan (526249) | about 6 years ago | (#25468317)

So? If someone wants to interrupt what I choose to do with my time, why shouldn't they have to jump through a hoop or two?

If I really wanted to talk to them they would already be whitelisted. What do I care if it annoys them?

Most folks I deal with have learned the best way to get a hold of me is to send me an email, if we need to have a conversation we can arrange it that way.

As things stand now, I do not answer calls from unknown numbers, calls with blocked caller ID, or calls listed as "out of area", this device/service might be better for me as real people could get through if they needed me.

An idea whose time has come (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 6 years ago | (#25467273)

This would be useful not just for spammers and telemarketers, but also for those idiots who just refuse to believe me that no, Nikki doesn't live here, this is not her number and would you please stop calling here 10 times a day already.

Asterisk (4, Informative)

SpooForBrains (771537) | about 6 years ago | (#25467313)

I'm pretty sure that all the above and more is possible with an asterisk setup.

Re:Asterisk (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467459)

This is aimed at the home market - which I don't think can be bothered to set-up an VoIP Server.

Re:Asterisk (1)

neowolf (173735) | about 6 years ago | (#25467663)

Yep. I've been doing this for about two years with a simple Asterisk setup.

Google Grand Central does all this and more... (2, Informative)

jerryasher (151512) | about 6 years ago | (#25468097)

Google's grandcentral offers this (they call it call screening), and they offer more too. Currently in Beta. Currently free.

http://www.grandcentral.com/home/features [grandcentral.com]

Screen Callers
Know who's calling and screen unknown callers

ListenInTM
Hear why someone is calling before taking the call

Call Record
Record calls on the fly and access recordings online

Block Callers
Unwanted callers won't be able to reach you anymore

Notifications
Receive voicemail notifications via email or SMS

Ring Different Phones
One number that rings different phones based on who's calling

Greetings
Personalize your voicemail greetings by caller or group

RingShareTM
Go beyond the ring and choose ringback tones for your callers

WebCall Button
Let people call you from a web page without showing your number

CallSwitch
Switch phones in the middle of a call

Click2Call
Call from your addressbook and save your typing

Mobile Access
Visual voicemail for your mobile phone

Re:Asterisk (2, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | about 6 years ago | (#25467827)

I'm pretty sure that all the above and more is possible with an asterisk setup.

With a machine shop you can build a car. Most people prefer to buy one ready made though.

you can do this with Asterisk too (3, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | about 6 years ago | (#25467333)

There is a crazy girlfriend option for Asterisk that you can have a blacklist and the phone never rings either. Actually, you can have rules as complicated as you like.

Re:you can do this with Asterisk too (2, Informative)

Farhood (975274) | about 6 years ago | (#25467585)

...and GrandCentral [grandcentral.com] . Lord knows I record or "listinIn" _every_ incoming call from an unknown number and then send the telemarketers "to spam" where I never have to worry about them again.

GrandCentral also has its own spam filter of (supposed) telemarketers, and the application allows friends and family to get right through.

Re:you can do this with Asterisk too (1)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | about 6 years ago | (#25467847)

"We're happy to announce that Google has aquired GrandCentral"

Oh well.

RAH's SASL gadget is still better (3, Interesting)

Monty Worm (7264) | about 6 years ago | (#25467363)

I remember reading about a gadget in Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land that did a better job than this.

If you want to talk to me, deposit $midrange_sum_of_money . I will stop what I'm doing and respond to you. If I think the interruption was justified, you'll get your money back. Otherwise, it's a donation to the Charity of Me. Obviously you can let some people bypass this, at least at some times of the day.

Implicit in this is the belief that if you don't trust me with your cash, or you feel that you don't want to risk the money on my whims, leave a message. And there should be a much smaller charge here too, just to stop the telemarketers clogging that also.

$sum needs to be fairly large, but not cripplingly so. A day's pay? Hmmm. Maybe I should just get an 0906 number for my house....

Re:RAH's SASL gadget is still better (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 6 years ago | (#25467779)

I've always thought that would be a good system, too.

There are a lot of systems, for both email, phone, and paper-mail spam, that would work well but require some form of reliable and fast payment infrastructure to implement. That's the real sticking point.

