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FTC Gets 744 New Ideas On How To Hang Up On Robocallers

timothy posted about a year ago | from the I'd-prefer-starving-them-in-a-cage dept.

Communications 281

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said the submission period for its Robocall Challenge had ended and it got 744 new ideas for ways to shut down the annoying automated callers. The FTC noted that the vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal. The FTC regulates these calls under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Challenge was issued to developing technical or functional solutions and proofs of concepts that can block illegal robocalls which, despite the agency's best efforts, seem to be increasing."

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Google Voice call screening (1)

Plum (253578) | about a year ago | (#42753461)

Until something better presents itself.

Re:Google Voice call screening (4, Informative)

penix1 (722987) | about a year ago | (#42753515)

The problem is the law. There are so many loopholes in it you could drive a Mac truck through them. For example, the whole "if we did business with you before we can contact you again" part. There is no definition of "doing business" and it can include things like they sent you snail-mail spam. It also exempts the most annoying which are the political robocalls. In short, the law itself is contributing to the problem.

Re:Google Voice call screening (5, Funny)

NevarMore (248971) | about a year ago | (#42753541)

There are so many loopholes in it you could drive a Mac truck through them.

Is Apple making wheeled vehicles now?

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year ago | (#42753889)

The problem is an Apple Mac truck would be really small, thin, and made of aluminum. I don't know who would want to drive that death trap. At least all the corners would be rounded.

Re:Google Voice call screening (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754081)

I wouldn’t worry about the Apple Mac Truck being a death trap; after all they are all very well engineered devices.

It's the other things that worry me; such as add-ons like the "Standard fuel pump to iGas adapter", "sloped driveway parking adapter", and the fact that I could only get gas, wiper blades, air freshener and other iTruck items from the approved iTruckStore. But then again ... they really do make the best adapters; and the door is on the bottom!! *mind blown*

-- sent from my S3 --

Re:Google Voice call screening (5, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year ago | (#42753603)

The problem is the law. There are so many loopholes in it...

Actually, if you look in the summary, that's exactly not what the FTC found. All of the loopholes are legal ways for companies to call you that are still not desired by the recipient. But the majority of robocalls, it says, are illegal. Meaning they're not driving through loopholes, they're just ignoring the law.

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42753635)

Or how they disguise their sales pitch as a "survey" to use THAT loophole.

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753707)

Actually, a snail mail advert is not enough to trigger the "relationship" required by the law.
While the political calls are exempt, telling the politicos NOT to call again usually works. (This does mean that you have to wait and talk with a human.)

My father would wait until the end and talk with a human. He would act interested and spend 15 to 20 minutes talking with them. (Part of his job was repetitive tasks and he would do this while on the phone.) After getting the humans all hyped up over an "impending" sale, he would ask, "I can pay for this with food stamps, right?". He would be disconnected and never receive a call again from that robo-human.

Re:Google Voice call screening (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753783)

Better yet, agree to the sale.
Then once they get you one the phone with the person who takes your credit card info, hang up. This will result in a cost to the call center and the agent who called you will get reprimanded for the failed conversion.

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

InterGuru (50986) | about a year ago | (#42753967)

Even better, string them along and give them a fake credit card number (The first 4 digits must be from a real number). When that fails, give them another fake number. When that fails express surprise that they keep calling back in spite of giving fake numbers on previous calls.

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754291)

The law is working 100% as intended.

Re:Google Voice call screening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754301)

What I find most annoying is that charities have picked up on this. They now go through a third party to contact. The third party is the one who has done business with you so then they can contact you about anything else. I've stopped giving to any charity that uses a third party to solicit donations.

Re:Google Voice call screening (1)

ancientt (569920) | about a year ago | (#42754351)

I find it interesting that there have been so many replies to this suggestion and all of them are ignoring it. Google Voice does indeed rock. I have an interface where I can schedule how I'm going to respond or which phones I'll take calls on. There is an anti-spam caller option which is very effective. I can set my default to have callers announce who they are before I take the call. I can block callers I don't want to talk to, or send calls to voicemail and listen in and pick up if they turn out to be offering something I legitimately want to talk with them about. I can record calls immediately and it stores voicemails and texts virtually forever.

