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Fighting Back Against Ghost Calls

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-hate-them-so-much dept.

Spam 297

An anonymous reader writes "You're doing something interesting. The phone rings. You get up, pick up the phone, and hear only silence. It could be a slasher waiting outside your house, but it's probably an errant computer at a telemarketer. This article describes how some are fighting back by setting up websites to track the worst telemarketers by their caller ids. The article mentions whocalled.us (one of the funnier urls I've ever seen), 800notes.com and numberzoom.com . One intrepid guy is even writing a program to check these sites when the call comes in before ringing the phone."

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So basically... (2, Funny)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365333)

They're compiling a list of numbers that they're going to provide to others... of companies or individuals... who they're targeting... for... You know this sounds a lot like what they're complaining about, to me.

Re:So basically... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365427)

Well, good thing I had a bit of karma to burn. I was going for "Funny", but I guess Troll works too. I wonder what happened to focusing on modding up, though...

Great (1)

Archades54 (925582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365337)

Nothing more fun than answering the phone during your favourite tv show or whatever just to hear the silence.

I want all phones to have that program to block the ghost calls.

Re:Great (4, Interesting)

luvirini (753157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365397)

Very easy solution.. just install asterix and make your own voice menues people have to navigate to get to the actual phone... no more automated messages or other annoyinaces..

You can even make diffent paths for telemarketeers.. and if they select the "I am family or friend" then they have actually allready lied once.. hmm.. starts to sound like a solution I have to implement..

Should only take a couple of hours..

Re:Great (4, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365445)

Check the so called "Torture" dialplan for asterisk. It already does most of that. Cheers,

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365977)

no more automated messages or other annoyinaces..

Hmmm... there goes my automated video game reservation messages, my Blockbuster overdue messages, automated messages from companies telling us our product has shipped, and any other ligitimate and useful automated phone message you might receive for appointments, etc.

Re:Great (2, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365801)

I want all phones to have that program to block the ghost calls.
Putting it on the phones is not efficient enough. It should just be put on the telco's switches.
Of course that would go over as well as ISP filtering your spam for you. Also, it would pretty effectively kill the jobs of 5% of the adult U.S. population.
Why do we still have such a problem with telemarketing even after the DNC registry? I would guess my calls got cut back by 25% or so, but most of the calls are from agencies which are exempt (but should not be) from the DNC, charities and politicians.
Now, many telemarketers are still able to get through because charities are paying telemarketing agencies to bug you.

Re:Great (2, Informative)

Tesen (858022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365857)

Don't answer the phone?

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366123)

You may have been being ironic, but that's exactly what I do. I only have a landline anymore because I'm required to in order to have DSL (alternative being Comcast. Not happening.)

The only people who call the landline are telescum. Everyone important has my cell phone number.

Caller ID (1)

Beached (52204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365363)

This is assuming that the caller id is not faked and is correct. Nothing like getting the call from the Caribean with a local area code.

Re:Caller ID (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365731)

This is assuming that the caller id is not faked and is correct. Nothing like getting the call from the Caribean with a local area code.

My home phone, I screen with the answering machine. Swore I never would do, but have.

Similar with my mobile. Any incoming call from an unknown number I do not answer, let the voice mail sort it, if they leave a message. I had one call from a Las Vegas area code and Googled it. Turns out it's simply a call to see if someone answers, then they add it to a list they pass along for phone scams, holiday trip specials, time-shares, etc. Most people who have dealt with these people have come to regret it.

My though is this: If these people are known scumbags and there's already sufficient discussion of them and their tactics on internet forums, why haven't law enforcement done anything? I know in the USA there's such a thing as Wire Fraud.

Re:Caller ID (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365831)

My though is this: If these people are known scumbags and there's already sufficient discussion of them and their tactics on internet forums, why haven't law enforcement done anything? I know in the USA there's such a thing as Wire Fraud.

