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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Stop a Debt Collection Scam From Targeting You?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the have-you-considered-just-going-into-debt? dept.

Communications 497

An anonymous reader writes "I'm currently being targeted by an overseas debt collection scam. My landline rings every 10-15 minutes all day every day. I considered getting a blacklisting device to block the incoming calls, but the call center spoofs a different number on my caller ID each time, and it's gotten to the point where I've just unplugged the phones. I'm already on the Do No Call Registry and have filed a complaint with the FTC. Aside from ditching my landline, changing my number, and/or blowing a whistle into the receiver anytime I actually pick up, are there any real solutions out there? Has anybody had luck with a blacklisting device?"

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Need more information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507841)

What kind of clever comebacks and/or tactics have you tried on the scammers to make yourself not worth the time?

Re:Need more information (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45507899)

What does Caller ID tell you? You mention that the caller routes through various numbers, but do those numbers have something in common? Find that common denominator, and block it. I make almost zero international calls, so if I were getting calls from southeast Asia, I think that I would just block any calls from southeast Asia. Or, are they routing through South America on one call, then through eastern Europe on the next? Is Caller ID capable of distinguishing the country and/or region of origin?

Re:Need more information (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45507989)

These people often use Magic Jack or other VOIP based calling options so they do not appear to be international.

Re:Need more information (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#45508229)

Caller ID is a garbage in/out system it take whatever arbitrary info the caller sends and spits it back out. This is for anything more modern than old school PSTN analog interface.

Re:Need more information (4, Funny)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a year ago | (#45508031)

I listen politely, then try to sell them my products ( if you want to take a look). I actually sold an Antbot this way once. It does work.

Re:Need more information (3, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45508113)

Yes, the solution to this is witty ripostes! Shame them! Make them feel bad!

Fax machine (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507845)

Plug in a fax machine.
If they're using anything decent it will detect the fax signal and remove you from the calling.

Re:Fax machine (5, Informative)

Deathlizard (115856) | about a year ago | (#45507973)

Setting your answering machine to 6 rings seems to work for us. they usually stop after the 4th ring and flag the number as dead since they assume everybody has an answering machine.

Another option is to use a thrid party call screener like nomorobo or Google Voice, but I've never tried those so YMMV.

Re:Fax machine (4, Informative)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#45508309)

Or if you want, on fourth ring play SIT tones. Some of the robo-dialers recognize that as number out of service too.

fwd ur number (5, Interesting)

schlachter (862210) | about a year ago | (#45508171)

temporarily forward your number to another debt collection agency. let them battle it out.
let ur friends know to contact u via your cell in the interim.

Re:Fax machine (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45508233)

Plug in a fax machine. If they're using anything decent it will detect the fax signal and remove you from the calling.

A good idea in theory, but not in practice. They don't remove your number when detecting a fax machine at first. It takes multiple attempts; as you said, if they're using anything decent... then they know you're a residential line, and if they have no other phone number, it'll typically assume it's a dual-purpose line and keep you on the list.

These robo-dialers are listening for particular frequencies that are in the human vocal range -- that's why when you pick up and say hello there's a slight pause. That's because it is routing it to a person... they know that, say, only 1 in 50 will pickup, so they make 50 calls whenever someone becomes available.. and route the 1 that answers to the available rep.

Hanging a fax machine off the line will keep it from going to a person, but it won't get you dropped from the list; not if it's a residential line. now if it's your work phone... it'll probably do the job quite nicely.

Ummm... (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year ago | (#45507851)

I'm already on the Do No Call Registry and have filed a complaint with the FTC.

Why would an overseas debt collector care about the Do Not Call list that is only enforceable within the US?

Aside from ditching my landline, changing my number, and/or blowing a whistle into the receiver anytime I actually pick up, are there any real solutions out there? Has anybody had luck with a blacklisting device?"

Can you not simply block international calls? Do you routinely get calls from people overseas that it would matter?

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507897)

Overseas scammers spoof the caller ID or use various internal US VOIP services. You can't block them.