Google voice pretty much does EXACTLY what needs to be done to completely eliminate unwanted callers. The only way I can think of to make it better is for every phone company to adopt a similar system. Ideally, I'd like to see the personal phone number become one that can ONLY be called by government agencies or your phone service provider and all other calls be required to go through a person's public phone number that works like Google Voice.

Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (4, Insightful)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year ago | (#42753491)

Or maybe just actually investigate consumer complaints.

Re:Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (3, Informative)

The Moof (859402) | about a year ago | (#42753901)

This is probably the best suggestion. If you ever have reported robocalls, you know that they refuse to investigate the complaint unless you appeal the initial "nothing to see here, move along citizen" cookie cutter response.

Re:Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#42754179)

Motherfucker! You tell me this now?

I reported a spate of them a while back. When every single one of them came back with one of those responses, I just cursed the FCC and trashed the whole issue. I didn't even realize I could appeal!

Re:Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#42753979)

They do investigate consumer complaints, which is why one of the major companies running the "Rachel from Cardholder Services" scam got caught.

Re:Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#42754071)

I think we just found a use for Camp X-Ray over in Gitmo....

Re:Actually USE all your wiretapping crap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754205)

Start a fund, collect millions of dollars, fly the FTC head to Jamaica for a round of "golf" and "dinner", slip 'em an "donation" of cash and ask to end robocalls. Done.

Hi, this is Rachel from Cardholder Services... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753503)

There are currently no problems with your account...

(Was 'summary execution' one of the options? Because that's still too good for some of the more egregious offenders...)

Re:Hi, this is Rachel from Cardholder Services... (1)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about a year ago | (#42753551)

Amazingly enough, when I hang on long enough past recorded "Rachel" to get to live "Rachel", and ask her nicely to put me on their do-not-call list, she rudely and peremptorily hangs up!

Re:Hi, this is Rachel from Cardholder Services... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753607)

They stopped calling me, otherwise I would play dumb, and go along with it, and right before they got the stuff they were after...

Oh crap I have to go, house is on fire! Can I get a number to call you back?

If I get it, BOOM. $16,000 courtesy of an FCC fine...

Chris Pirillo a.k.a Lockergnome tactics :) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753869)

Re:Chris Pirillo a.k.a Lockergnome tactics :) (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42754297)

Says right there on the youtube:

Please don't watch this video. Don't send it to your friends to watch, either? Don't even leave a comment. It's just a sad waste of time.

Too bad... (1)

docmordin (2654319) | about a year ago | (#42753507)

Too bad the FTC just can't apply for an overly broad patent and sue all of the automated callers in the Eastern District of Texas.

Leave a fax machine plugged in during the day. (4, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#42753543)

This works well for land lines. The calls stop. On my cell, it hasn't been much of a problem.

Re:Leave a fax machine plugged in during the day. (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#42753989)

Until the FAX spammers find you. Then you will start getting random calls from FAX machines at all times of day.

Re:Leave a fax machine plugged in during the day. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#42754255)

Better to have a modem with some obnoxious BBS software behind.

In one way - the best way is to have an answering machine saying "Please hold - your call will be answered in a moment" but then you just don't provide more and don't hang up until later. That will keep the robocall line blocked longer.

Old technology, useful only for thieves... (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#42753557)

Why not get rid of robocalling altogether? These are not the days where it was difficult to get the word out to the public for fundraising or other reasons. The reason that robocalls are increasingly made up of scammer activities is that legitimate uses of the technology have gone elsewhere, to email or other online methods which are far cheaper and which leverage existing multipurpose infrastructure...and which, unlike telephone-based communications, also provides for more robust metrics regarding responses.

Re:Old technology, useful only for thieves... (2)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year ago | (#42753625)

Why not get rid of robocalling altogether?

In what sense? Make it illegal entirely? As TFS says, they're focusing on people who are already robocalling illegally. Making it illegal probably won't stem that much.

Or are you suggesting somehow implementing a CAPTCHA in the telephone system?

Re:Old technology, useful only for thieves... (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42754183)

Wrong first question.

Why not get rid of the telephone network?

Go entirely IP based.