If you had the ability to quickly and easily wire arbitrarily large or small amounts of money to someone (on a 'push' rather than 'pull' basis) without a lot of overhead, either in time or service charges, it would be practical to use micropayments or refundable charges on many kinds of messaging. I'd be all over it for email as well -- want to send me something? No problem, that'll be $1, but you'll get it back after I've read the message and confirmed that it's not spam.

In the absence of such a payment system, you might be able to approximate the same effect with CAPTCHAs, although it's not nearly as good. (Really, a CAPTCHA just requires the sender to spend time before they can communicate with you, and there's no way to easily refund their time back to them, once you've determined that they're not a spammer.)

National Do Not Call Registry (0, Redundant)

bunratty (545641) | about 6 years ago | (#25467389)

I simply signed up on the National Do Not Call Registry [donotcall.gov] (US only). That cut the telemarketing calls from several per day to once a month or two. For those that I still receive, I ask them not to call again. Then I file a complaint on the Do Not Call website because they shouldn't have called in the first place.

Re:National Do Not Call Registry (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 years ago | (#25467751)

It doesn't work cross border. All that is happening now, is Canadian telemarketers call US numbers and US telemarketers call Canada...

Re:National Do Not Call Registry (1)

bunratty (545641) | about 6 years ago | (#25467933)

That sucks. At least I haven't seen that yet. The biggest offenders I've seen so far have been in-state calls. I got a telemarketing call from an area code in Florida last week. And I've lived within 50 miles of Canada for years.

Re:National Do Not Call Registry (1)

sherriw (794536) | about 6 years ago | (#25468371)

Canada just got it's own do not call list- it started on Sept 30 / 2008.

https://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/index-eng [lnnte-dncl.gc.ca]

How it works (2, Interesting)

PearsSoap (1384741) | about 6 years ago | (#25467405)

So, basically, it has a local blacklist and whitelist. Except that

In future, there are plans for the device to be able to download a list of blacklisted numbers from a central database, which can be dialled into via a modem inside the box.

And this will be updated by the users. It might just work.
I'm more impressed by the whole "virtual receptionist" aspect. That could be handy.

Sweet! I wish there was an American one! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467443)

On November 1st, I will be turning off ALL the ringers on my phones. Why? Because the politicians will be bombarding me with calls about how the other guy is Satan incarnate. Some times is backfires. Like the democratic ad against Chamblis here in Georgia. I didn't know that he supported the Fair Tax. Now, I'll vote for him.

Re:Sweet! I wish there was an American one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468301)

Satan incarnate? Pffft. That's why I vote Cthulhu [cthulhu.org]

Not Asterisk! (1)

babycakes (564259) | about 6 years ago | (#25467449)

I'm sure Asterisk is suitable for this. If you have the time, inclination and oh probably a bit of geek inside you to actually want to try and set this up. But seriously, how many grannies [slashdot.org] are going to want to set up an Asterisk server that lives in the corner of their living room next to the pot plant and the electric fire, and worry about what it's doing etc? It makes far more sense if you're going to market this to the general public to make it as easy as pressing a button to block future calls from that number, rather than having to fiddle about with a web interface yourself, or call grandson Johnny and get him to come over and fix it.

Unlisted Numbers (2, Informative)

dmomo (256005) | about 6 years ago | (#25467489)

That's the problem I would have. Probably more than half of the calls I get that are unlisted are calls that I want. The other half are telemarketers. Even though I am on the "Do Not Call" registry, they get around it by either:

a) Pretending to get the wrong number, hanging up quickly when I call them on it.
b) Have some loose (and yes, sometimes legitimate) connection to a "Not for profit and Tax Exempt" business which, at least in Massachusetts is enough for the registry to not apply
c) Is a survey related to some business connection I have. Credit Card companies who sold my info etc.

None of these three are calls that I would pick up, but I just don't see this device weeding them out. I suppose if this device could "answer" then ask for a name, and instead of ringing, play the recorded name... otherwise hang up. That would be good.