Re:Ummm... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#45507919)

Unfortunately due to the way the telecoms system is set up, if you control your own CLID then you can set any number you want to be displayed at the other end, which means you can mask international origins. Also, there are many many ways for an overseas call centre to have an origin point from within a specific country (its a lot cheaper to do VOIP internationally and then go legacy at the final few hops).

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507993)

Play a super high sonic pitch into their headset, works for me!

Re:Ummm... (1)

fisted (2295862) | about a year ago | (#45508057)

doesn't even pass the encoding stage

landline? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507853)

what's a landline?

Re:landline? (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45508023)

For purposes of this story, a landline is a phone shared by all residents of a single-family dwelling. In the United States, landlines offered unlimited minutes to local and toll-free numbers long before cell phones did.

Re:landline? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508291)

For the record, "who still has a landline?" is the appropriate comment. "What's a landline?" just makes you look like an ignorant child.

Pay the debt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507855)

But then again, "don't pay the dane gold".

Re:Pay the debt (4, Interesting)

KitFox (712780) | about a year ago | (#45508009)

Though the OP didn't state such, there is a rise of debt collection scams, eg, there is no real debt. It's just a matter of harass somebody using debt collection tactics until they give you money. It's criminal action, by the way, but doesn't garner much attention from the law enforcement because it's so difficult and costly to track. The fake collections agencies are basically using legitimate collections "tools" illegally.

Paying the fictitious debt is actually the worst thing one can do, since it simply causes you to be marked as a hitable target and thus escalates the situation.

Re:Pay the debt (5, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45508169)

The main reason for this is how unrestricted the legitimate debt collectors are. When there is an unchallenged predator in any environment, there will always be those trying to masquerade as one. The only way to stop this is to make it illegal to have debt collectors outside of the jurisdiction of the callee. But that's not going to happen. Local police can always verify that a certain so-and-so is a private detective. Why shouldn't they be able to verify that a certain so-and-so is a legitimate debt collector? As it stands, even the mob can get into this business. As long as the callers are outside of the jurisdiction, there is no way to challenge them in case of abuse. This is why many people feel vulnerable enough to submit to such scams.

what can it filter on? (2)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year ago | (#45507857)

If they are spoofing ANL data what criteria will be your blacklist be doing blocking by?

Time for a new phone Number

Re:what can it filter on? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508225)

Your telephone company is supposed to filter number blocks from incoming parties that can't be routing/announcing those blocks. If your phone company fails to do so, you can complain to them about their failure to bock obviously spoofed calls. It may not help a lot, but at least it's something you can hold up against them as a reason to file for damages and cancel your subscription.

Why not.. (5, Informative)

carbuck (1728596) | about a year ago | (#45507859)

...just change your number. I know you said you're looking for alternatives, but, if you have your phone unplugged already, then you're not able to receive calls. Unless you need to call out and have your number recognized, it might just be easier to change it. I'm not sure what sort of device will be able to blacklist random numbers without missing some calls that you actually want to receive.

Re:Why not.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507969)

Better to just dump the landline, and only use a cell phone. Then create a blacklist on the phone either using the blocked caller list, or a contact with a silent ringtone. I refuse to pick up for numbers I don't recognize, and I add them to the blacklist if they call more than twice without leaving a message or I identity it's a scam.

If it's necessary to keep the landline, then I agree just change the phone number.

You want a whitelisting device. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507863)

What you want is a whitelisting device, not a blacklisting device so that it rejects any number not part of your known contacts.

Hire someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507865)

Hire an intern that will take the calls and fill them with bullshit.

Re:Hire someone (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#45508093)

Yea but you are going to have to pay an intern at least minimum wage. Depending on what country they are calling from, it might be cheaper and more effective to hire a local hit-man.

Solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507869)

Pay yo' damn bills!

Re:Solution (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45508049)

That is naive. I've had people try to collect money for things that I did not owe. Which part of "scam" did you fail to understand? The "international" part should be a hint, at the least.

Re:Solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508099)

I understood perfectly. It was all a clever ruse, and I have ensared my first victim!