Re:Old technology, useful only for thieves... (1)

ancientt (569920) | about a year ago | (#42754241)

If all robocalling were made illegal and phone companies were compelled to provide a reporting option that was useable to law enforcement, then you might have a point.

However, there are a couple robocall uses that are legal that I appreciate. A local school uses it to notify parents of unusual situations, like going on lock down or closing for inclement weather. I believe some cities use robocalling to warn residents of tornado dangers.

Who's dropping the ball? (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42753577)

I'd really like to know why there's so much !@#$ like this going on. Spammers pollute the net with crap, and we can't find them to make them stop. Assholes build botnets to do that and worse, and we can't find them to make them stop. Robocallers annoy millions of people daily wasting their cell minutes, and ...

This's the 21st Century. Why is any of this still happening? Why can't/don't the telcos police their damned networks?

Re:Who's dropping the ball? (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42753683)

The feds and ISP's are too busy busting kids for downloading movies in their dorm rooms.

Re:Who's dropping the ball? (1)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#42753825)

I'd really like to know why there's so much !@#$ like this going on.

Its called step 3: profit.

Re:Who's dropping the ball? (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | about a year ago | (#42754049)

There's more than one country involved.

Canada isn't terribly concerned when robocallers are calling US phone numbers. Mostly because the US isn't terribly concerned when robocallers are calling Canadian phone numbers.

Re:Who's dropping the ball? (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#42754127)

Why can't/don't the telcos police their damned networks?

Because they qualify for Common Carrier status and will not jeopardize there legal indemnification.

Block calls with spoofed ID ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42753595)

Somewhere along the line, it must be technically possible to identify that the number isn't coming from where it claims to be.

Most of the obvious fraudulent crap is all using fake caller IDs and they're calling another country.

If I could simply tell the phone company that I'm not willing to accept numbers which don't match their origin, that would kill off all of the crap I get. And I don't care about the legitimate ones, because by masking their real phone number they're no better than the scammers.

Unfortunately, these guys lobby hard enough that they make sure nobody could pass anything which cut into their business -- because they feel it's their legitimate right to call us.

It's gotten to the point where even the ones with legal exemptions like charities and political parties usually get an earful of profanity.

Re:Block calls with spoofed ID ... (0)

emho24 (2531820) | about a year ago | (#42753799)

If I could simply tell the phone company that I'm not willing to accept numbers which don't match their origin, that would kill off all of the crap I get. And I don't care about the legitimate ones, because by masking their real phone number they're no better than the scammers.

This. +1 pseudo mod point.

Re:Block calls with spoofed ID ... (1)

unrtst (777550) | about a year ago | (#42754345)

If I could simply tell the phone company that I'm not willing to accept numbers which don't match their origin, that would kill off all of the crap I get. And I don't care about the legitimate ones, because by masking their real phone number they're no better than the scammers.

This. +1 pseudo mod point.

No No No. It's a non-starter. That ability doesn't exist due to the design of the phone system. The only known hop is the one immediately before you.

Someday, hopefully, that'll all get replaced because the resulting routing due to costs (LCR) + wholesale voip + intra/inter state taxes and termination fees etc etc etc ends up being horribly inefficient. Routing over pure voip would be far more efficient as far as the routes and miles of cables and number of routers/switches/etc involved, even if it does chew up more bandwidth for the same quality.

If you want what you're describing, you'll have to move to an entirely different system. Maybe something like 100% skype and deny all landline access to it.

It's sad, but attacking this issue after the fact is the only possibility right now (ie. after an infringement has happened, then attack it). They can track down these people, especially because these outfits are not just going after a single recipient - they're always calling many people. They (FTC) just have to do it.

Re:Block calls with spoofed ID ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753809)

I think the best case would be to get rid of POTS.

The fact that the end point does not know who is actually calling is a major flaw.

Re:Block calls with spoofed ID ... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#42754175)

The caller ID is set by the endpoint making the call. This information, along with the billed number is sent upstream. The local phone company strips the billed number when the call leaves their system. It would be trivial to send both to the far endpoint. Then re-design caller-id to capture both and display only caller ID. Someone could get the billed number by selecting the alternate number on their caller ID. You don't want to send billed ID only, because places like my work send 555-1212 for my DID and 555-0000 is my billed number. If my boss is calling, I want to be able to see whether it's 555-1214 or 555-1200, a coworker.