Because there isn't a lobby to convince Congress that they're a menace to law, order, and our purity of essence. Quite the opposite in fact, the DMA convinces them that the very engines of society will grind to a halt should any regulation be enacted that requires marketers to shoulder the onerous burden of obeying the law.

Re: Screening works especially well.. (2, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366227)

...with the new generation. My son and all his friends will absolutely not leave a message no matter what. At home, when my son's friends call and I ignore them because he is not home, they will not leave a message. They simply call back every so often until someone answers. if it is of an urgent nature, they call more frequently. My son once called me five times in the space of four minutes when I was in a meeting and couldn't answer. He never once left a message, which I could have listened to during the meeting to determine if it was actually important. You can try explaining this stuff to the new generation, but they don't get it.
Pardon me, there seem to be some teenagers on my lawn.

Internet-connected phone (4, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365367)

Next up, a phone that connects to the internet, checks the number, than picks up without ringing and starts playing a tape of you acting interrested in what the telemarketeer says only to hang up after an hour. Either that or pick up and hang up immediately so the line stays clear. Whatever costs the telemarketeer most. All without the phone ever bothering you ofcourse.

Re:Internet-connected phone (3, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365507)

If I'm in a snarky mood that's exactly what I do, pick up the phone and tell them I'm interested, tell them to hold on for just a sec and put the receiver down and put on some awful Wurlitzer music or go back to whatever I was doing (dishes is my favourite) and see how long it takes them to hang up.

I had one guy on the line for over an hour, at one point he said "hello" loud enough for me to hear and I told him to "uhh... hang on just a bit more" and returned to whatever I was doing.

I've actually just recently used some of the sites in question to figure out what lame person was trying to ring my number at dinner time. I did a Google search with the number and it came right up with it on 800notes.com. Impressive I thought, now if only I could block numbers for free...

Re:Internet-connected phone (2, Interesting)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366035)

and starts playing a tape of you acting interrested

I'd do one that just went... "Hello? Hello?... Hello?... Can you speak up? Hello?... Sorry, the phone doesn't seem to be working, could you try calling back? Hello?". Then see how many times the person calls back. =)

Re:Internet-connected phone (2, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366167)

I tried this, most don't call back but some do and sometimes from a direct line. This is key because you can have some fun with that number...

Not that I would do anything like that.

Did that 14 times last weekend... (2, Funny)

rthille (8526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365371)


forgot to lock the keys on my cell phone and my phone called my friend 14 times!

Doh!

Re:Did that 14 times last weekend... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365505)

I just took a ghost shit.

Nice thick, stinky, slightly juicy on the outside, jimmy rocket. Slid out my backdoor like the titanic into the sea.

I looked down as I went to wipe, and voila, it was gone! Like it never happened. Maybe it didn't? Scary when you think about it...

Re:Did that 14 times last weekend... (5, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365545)

Fun fact, this is what happens if the center "stick" on the Sony Ericsson k700i does if pressed repeatedly:

1. Menu
2. Text messages
3. New text message
4. Send message
5. Contact book
6. Pick top contact
7. Confirm send

It gets even better because that stick apparently sends repeat presses if held down. I once got a phone call from an unlucky woman who was at the top of my contact list, saying I had sent her 60 blank text messages...

Strangely enough, I've now made a "AAA" entry in my cell phone with a dummy number that goes nowhere. Whoever designed the damn thing should get a "stupidest design on market" award though.

Re:Did that 14 times last weekend... (2, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365945)

My Motorola L2 would dial the first person in my address book under the same situation. Since then I have reordered the main menu list to put games first. Most automatic calling has been stopped. Now the big problem isn't the menu but the voice dial button which is easier to press.

I sneezed once and it called my father. I was laughing so hard I forgot to cancel the call until he picked up which resulted only in more laughter.

Re:Did that 14 times last weekend... (4, Interesting)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366049)

you should point it back to your own number, that way it'll remind you on the first message that you forgot to lock your keys.