Whitelisting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507875)

You can get Whitelisting devices that only accept calls from known numbers. Alternately chnage the number to a premium rate and collect the money!

whitelist only (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507883)

port your number to a voip phone and use a whitelist only...

Screening your calls (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#45507885)

There are companies you can hire to screen your calls.
All your calls are forwarded to them and they'll answer the phone.
You give them instructions on how to handle your calls and they'll only pass through the calls that you want.

Re:Screening your calls (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#45507909)

..and that screening company will quickly drop him as a client

Might be worth a shot... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507887)

Maybe one of these might work:

find an old modem (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45507889)

put it on auto answer. preferably so that it doesn't hang up if it can't negotiate.

someone, somewhere, is paying for those calls somehow and this can maximize that and tie up maximum resources from the caller.

or an answering machine that has just "hello? helloo??".

obviously you aren't using the phoneline for anything now anyways..

Re:find an old modem (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about a year ago | (#45507967)

Doesn't the RECEIVER pay half the call cost in the US? Crazy system to me, but that's how I heard they do it...

Re:find an old modem (4, Informative)

ewieling (90662) | about a year ago | (#45507985)

Landlines do not normally pay to receive calls in the USA. Only cell phones and toll free numbers pay to receive calls.

Re:find an old modem (2)

BradMajors (995624) | about a year ago | (#45508123)

voip users also pay to receive calls.

Re:find an old modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508287)

Really? VOIP providers haven't set up shop in the rural areas there the operator on the receiving end is always paid, just like I'(m given to understand) conference services used to?

Re:find an old modem (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#45508003)

No calling party pays for long distance in the US, unless its a collect call. When its a collect call the operator (usually automated) calls and asks if your will accept. You might be thinking in terms of cellular in which case the called party is on the hook for the air time.

Re:find an old modem (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45508095)

I thought receiving cost only for calls received to mobiles since traditionally you couldn't distinguish a mobile number from a landline number so as a caller you had no idea how much it would have cost otherwise?(and this fun fact slowed mobile adoption to one of the slowest in the west but gave mobile companies the good way to herd their customers into thinking that 50-100 bucks per month plans are justifiable..).,

but I don't think it applies for landline. maybe for voip forward pseudo-landline deals though?

if the receivers paid for landline spam then there would be no end to spam calls...

also it might just be that the callcenter is using skype or similar callout and that uses different numbers from a pool. in that case every call they make does cost them money. if there's a way to call usa numbers without paying eventually please let me know :).

Re:find an old modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508105)

Receiving a call is pretty much always free unless the caller goes through the exercise of making a collect call and the callee confirms the charge.

BUT, this is distinct from airtime minutes. Cell phone plans typically charge by the minute, regardless of who made the call.

Back when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508091)

There used to be BBSes that shared the line with normal use. The trick was to call, have it ring twice, drop the call, call again. The software would suppress the first two rings and only pick up when rung up twice.

No reason why you couldn't do something similar for family and friends, and perhaps shunt the rest to an answering machine.

New program for you (1)

approachingZero (1365381) | about a year ago | (#45507891)

Exciting news just for you. For a limited time a select number of people will be accepted into this federally endorsed program that will protect you from all any any debt collection scams. No credit card needed, you will not be required to submit any personal information. Satisfaction guaranteed. Just send an email to and we will begin the process.

Really, I wish you the best of luck. I guess the best tactic you can use is hiding. It almost sounds like you have ticked off someone who is dedicated to making your life hell.

Is it really scam? (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#45507911)

Are you so sure its a scam? Are you sure you were the one being scammed? That sounds like an awful lot of persistence and effort for some confidence man to go thru.

I would think by now the nominal scam-er would have determined you are not being taken in by it and moved on to try their grift on some other mark.

If I were you I'd get a credit report and make sure someone had not stolen my identity and opened a bunch of other credit lines that these guys are now trying to collect on because some other fraudster used your name.

Re:Is it really scam? (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about a year ago | (#45507949)

The man may have an enemy. First get a police report. Get an unlisted number. If you can locate the source you may enjoy the fruit of a stunning law suit. Obviously it is an illegal operation as they can not call you more than once a day even if the debt is legitimate.