Re:Block calls with spoofed ID ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753833)

I don't want political parties or charities calling me either. The fastest way to get on my "do not give money to ever" list is to call me.

Seriously, why does "Save the Puppies" and "Elect My Candidate" get to be except from the Do Not Call Registry? Just because you think your puppies are special? They aren't and I don't care about them. I'm sure "Buy My Awesome Vacuum" also thinks they are special and if they could just get me on the phone I would see that I really do want to buy their vacuum. Well, no I really don't. Charities and political parties are the same as salesmen. They all want me to give them money and none of them realize I don't care about them.

If I wanted to save the puppies, I could find your address on google and mail you a check. Just like if I wanted a new vacuum. Don't call me.

Presumably one of the was Real Time Blacklisting (2)

sam_vilain (33533) | about a year ago | (#42753599)

If there was a widely publicized shortcode you could text with a number to say has been spam calling you then people could do that, and set up an ENUM–style directory which has the RBL info for use by phone companies.

Also phone companies could text people with information about this shortcode the first time every month that a previously unknown number makes a call or sends a message (until they say STOP of course ;-))

Might work for mobile spam, at least.

Re:Presumably one of the was Real Time Blacklistin (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year ago | (#42754139)

So, *86?

Robo lawsuit trolling (3, Interesting)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#42753605)

I've arrived at the point where I hate my land line. I'd drop it in a second but my wife thinks it's important. None of our friends or family ever call the land line, it's always trolls. I dunno.

But I digress. I had a new one last night. My land line rings and I can't help myself, I need to see what asshole it is this time. I've been getting a lot of survey calls recently and I'm now openly hostile to them "get a real job, f-ck off". This time it's a robocall collecting names for a class action lawsuit against a medicine. "Have you ever taken whateveritscalled and experienced the following side effects? Blah Blah Blah. If so you are entitled to receive penies on the dollar while our bloodsucking ambulance chasers get rich"

So now we have lawsuit trolling to look forward to.

Re:Robo lawsuit trolling (1)

stacycakes (2822821) | about a year ago | (#42753819)

I always get so annoyed when a robocaller happens to get a hold of my cell phone number. I never have the time to listen to the entire recording but at the same time I feel like getting to the end and asking them to take me off the list is the only way to stop the harassment. I'll be happy when they actually figure out a way to get these to stop. Hope one of the 744 new ideas works!

Re:Robo lawsuit trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753931)

Was that pennies on the dollar or penis on the dollar? Could make a big difference for some.

Re:Robo lawsuit trolling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753953)

Turn the ringer off, and don't hook up an answering machine or voicemail. It's still available for an emergency, or to make local and toll-free calls (if conserving cell minutes is a concern).

Re:Robo lawsuit trolling (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#42754105)

I've arrived at the point where I hate my land line. I'd drop it in a second but my wife thinks it's important.

Grow a pair and cancel it. Duh.

"Sorry honey, but we waste way too much money on a useless, obsolete service that no one but fraudsters ever uses. In a local emergency, our cell phones have a better chance of working than the land line; and in a wide-scale emergency, you can't use the land-line from the car as we flee the coming Tsunami."

Permission (1)

mepex (687816) | about a year ago | (#42753609)

I understood this as the FTC getting ideas that only they could read write and execute, while I could only read.

Why I got rid of the land line (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42753617)

It also helps to never give out your cell # except to friends and family. I found that a lot of the businesses I was giving my phone number to were somehow passing it along to telemarketers (I could tell because sometimes I would vary my name slightly just to see).

Re:Why I got rid of the land line (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753835)

That is why businesses get my google voice number.

Re:Why I got rid of the land line (3, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#42754075)

It also helps to never give out your cell # except to friends and family. I found that a lot of the businesses I was giving my phone number to were somehow passing it along to telemarketers (I could tell because sometimes I would vary my name slightly just to see).