Re:Did that 14 times last weekend... (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365615)

Ummm, Why didn't he just call you back after the second time and tell you to lock your phone?

My friends and I.. (1, Interesting)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365379)

came up with an idea where if a telemarketer called, we would connect them to an automated system that tried to make them think they were talking to a person. The idea being that whenever the guy stopped talking, the computer would play prerecorded messages like 'Tell me more' to see how long it could keep him on the line. Never actually tried it though.

Re:My friends and I.. (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365435)

came up with an idea where if a telemarketer called, we would connect them to an automated system that tried to make them think they were talking to a person. The idea being that whenever the guy stopped talking, the computer would play prerecorded messages like 'Tell me more' to see how long it could keep him on the line. Never actually tried it though.
that's freaking genius, i wish i'd thought about that. if you want some outsiders to help on this project, please drop me a line, ed at the domain above above.

Re:My friends and I.. (3, Interesting)

RockedMan40 (1130729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365443)

I did. Perhaps mine sounded a bit *too* prerecorded, because they wouldn't stay on very long. A generic one that just looped through "Yes"...."Uh-huh"..."okay"...."muted grunt." seemed to work much better. Especially if there were longer pauses. Sad part - is how bored was I one weekend to do such a project is another discussion.

Re:My friends and I.. (4, Funny)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365651)

Telemarketers aren't fooled by that. Acting interested is the wrong way to go. You need to record yourself saying things like "I'm right in the middle of dinner" or "this isn't a good time". Then they'll be on line forever.
I can't remember if it was the local radio show or a syndicated one that I listen to that had a guy on it who recorded his own pranking of telemarketer calls. He had one where he started off asking the telemarketer how he knew $IntendedRecipient and kept the guy on for about five minutes during which it evolved that there had been a murder, and that the telemarketer was now a suspect. They actually got the guy to admit where he was calling from and indicated that they were calling his local sheriff, and that he was not to move from his desk until the sheriff arrived. It was priceless.
I think it is disgusting when people prank call innocent Chinese takeout places, people's stay-at-home wives, and so forth, but a telemarketer is open game in my opinion.

Re:My friends and I.. (1)

Ed_Pinkley (881113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366265)

That's Tom Mabe. Revenge on the Telemarketers (I don't know which one.) DNC list pretty much ruined that guy's career!
Ed Pinkley

Re:My friends and I.. (3, Interesting)

archen (447353) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365697)

I donno, I mean the Telecrapper 2000 [pagerealm.com] works astonishingly well. Keep in mind that most telemarketers aren't paid much and check their brain in at the door. The sheer repetition of reading off their prompts probably makes them less adept at figuring out that ti's a computer right away.

Re:My friends and I.. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365783)

came up with an idea where if a telemarketer called, we would connect them to an automated system that tried to make them think they were talking to a person. The idea being that whenever the guy stopped talking, the computer would play prerecorded messages like 'Tell me more' to see how long it could keep him on the line. Never actually tried it though.
The TeleCrapper 2000. Windows only, though it looks like they have one with Asterisk. Answers the phone, if it's a telemarketer, boom, they get a nice little script you can program in (check out some of the sample calls...). Allows for more interesting messages...

Forget the ghost calls. (4, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365413)

I'd rather have somebody do something about that slasher outside...

Re:Forget the ghost calls. (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365789)

I'd rather have somebody do something about that slasher outside...

Actually - the call is coming from inside the house!

hello silence my old friend... (1)

uncanny (954868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365421)

I'd rather hear silence than a telemarketer anyways, or even worse, recorded telemarketing calls!

Re:hello silence my old friend... (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365521)

Even worse is that those automated pre-recorded ones don't give up either. You normally have to pick up and put down the phone multiple times before it finally disconnects!

Luckily, in the UK we have a "don't call" list and it works fine for me - no ghost calls and not even any marketing calls. I've just got to get re-listed now that I've moved house...