Re:Is it really scam? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45508047)

This is actually a very common scam. When my co-worker was having this problem I would google the number and there would be many websites with people complaining about it.

These people tend to live in nearly-third world conditions and work incredibly cheap so it is actually very worth their time.

Re:Is it really scam? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508109)

These people tend to live in nearly-third world conditions and work incredibly cheap so it is actually very worth their time.

It may be worth their time, but not their employer's money that has to pay for the long distance calls that don't produce results.

Don't hang up right away. Lead them on, string them along and make them waste money until their supervisor says, get this loser off the prospect list.

Re:Is it really scam? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45508193)


What I meant by it being worth their time was in regards to the person questioning if it was or was not a scam based on the effort the scammers are taking to scam. So yes it is worthwhile for them to attempt to scam people in general, but you can make it not worth their time to scam you in particular.

Re:Is it really scam? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45508213)

I don't think they're paying long distance.

but they're paying something regardless, but it's more likely whatever skypeout and similar services are charging.

Re:Is it really scam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508255)

Are you so sure its a scam? Are you sure you were the one being scammed? That sounds like an awful lot of persistence and effort for some confidence man to go thru.

Automated dialers make these calls and then if you answer the telephone the automated system hands-off the call to a human being in the call centre. Even charities are using these automated systems to harass donors for "special relieve programmes" whenever a natural disaster occurs somewhere in the world.

Re:Is it really scam? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508261)

Are you so sure its a scam? Are you sure you were the one being scammed? That sounds like an awful lot of persistence and effort for some confidence man to go thru.

It all depends on if these are real phone calls or robocalls.

Since this is originating from overseas I'm not sure there is anything that even law enforcement or the courts can do without engaging an overseas attorney and handling it though the country of origin (though overseas laws can be weird sometimes, scams like that might not even be illegal there).

Technical methods all depend on how many people normally call the affected household. There USED to be call screening devices that an inbound caller had to punch in a four digit code before the phone would even ring, but I haven't seen those for years. I myself just use an old fashioned answering machine on my landline and if the party on the other end does not identify themselves I just don't bother answering. But I have very few people that actually use the landline phone number anymore.

Leave the call open (5, Insightful)

smist08 (1059006) | about a year ago | (#45507921)

I tend to just answer, and then say "Just hold on a sec..." and then put the phone down and continue watching TV. Like someone else said that then costs them time/money. If my father in law is visiting, I just hand him the phone and he can tell stories from his childhood endlessly. He loves an audience.

Re:Leave the call open (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508001)


I have done this a bunch of times to great amusement. Leave it open for 3-4 minutes, then pick up and say "I geez, I forgot, sorry, let me get that statment (or whatever)..." Then put the phone down again. Call out to an imaginary spouse, and respond to their unheard questions a few times. Maybe make the doorbell ring...again, leave the call open a good ten minutes. Similar variations involve giving them the wrong card number or whatever, repeatedly. A great couple of hours fun can be had, all arranged around your own schedule, of course. Like the previous poster said, this costs them money.

Next few times they call (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507923)

1) "I'm going to send that RIGHT AWAY! Please give me your full name."

2) Put the phone down on the table, and go about your business.

3) Three minutes later, hang up the phone.

Whitelist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507927)

Whitelist important people in your life so that the phone rings when they call. Take all other calls on voicemail. Anyone who actually needs to contact you will be fine leaving a message.

Spoof the line as disconnected.. (3, Interesting)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | about a year ago | (#45507931)

Didn't some company come out with a device that would send out the tones that you get when you call a disconnected line? That way the auto-dialer that the scammers are using would mark the line as disconnected and stop calling. Or you could setup an answering machine to answer the line with those tones...

Re:Spoof the line as disconnected.. (2)

JLennox (942693) | about a year ago | (#45508119)

It's sometimes called "the triple tone." []

There's live samples that can be played there. IVR systems automatically detect the no circuit tones and removes or deprioritizes a number.

Playing the wikipedia sample by holding the phone to the PC speaker should be enough, I recon.