End user instead of service provider -- I like it. (1)

glindsey (73730) | about 6 years ago | (#25467507)

This is basically what the "Privacy Manager" feature does on American networks like AT&T, albeit a bit more restrictive. It would answer any calls with no Caller ID automatically, and allow people to record their name; then the Privacy Manager would call you and ask if you want to take the call (similar to the way a collect call works). It would let through all calls with valid Caller ID, though, instead of using a whitelist. We used to have it on our old landline service; unfortunately, our current VoIP provider doesn't offer it.

I'd get one of these in a heartbeat. We already screen our calls based on the Caller ID info displayed anyway, so it would be a nice added step. (I'd love to set up an Asterisk box, but definitely don't have the time...)

What if a Robo-call.... (5, Funny)

sam0737 (648914) | about 6 years ago | (#25467559)

...call into this auto-answer system?

Will two robot start chatting together? We should definitely put some recording to watch them or else the first two machines that pass turning test might gone unnoticed.

round here we call that fangled gadget a secretary (5, Funny)

Capn_Snazzy (785218) | about 6 years ago | (#25467577)

but I would love to set up a touch tone menu for just the telemarketers. --press 1 if you are an annoying caller --press 2 if you are probably just trying to waste my time --press 3 if your intention is to sell me something --press 4 if you just want me to answer your questions for free --but not actually buy anything --press 5 for another menu --press 6 to hear these options again --press 7 seven three three... two three three... five five..one to connect to a live operator (really it would just be another menu but this time with 130 different options spoken in a heavy Scottish slang)

Voicemail (2, Insightful)

Leif_Bloomquist (311286) | about 6 years ago | (#25467615)

Every couple of days I get a "spam" message from a telemarketer, left directly on my voicemail. The phone never actually rings. That's about as frequent as real telemarketer calls. Doesn't sound like this system would stop those, unfortunately.

Telemarketers? (1)

cl0s (1322587) | about 6 years ago | (#25467621)

Forget blocking telemarketers, this is great for blocking collection agencies and pesky credit card companies. :)

Hmm, sounds like a great Android App, with a community maintainable blacklist where you can list numbers under different groups, etc.

done that... (1)

ksheer (914037) | about 6 years ago | (#25467625)

we've already developed this as a premium soft-service & have deployed it at several telcos already. it provides 2 lists: allow & deny & 3 modes allow all, allowed list only & block all. and the telcos provide this service @ as low as INR30.00 per month ( $1)!!! there are several s/w available on symbian which can do this already... i think that the overhead is just as much... adding numbers to the list. apart from that, here in India there is a national DND list, as instructed by the Supreme Court & TRAI... you can get ur number listed on it (toll free ofcourse :P) - no unsolicited calls! and if you do, you know who is in trouble...

The Only Thing I Have to Say - Where Can I Buy One (2, Insightful)

gadlaw (562280) | about 6 years ago | (#25467633)

Nothing gets my blood pressure rising more than phone calls coming in that are not welcomed. I pay for the phone and it's not for advertisers, political pleadings, scammers and assorted idiots who think I owe them the time of day. I just looked at Amazon and it's not there, make this available to the US and you have a best seller.

The DMA will be screaming about this one (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 6 years ago | (#25467643)

How dare we answer their robot dialers with a robot answerer!

The telespammers "time" is very valuable :)

Re:The DMA will be screaming about this one (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 6 years ago | (#25467885)

That's a good one...
I have an Asterisk setup that rejects calls from blacklisted numbers, i should configure it to play ads until the caller hangs up.

Wait where have I seen this before? (4, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | about 6 years ago | (#25467647)

Isn't it hilarious? The industry has created such an itch that people actually PAY to get rid of them. The mafia of this century, and this time it's legal!

Just Screen (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 6 years ago | (#25467665)

For the land line, no tech needed other than an answering machine. You call, you leave a message, and if I know (and want to talk to) you I pick up. If you don't say anything, then you're either a spammer or it probably wasn't very important to begin with.

Bonus: No Caller ID here, so I'm not even responsible for knowing you called (and thus for returning it) if you don't leave a message.