Re:hello silence my old friend... (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365997)

We have a "do not call" list here in the states too. Interestingly enough, one of the exceptions to said list is any company with which you have a preexisting relationship. I read somewhere (too lazy to find the link) that after receiving dozens of ghost calls from one particular number, the person called that number back only to be greeted with a recording to the tune of "Thank you for calling, you've now opted into our phone list."

Sneaky bastards.

Re:hello silence my old friend... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365991)

"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence [lyricsdepot.com]
Telemarketing, in any form, is customer abuse. Including those forms of telemarketing excepted by the laws associated with the Federal Do Not Call List. Older people who have lost some of the mental capacity are especially vulnerable to this form of abuse.

My mother had a grapefruit sized benign brain tumor (not the reason for the usage of bold above) which changed her ability to think and remember. When she gets one of these "no person on the other end of the line calls" she will start calling everyone she knows to see if they just tried to call her and she won't take the caller ID "service". She also signs up for every "free" prize entry she comes across, thus "giving her permission to be called". Telemarketing calls are perhaps one place where her now paranoid belief that everyone is out to cheat her and is untrustworthy is a benefit, but what of those who are too trusting and easily sold to?

in 2007 (1)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365439)

People still have landlines? Pathetic.

Re:in 2007 (3, Informative)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365609)

What's wrong with landlines? They are still functional during a power outage (Hurricane hit spots, Windstorm frequented areas). Internet connection down and need to make a call? Oh yeah the landline (duh of course this is valid if you don't have a cellphone or bad cellphone coverage at your home and/or bad signal). DSL (although some providers provide DSL without a landline). An uh....when broadband goes down, you can still dialup. Yes this is 2007 and landlines aren't quite the proverbial floppy disk (oh wait...)

Re:in 2007 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365791)

I'm keeping a landline until we come up with another way to leave the Matrix.

Re:in 2007 (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365893)

People still have landlines?

Ye I do, ecause I do't ike he crappy overcmpressd audo uality tha ireless hones ave.

anonymous, unknown, blocked, etc (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365475)

For about half the ghost calls I get, CallerID shows some variation of anonymous, unknown, etc.

Since I have VOIP, and some VOIP providers are nefarious for not buying _all_ the CallerID lists that are available, I can't take the chance that it could my one of my children somewhere.

Of course when CallerID does show a name and/or a number then I can tell whether or not I need to pick up.

And how am I supposed to get Frost Pist if I keep getting a 404 error on the article link? ;-)

Re:anonymous, unknown, blocked, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365729)

Caller ID lists aren't bought, they're sent from the remote switch over the signaling links.

1. whocalled.us? 2. slashdot 3. please hang up ... (4, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365491)

  1. whocalled.us ?
  2. slashdot called us !!!
  3. "please hang up and try again - you melted our server, you ignorant clods (#*#(@&&!

Re:1. whocalled.us? 2. slashdot 3. please hang up (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366019)

1. SYN SYN
2. Who's there?
3. Slashdot!
4. Slashdot who?
5. Slashdot slashslashslash slashdotdotdot slashslashslash slashdotdot slashdotslashslash.

Yeah, lame.

So as not to inconvenience telemarketers... (3, Informative)

uberdilligaff (988232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365513)

Most of these ghost calls arrive because the automated dial systems telemarketers use dial several calls at once, and the first one that answers gets patched to the telemarketing stooge, while others that answer a few seconds later give that spooky silence for 5-10 seconds before they are hung up. The system logs the fact that you answered. Don't worry -- they'll call back to give you some love later.

Re:So as not to inconvenience telemarketers... (1)

Bud Dickman (1131973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365653)

"spooky silence for 5-10 seconds before they are hung up. The system logs the fact that you answered"
If you had read the article (yes, the NY Times is not slashdotted, it is available) you'd know that was fully mentioned in the article and that the auto-dialer must hang up within 2 seconds if no rep is around to take the call. What was the point of your post?