Re:Spoof the line as disconnected.. (3, Informative)

JLennox (942693) | about a year ago | (#45508145)

Pardon, you actually want the intercept, not no circuit, tone :)

Re:Spoof the line as disconnected.. (5, Interesting)

Telecommando (513768) | about a year ago | (#45508297)

I did this a few years ago when I had a similar problem with a collection agency that was looking for a former renter. I changed my answering machine message to the intercept tone sequence, followed by a scratchy message that sounded similar to the telco's automated message:

"We're sorry, your call cannot be answered at this time. Please check the number or contact the operator... (3 second delay) Or if you're a friend just leave a message at the beep." *BEEP*

My friends thought it was hilarious and the collectors usually hung up long before the part about leaving a message kicked in. It took a couple of months, but the calls finally stopped.

Now a friend of mine who was being harassed took a different track. He would answer the phone and listen politely to find out who they were looking for. Then he would start yelling at the collector, claiming he was owed a large sum of money from the same person. He would accuse them of being a friend of the debtor, demand they reveal where he was and threaten to sue them to get his money back. The calls stopped soon afterwards.

Your mileage may vary, etc. etc.

Verizon unlawful call center (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507933)

Debt collection calls are not considered unlawful, but constant calling all day and night might be considered a harassing call.

Might be worth a call to the unlawful call center. You will be expected to make legal charges and you will have to pay for a line trace fee, and all of this may be for nothing, but endless constant calls goes beyond what I would tolerate.

Answer the phone (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45507939)

Answer the phone. Find out who is calling. Tell them not to call you again. THEN you will have info to file a complaint.

Doctors (1)

TempleOS (3394245) | about a year ago | (#45507947)

I was hospitalized against my will. Of course I'm not paying for it.

Tie them up (4, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45507955)

I had a co-worker who was getting harassed on her work line from a fake money collection organization. So I started calling them, and calling them, and then they discontinued their number.

They then started calling her again a few months later and it took even less time for them to shut down that number.

As far as I know she hasn't had another call since.

Oh, and if at all possible try to figure out where they are calling from and try to use the differences in culture to insult them. Like calling them shoe lickers or something. Just calling them regular english put downs aren't as effective.

Also you may want to try the "why not do something better with your life" talk, after all a lot of times these people are better educated than many of their peers and could make a significant difference in their community if they weren't intent on trying to scam those rich dumb people from that rich dumb country.

Re:Tie them up (1)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#45508085)

Try religious based insults, blasphemy & co.

Re:Tie them up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508241)

... intent on trying to scam those rich dumb people from that rich dumb country.

Or simply tell them that thanks to the state of the economy you're no longer rich, and the country as a whole isn't as rich as it used to be.

DoS attack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507981)

This is an interesting if annoying form of Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

Google Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45507999)

I used Googled Voice a little bit while in the US.

I think it has features where you have to press a number for the call to go through. So you could just start using a Google Voice number that rings your real landline. For your old number to work, you could do something like this:

1. Get a 2nd landline. Private phone number, don't give it out.
2. Get a Google Voice number, route it to your new landline.
3. Route your current landline to the Google Voice number.
4. ??
5. Profit

Re:Google Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508035)

PS. Then give out your Google Voice number as your "new" number, while the old number still works for a month or two.

Re:Google Voice (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about a year ago | (#45508155)

You don't need a 2nd landline. A voip DID for $1 per month will work. If you only give your number to friends and family you will never receive telemarketer calls.

Charge them (1)

merovingi (1632365) | about a year ago | (#45508039)

Get them to start calling you on your "new" number which cost them a huge sum to call. Then put them "on hold" why you consult your finance department over the outstanding payments they keep calling you about.

Use modern communication technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508043)

The idea of a public numeric address that forwards all incoming communication to you, regardless of source, is an outdated approach in modern communication.

Instead of using voice phone services like people did in the 20th century, update to an authenticated system like Facebook or Skype where a pre-existing relationship must already exist. Or make it so your phone simply rejects all calls by default and white-list your contact list. Area codes can be used to deny huge swaths of the population as few people have legitimate communication coming in from more than a handful of area codes.