Asterisk (1)

neowolf (173735) | about 6 years ago | (#25467685)

This is really easy to do with Asterisk, however- implementing an Asterisk setup at home is a bit challenging. It's nice to see something like this made into an appliance. This is especially true since you don't have to pay extra for a carrier's "privacy" features to get it.

Revenge (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25467693)

About fifteen or so years ago I had a modem that came with Cheyenne Bitware voicemail software. It was pretty cool, I set something up similar to this gizmo in TFA.

I had it set up so the voicemail messages and callers went thhrough the PC speakers, so if someone I actually wanted to talk to came on I'd just answer. (caller ID showed the number).

"Hello" (pause so it sounded like a person answered and they would start talking) "Hi, you have reached the mcgrew residence. Press one if you wish to leave a message, two if you are a telemarketer, three if you are with a charity, four of you wish to conduct a survey, five if you represent a political candidate who wants my vote...

I had every chioce leading down a labrynthian rabbit-hole that went in circles. Friends and family knew to hit any key twice or just leave a message.

Much hilarity ensued.

My 77 year old dad, when he gets a telemarketer, just lays the phone down and lets them talk, checking periodically to see if they're still on the line. They want to waste your time? Tit for tat. Telemarketers are WORSE than spammers IMO.

Re:Revenge (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468351)

when he gets a telemarketer, just lays the phone down and lets them talk, checking periodically to see if they're still on the line

That's the way to do it. I've had them talk for 15 minutes straight before realizing it. If you really want to get the point across about wasting time, a little "taste of your own medicine" goes a long way.

See Also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467701)

Sounds like the Advanced Call Manager program I have had on my last two smartphones.

I have it setup with two profiles, "Normal" and "Do not Disturb".

For "Normal", anyone not on the black list and not blocking caller ID can call me.

For "Do Not Disturb", only people on the white list can call me.

Then setup the scheduler to flip between modes automatically, and you're all set... (use "Do Not Disturb" 7-8am, 12-1pm, and 5-6pm).

When a call is denied, it goes directly to voice mail without ringing the phone.

Can be done with Asterisk (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 6 years ago | (#25467707)

I already do this using Asterisk...

Callers who withhold their number hear a message asking them to unblock their caller id,
Callers with blacklisted numbers get a message telling them their number is blacklisted,
Callers in my whitelist ring my phone at any time of the day or night,
Any other callers ring only during the day, and go direct to voicemail at night.

What i want tho, is something like this for my mobile... I get a lot more junk calls on my mobile, on the landline i'm usually not in and therefore don't notice until i get home and see the missed calls. Surely it must be possible for someone to write an iphone app that behaves in the same way as my asterisk setup - ie telling users to unblock their callerid or their call won't be answered...

Users who explicitly block their callerid are a real pet hate of mine, why would anyone do that unless they have something to hide? If it's a company, just present your main switchboard/advertised number so i can recognise the call.

Phone encryption and other gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467711)

What I don't understand is why there aren't more whitelist/blacklist/encryption gadgets for phones nowadays. Don't want the NSA hearing everything you say? Buy an encryption device and have all your friends buy one too, generate some 2048 bit keys and start communicating with confidence. Don't want anyone to call you that you don't know? Get a whitelist device, etc.

I can't imagine (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 6 years ago | (#25467755)

I'm one of a LOT of people that I know that hasn't had a land line at home for many years. I can't imagine why somebody would want one. Having a phone ringing at my house all the time with telemarketers would be terrible. Why do people still have land lines at home (assuming cell service is available where you live)?

Re:I can't imagine (2, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 years ago | (#25468055)

Cell service is still poor when compared to landlines, for one thing (I'm speaking of quality here, though availability is true during high-volume call times), and a cell phone for everyone in the family is generally more than land service. It's also expensive in many areas to get dry-loop DSL or cable internet service (for me, it's $17-40 more for internet without a land-phone, depending on speed and provider).

Also, with the DNC list, we get maybe 1 call per month which is a telemarketer. My wife got more wrong-number dials on her new cell number in the first 6 months.

Land lines are convenient for several reasons, though some admittedly fall into the old-codger realm. The biggest is a phone that never moves. For those who have ever a) misplaced a cell phone or b) had an emergency in the house (i.e. 911*), there is a good use for them.