Idea for M$ (1)

crack_vial (572312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365523)

If Microsoft or whomever could come up with an Asterisk like appliance, with full feature set - call blocking, forwarding to mailbox etc., and easy to use, they would make a mint.

Re:Idea for M$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365827)

Or they could, y'know, use Asterisk..

Marginal utility, at best (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365525)

I really don't see the application of this information. If you get a call with an ID that you don't recognize, do you really want to run to your computer first to decide whether or not to answer?

And to make it even less useful, I checked two of the sites listed: whocalled.us and numberzoom.com. The first one was painfully slow (slashdotted perhaps?) and the second one was mostly a wiki with lots of numbers that have no information. You can look up a number, and then find that nobody has added any information on it.

Re:Marginal utility, at best (2, Funny)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366117)

We need to use audio capthas: 'If you are a robot please press 0, if you are a human being please press 792168387231962887613'

That all sounds like a lot fo work. (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365527)

I just check the called ID and only answer if I recognize the number. Could I miss an important call? That's why I have voice mail.

As for stopping what I'm doing, getting up, going over to the phone, etc? Cordless phone is usually within arm's reach. If there's no phone near by or I can't get away from what I'm doing? That's why I have voice mail.

Re:That all sounds like a lot fo work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365619)

Or even better, an old fashioned answer machine.

My message used to be, "Start talking, if I recognise your voice I'll pick up." No more, my girlfriend decided it was rude.

Method to foil the computers? (1)

Parallax Blue (836836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365553)

I've heard a good way to confuse the computers doing the calls is to randomly press the numbers on your phone. Can anyone verify?

Re:Method to foil the computers? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366271)

Playback the old modem attempting to connect carrier waves. Instant hillarity and doubles your score.

Don't call again... huh? (1)

Baavgai (598847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365565)

The PR rep makes it sound like the dropped call is a favor in compliance with some regulation.

However, another, more self serving and therefore likely reason, is that the person on the dropped line cannot utter the words, "Please take me off your list." The scum also have to comply with that one.

whocalled.us rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365601)

I've used it several times to quickly get some background on incoming calls. Those of you who don't pay your bills or work with people who don't pay their bills will love whocalled.us :)

Shunting every incoming call automatically to a lookup service is a recipe for disaster/abuse. Ususally people have a pretty good idea which is which.

Whitelist (1)

alohatiger (313873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365633)

We're at the point where we only pick up the phone if we recognize the caller ID. Otherwise, they can talk to the answering machine.

Re:Whitelist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366157)

Fuck you, you fucking racist.

The "white's only" bullshit went out in the 60's. You lost, so go fuck off.

I always thought... (3, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365667)

I always presumed it was telemarketers who, in order to act more efficiently, would call multiple targets at once, then only connect to the first who picked up the phone, dumping the rest. This avoids the statistically costly tedium of reaching answering machines after x rings, or just waiting for 5 rings to hang up. After all, if you're in a state of existence where telemarketing or managing telemarketers is your main concern in life, a little extra inconvenience for random phone users would not be a key concern compared to profit ratio over time.

Ryan Fenton

Re:I always thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365927)

I heard that ghost calls were simply pings to build a database of when people are home or likely to answer the phone. Basically, call every 30 minutes (not on the same day - that would be obvious), and log when someone picked up. When you're ready to make the telemarketing call, use the database to call when people are home. Or just sell the when-home data to real telemarketers.