There's simply no good reason to ever receive an unsolicited call, whether it's a sales person, a debt collector, or pollster. Send that shit to /dev/null.

It all depends on the specifics of your communication habits. Asterisk will definitely do what you need it to, but it's probably overkill for most.

Annoy, annoy, annoy (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#45508063)

Try the whistle every time they answer. If that fails, try Asterisk + Lenny: []

Re:Annoy, annoy, annoy (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45508157)

Yes, annoying them is good, but the main thing is you need to keep them on the phone as long as possible while annoying them.

The more time of theirs you waste, the more reason they have to quit calling you.

Re:Annoy, annoy, annoy (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#45508201)

That's what Lenny's for :-)

Re:Annoy, annoy, annoy (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#45508245)

Yes, annoying them is good, but the main thing is you need to keep them on the phone as long as possible while annoying them.

You need the "Talking Tom" app for the iPad. Start it and hold the phone's speaker to the iPad. The app listens to everything and repeats it in a high-pitched voice.

Forwarding? (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#45508065)

Can you forward the line to someone interesting? The president, the RNC, the Phillipine embassy?

If they harass you about it, just claim that it was an accident...

Forward to 900 number? (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#45508141)

I believe anyone can get a 900 number, or one of those "costs $0.50 to vote" numbers.

Can you forward your phone line to one of these?

(Note: Caller ID can be spoofed, but the charge collections system uses ANI [] , which *can't* be spoofed.)

Re:Forward to 900 number? (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#45508167)

According to this page [] , you can actually do this.

Get a 900 number, forward your line to it, and wait a week or two.

Asterisk, SIP Gateway, Whitelist (4, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#45508075)

I run an android call blocker with a whitelist to screen out telemarketers (who are apparently quite happy to ignore the do-not-call registry,) job recruiters and the occasional ransom demand from those guys in Mexico. Since you're on a landline, it's a bit harder. You could plug your phone into a SIP gateway and set up asterisk on some machine that you have on all the time. Then you could set the system up to only ring your SIP phone for numbers on the whitelist.

Normally I dump everyone else to voicemail, but they could still tie up your landline and fill up your voicemail box. If they're robodialing you, you could drop anyone not on a whitelist into a voice menu system that requires a couple of button presses that requires a couple of button presses to get to voice mail, and disconnect them after 10 or 15 seconds if they don't press a button.

Re:Asterisk, SIP Gateway, Whitelist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508203)

I run something similar on my home land line, but it is not for everyone. I have a FXO/FXS card attached to my asterisk box.
My box answers, does a number lookup and then decides based on the number calling, time of day, etc ( I use several
http lookups on the calling number to see if it is in a spam phone list ) and then either let the phone ring my home phone
or have it go to an automated attendant that has the caller press 1 to leave a message or 2 to be disconnected.

has reduced my spam calls significantly.


Re:Asterisk, SIP Gateway, Whitelist (1)

n1ywb (555767) | about a year ago | (#45508237)

Am I the only one here who's had the same phone number for almost 10 years and is NOT innundated with spam and scam callers? (I've probably jinxed it now)

Make them spend money (5, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | about a year ago | (#45508127)

Pick up the phone. Ask them who they're calling from, have them spell your name specifically, state you "do not recall" such alleged debt. If you can, record the call. ("It's for my own records" if they ask.) Don't ever give them ANY information. If they insist on collection, ask them to send you a physical claim. If such arrives, find a defect and tell them about it when they call back. (unless, of course, they have an actually-toll-free number, which they have to pay for.)

Oh, and always, ALWAYS make them repeat themselves. Repeat yourself ad-naueum, as well.

Just don't make any false statements, or agree to the validity of any debt you are not willing to pay.

(Honestly, though, I'd expect a scam to drop at "I'm recording this call, and your name is?")

Get a new landline (or better yet, cut the cord) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508129)

Get a 2nd landline (or better yet, cut the cord completely).

On the main line receiving the harassing calls, set call forwarding to someone's desk deep in the FBI. That ought to get the ball rolling....

The caveat - you'll probably get a visit from a G-Man or two. They may decide to go after you. Or they may do the right thing and go after the scammer...