*yes, in theory they can get your location from your cell. In most of the US (by area, not population), though, the only information a 911 center is going to get inside of 10 minutes is your address which is linked in their internal database to your phone number. Even e911 isn't universal - or close to it. If you have a stroke or a heart attack, it may make the difference between recovering and being dead. Remember - Not everyone is 20-something and single.

Hanging up when you answer to the wrong name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467811)

"May I speak to Bob?"

"He is busy. Can you leave a message and he'll call you back?"

"There is no message." Click.

Theses are the telemarketing calls that tee me off. They just waste everyone's time and they are obviously not trying to sell anything since they refuse to give a message.

And even if Bob is there:
"May I please speak to Bob?"

"May I tell him who is calling?"

"It's Joe."

"He says he doesn't know a Joe."

Click.

They refuse to give the name of an organization. The only way to deal with this is:

"May I speak to Bob?"

"This is Bob."

"I am with XYZ company--"

"Please don't call here again." Click.

Only if Bob answers the phone do they tell you what they are calling about. I find that annoying.

It was even worse when I was unemployed and waiting by the phone for a call back from a perspective employer.

Astycrapper (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467819)

There is a script for Asterisk:

http://www.linuxsystems.com.au/astycrapper/

You can route blacklisted numbers to it but more often than not the telemarketer has no callerID. This is way more fun.

MCleaner and iPhone (1)

mario_grgic (515333) | about 6 years ago | (#25467821)

A little "firewall" app for iPhone called MCleaner has the exact same functionality and only costs $20.

May I respond, +1 cynical? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 years ago | (#25467841)

You know that some lobbyist will pay some legislator (who has their own spam callers, every re-election season) to make this illegal.

We need to then find that legislator, and shoot him/her.
We need to then find that lobbyist, and impale them as an example to others.

Then all will be just a little more 'right' with the world.

Telemarketing (junk) call blocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25467843)

I recently put the source code for a (simple) system similar to this on www.SourceForge.net. In the Search: window, enter 'jcblock'.

This is a good idea, asterisk is not for joe avg (1)

d-r0ck (1365765) | about 6 years ago | (#25467853)

This is a good product for an average person. An average person is NOT going to be using asterisk in their home. It likely has the option to block anonymous calls, and if not it should in a future version. It's basically just a whitelist of who can call. It should also have an option to whitelist numbers in advance. Numbers not yet listed should be able to be screened at a later date rather than making the screening immediate. Maybe not a perfect product but a step in the right direction.

My dad taught me a game: "winding up the caller" (5, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 years ago | (#25467867)

I see every unsolicited call as an opportunity. If I am in a hurry there are a number of quick responses.

The "National Security drop number" is a good one. You sound agitated and ask them what their security clearance is. When they don't understand you say "this is a top secret number - hos did you get this?". Whatever they say you then become really calm and say "O..K.. don't worry. Just stay on the line and we will soon have this resolved". Move the phone away from your mouth and ask "how is the trace going.... good". They usually hang up really soon.

Another good one is to ask them for their number so you can call them back. Say you never trust anyone unless you made the call. Some actually will give you a number, which you pretend to write down but ignore

Another is the "sexual interest". This takes a little longer, because you have to start by listening as normal. After a bit you say something like "you know, you sound really hot. Do you live anywhere near (somewhere a long way away)?". If they don't hang up then you can start asking what they are wearing, etc. This works really well for other men, they usually can't wait to get off the line. (I wouldn't go to far, I don't think anyone would try to prosecute you for harassing them when they made the call, but stay legal)

Then there's the "in the same line of business". This can actually be used for a quick call, but its best to wait until they finish. Note down a few points then respond with something better. "Actually I work for associated life insurance, and whereas you can guarantee 4% growth I can offer you a policy that will guarantee 4.2%, plus with a discount on the first six months premiums.

Another one is to listen all the way through and then decline for a really illogical reason. They are well rehearsed at the "can't afford it", "already have an alternative" and so on - but "well I would really love too. But you are called Acme associates. I'm afraid that is just incompatible with my star sign. Especially when you call on a Wednesday"

There are plenty more but you get the picture. They are giving you an opportunity for fun.