Re:I always thought... (5, Informative)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366357)

I used to work for a call center (as the DBA who handled all of the data) and you are pretty much correct about how it works. We had 40-60 callers working per any given shift, and our dialers were capable of dialing out about 120 numbers at once. There was a percentage (known/calculated statistic for this call center) of no-answer and busy signals, so they tried to tune it to be as efficient as possible. What would happen would be the 60 callers would be at their stations, and the call center computer would dial out 120 numbers. The first one that connects gets sent to the first caller (their phone rings, they pick it up and their screen is updated with that person's information), and so forth. Once all of the callers were engaged, or if too many of the people being called answered their phones at once, they were immediately disconnected. They called these 'nuisance calls' and the number of them was kept track of every night. They had a goal to stay under, and they usually made it. (I don't recall what the goal was, but it was greater than 0)

There are also two different types of dialing, one is usually called 'autodialing', where the caller is sitting there, looking at the information of the person they are about to call. They initiate the call, and are met with a standard result: Answer, no answer, busy, line dead, etc. This causes no nuisance calls, because the caller is only calling that one person.

The other kind of dialer is a predictive dialer [wikipedia.org], which dials ahead, and can cause the nuisance calls mentioned above. This is the most efficient method from a call-center point of view, because they can get through many more numbers. Lines that are no-answers, and busy never make it to the callers, so their time is spent with live calls.

Slasher (1)

lord3nd3r (1073580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365677)

I would MUCH rather have a slasher outside than these @#$%^&* telemarketers or ghost calls.

Re:Slasher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365713)

How about a slashdotter outside? No so sure anymore, are we?!

URLs that sound naughty, but aren't. (3, Funny)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365685)

the article mentions whocalled.us (one of the funnier urls I've ever seen)


Obviously never seen www.gotahoe.com ...damnit, they changed it to www.gotahoenorth.com.

And powergenitalia (PowerGen Italia) was a myth. [snopes.com]

Never mind. There's always whorepresents [whorepresents.com], expertsexchange [experts-exchange.com], and Australia's molestationnursery [slurls.com], now renamed.

donotcall.gov? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365695)

Since the domain name is .us I'm guessing that most of the users of that site are in the USA. If only the government would make a registry of numbers that telemarketers weren't allowed to call. Some sort of not calling registry. They might put it at donotcall.gov or something...

Re:donotcall.gov? (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365875)

Yeah, that'd work.

Seriously, though, I've had all my numbers registered with the FCC for years, and I still get at least 5 telemarketing calls every day. I've filed complaints with the FCC over the more persistent ones, not that it matters since they usually don't bother following up, and when they do, ask for information you can't get unless you actually engage with the telemarketers.

When I get a telemarketing call, I'll usually Google the number, and most of the time I'll get a hit on whocalled.us or one of the other similar sites -- the info there is sometimes useful, especially when preparing a complaint.

Silence is Brass (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365699)

It could be a slasher waiting outside your house, but it's probably an errant computer at a telemarketer.
Not errant at all. Telemarketing computer systems are designed so that the call center people are never idle. That means there always has to be an incoming queue of suckers, er, potential customers waited to be talked to. Of course that means that a lot of people will just hang up before they get a chance to hear about the wonders of Timeshares and Male Enhancement Herbs, which is really sad, but an acceptable cost of doing business.

voice captcha?? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365741)

I wonder if it's time for phones to say like 'please type the following numbers before your call is forwarded: 34856'. That way automated calls can be screened so you only get actual humans.

Re:voice captcha?? (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366327)

The telemarketers would just do a simple voice-to-text conversion. So telemarketing calls would be down for maybe a week or 2, but once they got their system updated, they'd be fine and we'd all be stuck with now having to enter in digits every time we place a call. Yay!

Not to mention that legitimate automated call services would be affected

Not to mention that we already have laws on the books to stop unwanted telemarketing calls -- we should just start enforcing them, instead of adding temporary hurdles.

Asterisk FTW! (3, Informative)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365785)

I've set up an Asterisk box on my phone line, and a nifty CGI script that lists incoming calls from the call detail record database. With one click, it can do a whocalled.us lookup on the number, and with another click, I can blacklist it. Once it's in the blacklist, when they call again, I get blessed silence, while the junk caller gets SIT tones (boop-bap-BEEP!) and a recorded message not to call again.