I ditched my land line a few years ago, but even my cell number wasn't immune. I'd still get calls from "Rachel" and her friends, not to mention "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!!!! This is your captain speaking . . ." [wafflesatnoon.com]

Worse, by far were the debt collectors calling for people I'd never heard of -- or even not asking for anyone in particular, just wanting a return call to some number to "clear up a file on my desk". Then if I did call them back and tell them they had the wrong guy, sometimes they'd stop for a while -- at least till that junk debt collector resold the debt to another.

It wasn't all bad. One agency had a particularly entertaining tactic: each week or so a different person would leave a message. Since it was always the same voice actor, he had to use different names with appropriate accents for each persona. My favorite was fake Scotsman Alistair McTavish.

Curiously, it seems that while people who do owe money have certain rights when dealing with collections agencies, people who don't actually owe money don't seem to have quite the same level of protection from harassment. You'd think that harassing non-debtors would be a self-limiting thing, since you (presumably) couldn't collect anything from someone without an overdue debt, but they were oddly persistent.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753629)

Every week I get several calls telling me "this is your last chance to lower my interest rates" or "related to the stimulus" or something. Caller ID is useless, all spoofed. The message says "Press 2 to discontinue these messages" - works for a day, maybe. Press 1 and get to a live person (eventually). If I ask any questions, like "who are you" or tell them to stop calling, they hang up. A day or two later, they're back.

What I need is an app with automated responses to their canned question so my machine can waste their human's time...and lots of it.

Google: "Roy M. Cox and FTC" - If it isn't his operation, its a twin.

Re:Finally! (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#42754169)

Astrix VOIP PBX with the call block function. They dont change the caller ID much so you just block the calling party and you are good for several months. Setting the block message to play the "Number has been disconnected or is no longer in service" message helps as many of them remove the number when getting that message.

Re:Finally! (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a year ago | (#42754353)

You can easily do this with a voice-enabled modem and getty on linux. I used to use my box for a PBX-maze to throw off everyone but family. The 256 "extensions" and options would piss off everyone except those who knew what buttons to push in order to actually reach me. Everything else was piped to /dev/null so I never had to hear any of it.

The list didn't include (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753647)

Executions. Make it a capital crime.

Easy solution (4, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#42753649)

Follow the money trail. Once you know what company is getting the money, find out who owns the company.

Once you find out who owns the company, you shoot them.

Problem solved.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753755)

ah yes you "follow the money" retards who have watched too many hollywood conspiracy movies and think that's how real life works ... unfortunately for your simplistic paranoid armchair solution, in real life simply identifying who is making robocalls is a problem

additionally getting effective laws passed to combat other sorts of (semi-legal) spam calls is stymied by lobbies who have to disclose nothing ... unlike the movies it's not as simple as bringing up the "hack in" screen and pressing "OK" ... and even if it were getting the information legally is necessary if you want to do anything with it

but i'm sure the free market will solve everything

idiots

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753865)

ah yes you "follow the money" retards who have watched too many hollywood conspiracy movies and think that's how real life works ... unfortunately for your simplistic paranoid armchair solution, in real life simply identifying who is making robocalls is a problem

additionally getting effective laws passed to combat other sorts of (semi-legal) spam calls is stymied by lobbies who have to disclose nothing ... unlike the movies it's not as simple as bringing up the "hack in" screen and pressing "OK" ... and even if it were getting the information legally is necessary if you want to do anything with it

but i'm sure the free market will solve everything

idiots

Well, you do have to wait for the "Uploading Virus" counter to reach 100%.......

Re:Easy solution (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753883)

Someone is connecting these calls right?
Someone is paying a bill to make them, seems like you could figure that out.

The fact that POTS lets you fake a number is a big problem with it. The fact that the endpoints have no knowledge is another.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754185)

afaik POTS doesn't care about your number, and if these originate offshore then you're almost entirely SOL ... for everything else, a few shell companies and accounting tricks and it's probably not hard to hide who owns what

even if it's easy and you (the FCC) wants to know/prosecute, they need funding, and a legal way to get the information they're after, which probably requires political capital (to get funding), laws that make a warrant applicable, legal proof someone was making the call (probably hard), and enough lawyers and time to pursue prosecution ... and how many of these companies are there?

make funding a little thin or apply a little political pressure in the FCC foodchain and none of this is going to happen, even if they know who is doing it

that's why all these "follow the money" hollywood antics are so idiotic

Re:Easy solution (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about a year ago | (#42753847)

Unfortunately, if there's money to be made, there's going to be someone there to make it. So shut down the current company doing it, and another one will step right in. The only real way to make it go away forever is to make it unprofitable.