Or just wear down their spirit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468395)

What you are describing may be fun the first few times, but I eventually just want the calls to stop. This is difficult considering I am already on the do not call list and the scammers who still call never give out any identifying information (caller ID is forged).

I have taken to simply swearing at them, telling them that what they are doing is illegal, and that they are parasitic scum. The purpose is two-fold. First, it ties up their (semi-)valuable time because I always select the option to talk with a human. Second, and more importantly, I am hoping that it wears down their spirit and makes them loathe what they are doing, if only just a little. Everybody, please do this. It will be so much more effective if this is the default response to their calls. I am referring to the auto insurance, debt consolidation, etc. scammers who ignore the do not call list and hide their identity.

Re:My dad taught me a game: "winding up the caller (1)

CDS (143158) | about 6 years ago | (#25468399)

While that approach definitely has merit, it takes too much time and can be too subtle.

I prefer the direct approach: an airhorn blown right into the microphone.

Why doesn't Vonage do this? (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | about 6 years ago | (#25468063)

The one thing that may motivate my lazy ass to build a home VOIP system would be to have a CID blacklist feature.

And even better, a distributed MAPS-style CID blacklist, pointing to say whocalled.us or some similar service.

As I recall, this was predicted in "2081" (1)

Chris.Nelson (943214) | about 6 years ago | (#25468065)

Two Thousand Eighty-One : A Hopeful View of the Human Future by Gerard K. O'Neil predicted TiVo/DVR and several other things including this, if I recall correctly. Sounds good, though.

Telemarketing (junk) call blocker (1)

SaberCat (1391411) | about 6 years ago | (#25468081)

I recently posted the source code for a (simple) system similar to this on www.SourceForge.net. In the Search: window, enter: jcblock

Sucks to have a phone in the USA (1)

mollymoo (202721) | about 6 years ago | (#25468239)

Judging by the responses here nuisance calls are about two orders of magnitude more of a problem in the US than in the UK. Here, if as an individual you opt out of marketing calls you don't get any - that includes charities and political parties. They clamp down hard and fast on people who break the law (it is illegal, not just a breach of your terms and conditions). Many businesses have consent for marketing in their standard contracts, but I've only had a few such calls in my life and if you tell them to stop they have to, by law.

It's worse for businesses, AFAIK they can't opt out of marketing calls. When I worked in a telephone exchange we'd get three or four marketing calls per week. The most amusing ones were when they tried to sell you phone service or broadband. "This is a British Telecom exchange mate, we've got 20 000 lines already" shut them up pretty fast.

Old old old news (1)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#25468369)

This kind of product has been out for years. Oh, this one probably has some option that all the others don't, but it's about as much "news" as "Dell's next laptop will come in olive green".

Free alternative (1)

DavidIQ (971233) | about 6 years ago | (#25468417)

I have a server at home so this is a good option for me as well as for anyone else that has one. It took a few tries to find the right modem for the job that would recognize caller IDs and also respond to the phone call but in the end it was well worth it.

The software is called PhoneTray Free [phonetray.com] and the modem I use is an Agere Systems PCI-SV92PP (that may or may not be the right model...bought the modem online but it's definitely an Agere as recommended by the software developer). Hooked up the phone line to it and it screens all calls. I can set it to respond with things like "This number has been disconnected" or "We do not accept telemarketing calls" and other typical phone company messages. Before I put this in we were getting phone calls all the time from collection agencies looking for other people and wouldn't stop calling even after telling them the person did not live there. Now they just get a "This number has been disconnected" and the frequency of the calls has actually dropped!

Worth a look if you don't want to pay for such a service.

Re:Free alternative (1)

DavidIQ (971233) | about 6 years ago | (#25468463)

Forgot to mention that yes there is no pre-set phone list to block but you can set it to only answer calls on the list or start adding numbers easily to the blocked list as they come in. A simple right-click and block option is all it takes :)

get GrandCentral instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468557)

this offers nothing over GrandCentral (now a google company) - it is hardly more interesting than call filters already available for any nokia phone (most of which are free).

i call this fluffnews.

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