Hopefully common sense prevails...

Re:Get a new landline (or better yet, cut the cord (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45508227)

That is horrible advice and you should feel bad for giving it.

Call your Telecoms provider (1)

thewils (463314) | about a year ago | (#45508131)

They should be able to see that you are being harassed and block the call for you.

Re:Call your Telecoms provider (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#45508277)

You'll just end up playing whack a mole.

A VOIP number is incredibly cheap, you shut down one and they'll have a new number to call you from in under 10 minutes.

Harass them back and you'll likely have them shut down their own number quicker than your telecom provider could.

Google Voice (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#45508149)

Switch to Google Voice. Aside from the call screening feature, it also automatically spam-filters your calls much like Gmail.

Google Voice (2)

clinko (232501) | about a year ago | (#45508159)

I had success by porting my landline to Google Voice Account, which has global spam filtering [] .

First, get an AT&T GoPhone ($20). Then port to Google Voice ($20), choosing AT&T as the option.
You are asked for a transfer id that you will need to call AT&T for... It is NOT on the phone, and not available without calling AT&T's support #.

I don't know your story, but this also makes you more flexible to either drop your current landline, or move to a cheaper provider (likely).

Either way, Google Voice does wonders at spam filtering, but some still make it through. Best of luck!

Just pay your bills, in-full and on-time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508175)

Pay your damn bills. Then you know any debt collection is a scam.

Just say YES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508195)

No matter what they ask. over and over again.

We can help (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45508259)

Give us your number. We can fix this.

I had this happen a while back (5, Informative)

Cito (1725214) | about a year ago | (#45508273)

I have a portable phone/answering matching on landline with me DSL bundle. I kept getting this call from India about credit card problems even though I dont own a credit card, my credit is sooooo bad I destroyed it when I was 18 and got sued by banks which I never showed up or paid and since I own no assets they wasted money suing... Now I'm in my 40s

Anyhow the trick to stop the shit India calls coming in 4 and 5 times per day was sadly be as offensive and racist and vile and shocking as possible, become a Chan kid as if they od'd on Ritalin hehe

I had some chick get so mad she was screaming at me in a foreign language, the a supervisor took over her call and acted as ic was going to apologize, so I blasted him with racist to sexual to US outsourcing call centers so they can make 50 cent an hour blah blah. He got to yelling in his own language, I kept having fun looking up how to give death threats and rape daughters in their language. The line goes dead ....

Its now been a year and 2 months and my phone has not range once except for my family and occasional doc appt reminder

Go nuts and go the sicker the better, it works and you'll enjoy the cathartic moment of destroying them to the point they start screaming some foreign gibberish while you laugh and know them dumbasses won't call you ever again.

Change your number to a premium rate number (1)

Captain Kirk (148843) | about a year ago | (#45508293)

You can't stop them calling you unless it costs them money do change your number to a premium rate one. Give your friends and family your cell phone number.

Don't answer the phone (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#45508303)

You have Caller ID already, just don't answer the phone for numbers you don't recognize. If it's legitimate they'll leave a message on your answering machine. Also do as someone else suggested and crank up the number of rings before your answering machine picks up the call. People who know you will wait for an answer. Legitimate callers will either wait and leave a message; if they don't then it obviously wasn't important enough to even leave a message, so you shouldn't worry about it. Also change the outgoing message on your answering machine if you state your name on it, or better yet if it's got a pre-recorded generic outgoing message, use that instead of one recorded in your own voice. If necessary send an email or give a call to family and friends explaining the changes so they're neither put off by it or worried that something drastic is wrong. I know this all does sound drastic, but personally I don't see any other alternatives; these sorts of "organizations" are ruthless and persistent (kind of like African honey-badgers), but if you can convince them that you've changed your number without actually having to do so, they'll lose interest in you and stop wasting their time trying to harass you.

Asterisk (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45508319)

set up an asterisk pbx. whitelist numbers you want and send everything else to a blackhole that is the "this number is disconnected" recording.
you can whitelist your entire area code so it's easy to block everything else.

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