Re:Easy solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753925)

I think that is why the recommended punishment was to shoot them.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754253)

Finally, a use for drone strikes!

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754263)

i would just send robocop.

Asterisk (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753651)

I solve this problem by having asterisk prescreen all incoming calls. An IVR prompt requires you to press a combination of numbers before it actually rings any phones. A white and black list for caller ID data are used to bypass or simply play line disconnected tones and hang up.

It's the only reason I still have a POTS line. I never give out my cell.

Re:Asterisk (1)

Miser (36591) | about a year ago | (#42754045)

I second the mentioning of Asterisk.

I use the FreePBX distro at home, used an old PIII machine I had laying around, one FXO/FXS card later and I have a nice whitelist that will ring my extension or my wife's SIP desk phone. Anybody else not on the whitelist gets an IVR asking to dial the proper extension, and then when that doesn't happen, goes to general voicemail. Works wonderfully and the phone never rings. When it does, we get nervous because it's someone important!

I also use the whitelist as a blacklist to blackhole, disconnect tones, hold music forever, busy, etc folks that I like to toy with.

Plus, if someone faxes me, it PDF's it automatically and emails it to me. I've been wanting to upgrade but it's working so well I don't want to fix what isn't broke!!

Cheers,

Miser

Re:Asterisk (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#42754207)

So there are two of us who have found the same solution.

A+, it has been working for me for a couple of years now.

No Enforcement (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#42753685)

Any law that is not enforced is meaningless. And that's the big problem here. If I get one of these calls that is clearly violating the law, then what? There is no one I can can contact who will immediately take action and prosecute the person who is breaking the law. It would take an enormous amount of resources to really clean up this problem, and so nothing is done. And the people making these calls know that.

call rejection (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42753743)

Phone companies should be required to provide Anonymous call rejection and toll free call rejection. This would solve the problem. The subscriber should have the option to divert these calls to voicemail or reject them outright.

The only issue here is that phone companies refuse to enact these simple and common sense solutions. They either refuse to allow the subscriber to manage call, as is true for most cell phones, or they charge for it. Really this is a business model issue, not something the end user can deal with. The FTC just has to put forth regulations.

Re:call rejection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753909)

Phone companies should be required to provide Anonymous call rejection and toll free call rejection. This would solve the problem. The subscriber should have the option to divert these calls to voicemail or reject them outright.

The only issue here is that phone companies refuse to enact these simple and common sense solutions. They either refuse to allow the subscriber to manage call, as is true for most cell phones, or they charge for it. Really this is a business model issue, not something the end user can deal with. The FTC just has to put forth regulations.

Vonage offers both Anonymous and toll free rejection or diverting them to voicemail.
For free.

Re:call rejection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754113)

You really want to end that shit in a jiff? Pass a law that lets consumers off the hook for cell phone airtime that originates from callers they do not authorize to call them. If there was zero liability for fraud phone calls like there is for fraudulent credit card charges, the telcos would have systems in place to catch the scammers robbing them of revenue. As long as the scammers are generating revenue, the telco has zero motivation to do anything about it.

It's not really an FTC problem (1)

SSpade (549608) | about a year ago | (#42753745)

The FTC aren't in a position to really handle robocalls and SMS spam, other than acting as a last resort legal hammer for egregious cases.

The telcos, on the other hand, could *trivially* stop the vast majority of it if they had any interest in doing so. But they don't have any interest in that - they get paid by the various crooks doing this sort of thing. And it doesn't cost them any customers - what are the customers going to do, move to a different US telco that's just as bad?

Re:It's not really an FTC problem (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753999)

Why as a last resort for only the egregious cases?
Any case they should prosecute as fiercely as possible.

I actually submitted a proposal (2)

indraneil (1011639) | about a year ago | (#42753761)

Our submission is at: http://robocall.challenge.gov/submissions/13007-save-me-time [challenge.gov]
I found that most suggestions fell into the following buckets

*Things the Govt can do*
- FTC needs to ensure caller ID cant be spoofed
- FBI needs to hunt down the racketeers and bust them
- FTC needs to mandate (likely by fiat) that the telephone companies make the robocallers pay the full cost for the call

*Things you can do*
- Use an audio capcha system
- Provide a system to black list known and irritating callers
- A few people discussed how Google voice might solve the problem.

I did not expect to see that many people going through the submission process which tells me that the pain point is real.
However, I think people are mostly converging on how they intend to block the calls and the winner will get decided on how good your execution measures up to every one else.
What FTC finally does implement based on the contest is another matter.

just pass a law (2)

bbeesley (2709435) | about a year ago | (#42753767)

Can't Congress just pass a law prohibiting this like they are doing with guns and murder?

Re:just pass a law (1)

edibobb (113989) | about a year ago | (#42753821)

They already have. But law enforcement refuses to enforce it, citing "lack of resources", i.e., "we want more money."

Re:just pass a law (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year ago | (#42754125)

Whooooosh

Re:just pass a law (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | about a year ago | (#42754131)

There's also a large jurisdiction problem.

US law enforcement can't arrest people in Canada, despite the fact that the US and Canada share the same phone system.

(Btw, the Canadians are upset by the robocalls coming from the US)

Meh (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about a year ago | (#42753771)

Examples listed are all variations on a theme. All technical solutions, which are always known to fall to technical attacks (Payment? Use stolen credit card. Whitelist? Implausible if you're running a home business.)

The only way to stop robocall telemarketing is to cut off the source of income, or make it too expensive to obtain income. Always try to get a live agent (robocalls ask you to press 1), delay tactics to keep people talking as long as possible, providing fake/stolen credit card info, and the like.

I just hang up (0)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42753793)

If I'm called by an automated dialler from a party I have no involvement with, then the damage is already done. I hang up as soon as I realize it's a recording, which is usually only a second or two after I say "hello".

They've already wasted my time by calling me... and with an automated call, I'm not wasting anyone's time by trying to stay on the line and see how quickly I can get the salesperson off of their script (which is a very entertaining activity, by the way, and one that I highly recommend, although you really need to have some good ideas before you start, or else be very good at improv).

They're not untracable. (1)

edibobb (113989) | about a year ago | (#42753803)

If Homeland Security, et.al., can eavesdrop on any phone call in the U.S. at will, they can certainly track illegal Robocallers. Do they just refuse to do anything that could be considered productive?

Re:They're not untracable. (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | about a year ago | (#42754165)

They do track the calls. To Canada.

That "different country" thing makes it a tad awkward to enforce US law upon the robocallers.

And since the robocallers are nothing if not fair, the Canadians are upset about robocalls coming from the US.

Change your country to one where laws are enforced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753849)

Or make *yours* do the same. I expect this is US-centric again.

Write your congressmen. Protest. Don't let them into the bitches of business... wait, you DID let them happen? Then get up and protest. Write letters. Start campaigns. Be loud. You are the freaking Land of the Free and Brave, the inventors of Democracy, yes? Then act like it, get a few million citizens together, rally the media, and in 12 months that crap is over.

Don't let your government kill another brown person in some faraway country before you quit getting robocalls.

Cant stop the Robocaller (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#42753897)

I am constantly getting robocalls from "Card Services" at the phone number 775-410-1104. I haven't ever owned a credit card. I've tried my best to try and get information so that I can do something about it, but they hang up as soon as they think you are on to them. You can't call the number back. Is there anyway to nail this entity?

Re:Cant stop the Robocaller (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42754191)

Call "Magic Jack" and report the number to them (seems to be in their pool), or call the police? (wait, no, they don't do shit until after you fall for a scam). They try to get your card number and expiration date "just for verification".

Protip: Caller ID can also be spoofed. NEVER give any information to anyone who calls you, unless you know them personally. Even if it says that it's your bank on the caller ID. Just tell them that you have no way of knowing if they are who they say they are, and that you'll call back the bank via a number that you have for them.

Re:Cant stop the Robocaller (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754195)

Yes. Just accept the offer, get the credit card, then run it up to its limit and don't pay anything back.

You'll need to fake a SS#. Don't use the same one each time. Use your address but a different name, and keep a burner phone around to use to confirm you received the card. Give them that number.

I've done this for years, I have a steady "income" now of about $78,000 a year thanks to these credit card "offers". One day they'll catch on and stop calling me.

Re:Cant stop the Robocaller (1)

davidannis (939047) | about a year ago | (#42754245)

No, but you can waste their time every time that they call. The reason that they robocall is that it is cheap. Just string them along so that they have to pay a person for the time to talk to you. Ask which cards they will take. Ask if you can roll in your home loan. Ask them to wait while you look up your balances. After a while they get wise and hang up on you. If enough people waste their time eventually they will go broke. Needless to say never actually give them an account number.

Re:Cant stop the Robocaller (1)

gQuigs (913879) | about a year ago | (#42754273)

I mean the article is about how they aren't doing a great job right now.... but you can still report it here:
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ [ftccomplai...istant.gov]

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753899)

The have had decades to help us resolve the issue, but haven't. Clearly the FCC is not on our side. We have come up with our own solution.

1. Unplug all phones from land line if you have Internet over it, and completely remove land line if not.

2. Use a white list on your cell phone. If anybody calls that you do not, just BLOCK the number, and delete any message left without listening to it. If you listen to it, the person that left it will be able to tell if you received it or not. Give them NO INFORMATION.

Do those two things and most problems are solved. Some will argue that they need to be able to get ahold of you. I say, they should have done a better job of protecting your personal information, and following the spirit of the law.

Re:BS (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#42754257)

Robocallers are generating numbers at random, now. They just want to call everyone. They are not basing this on collected personal information, anymore. Just crank out the calls and play the recording.

Smartphone auto-screener (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about a year ago | (#42754061)

Why aren't there any smartphone auto-screening apps available? Maybe they'd need a rooted phone to operate, but basically, they could intercept phone calls and let numbers on a whitelist through, auto-hang-up on blacklist numbers, and send greylist numbers to a skill-testing screening question asking them to enter, for example, the sum of 8 and 10 using touch tone digits, to prove that they are actual people. Auto-dialers wouldn't do this and thus, wouldn't bother you. The skill test could be more sophisticated or could even use voice recognition. The calls that don't get through never bother you, except showing up in screener statistics when you want to look at them.

Summary execution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42754119)

And if they are outside of the US, we have drones.

Just Whistle (1)

Marrow (195242) | about a year ago | (#42754129)

Just like there was a "Captain Crunch" guy that could whistle at certain tones, why cant a group of "trusted parties" have
a special audio signaler that sends a signal -back- to the originator of the call. This signal could be heard by the phone
companies and they would know what circuit has the mad dial-er on it.

Just an idea.

Loud whistle (1)

smartin (942) | about a year ago | (#42754213)

Somewhere there is a story about someone that actually got charged with blowing a loud whistle into the ear of a telemarketer. I think this was before it was actually illegal for them to call. Now that it is, it is really tempting to do. And no, I don't care about the poor underpaid schmuck on the other end of the line, they deserve what they get.

Easy (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#42754303)

Tell the govt, police to start doing their jobs. What are we paying them for?

The one thing which really scares crooks is a decent chance of facing serious jail time. I'd imagine that in the US, the significant chance of getting raped in county/medium security prisons too, is a good deterrent -- so you want to put them in county jail with the gangbangers and meth heads, not the minimum security holiday farm. As the Chinese say, "kill the chicken to warn the monkeys".

Once some of the big players see what they're up against, it puts the fear of God into all the other little crooks and chancers.

Why isn't the Gov. using CFAA (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#42754335)

Why isn't the government using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to arrest and prosecute these criminals like they did Aaron Schwartz? Schwartz didn't actually hurt anyone or do any damage but robo-calls do annoy people. They must be using some kind of computer to make the calls so the Act would apply if the government was serious about the issue.
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