I can also blacklist the last caller by picking up the phone and dialing *60, if I'm not at a computer.

I've noticed that certain blocks of numbers are rather spammy, so I'll go ahead and blacklist blocks of ten or 100 numbers when I start noticing a pattern. I'm not interrupted nearly as much as I used to be.

Re:Asterisk FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366139)

yeah, I do the same with Trixbox, but instead of blacklisting Im tempted to forward all confirmed telemarketers to the FTC. :)

its good enough, want more (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21365843)

iPhone here. Set up a contact called "Blocked Caller," with its own 'no' symbol for the picture, also set to a custom ringtone called Silent (guess what it sounds like). I google all unknown 800 and out of area numbers. Its surprising, but for every number that I didn't know and googled there were 3 or 4 reports. So, I add them to my "Blocked Caller" contact.

There's already some web-->phone funtionality, but it'd be nice to have (voip, and) an option to google unknown numbers, at least if they're in the missed calls list if not immediately as they're calling (available w/ wifi only if EDGE doesn't work simultaneously).

The worst is when... (1)

bogie (31020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365859)

You answer the phone and then hear people talking and keyboards clicking in the background. Then 4 seconds later some stupid rep finally comes on as says Hello Mr. whomever.

Re:The worst is when... (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366237)

I actually think that is the best because I hang up after two seconds and don't have to worry about any ill-informed pangs of conscience over being rude.

Cell Phone (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365895)

I've been getting these calls on my cell phone, often every day. There is never anyone on the other end, just silence. Some of the calls are coming from numbers associated with Allied Interstate, a sleazy debt collection agency that would pimp their own children on a street corner if there was a nickel to be made.

Jacking up volume should be illegal (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21365943)

At least one telemarketing operation is jacking up the volume of their calls to near deafing levels (granted I'm in my 20s...) despite the fact that the volume on the phone is at "1". I feel sorry for people who can't turn it down any lower on analog phones. This practice should be made illegal. Commercial and telemarketing operations should not be able to make changes to the default volume on the receiving line. For the next a***ole who tries this, they should sincerely hope I never meet them face to face with an air horn.

I actually set up a Predictive Dialer (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366007)

Luckily the company I work for saw the light and never used the thing. They did it all correctly though. They were only going to call leads they already had a business relationship with. No need to DNC scrub the lists. The software on this one had a slider where you could define the call drop rate. Now the law states that you cannot call and then drop more then 3% of calls for the life of the campaign. The algorithm is supposed to make less calls per logged in agent based on previous drop rates experienced. The dumb thing is the program gave you a slider so you could put that number as high as you wanted. If you wanted your agent to always be on the phone and you had enough T-1 lines you could have it make 100 calls per agent and only connect the first one that answers. The software also had an algorithm to determine if an answering machine picked up. So for you people playing a message back to the telemarketers; they aren't getting the message. The system was pretty slick and useful if you used it right. Problem is call center managers just can't resist bumping up the drop rate and call per agent number to see increased "productivity". Oh ya, and if you don't answer or they drop the call the software remembers so the list can be reworked. So you might get called back three or four times by the same predictive dialer depending on how much of a dolt the call center manager is.

Couple of solutions ... (4, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366073)

I have a couple of solutions I use when telemarketers call. Now if more people used these methods ...

1) Answer the phone, tell the person on the other end you're right in the middle of something, but if they hold on .............. and set the phone down, and wait. I had one guy hang on for 1/2 hour for me to get back ... SUCKER

2) Act Crazy. Talk about Aliens, UFOs, Bigfoot, whatever. Paranoidism also works. "Why do you keep calling me, what do you want"

3) Start Preaching about Buddha, Jesus, Allah, Moses, Vishnu ..... (maybe considered a variant of 2)

4) Ask if the other person is into "phone sex" and start talking dirty.

5) Try to sign them up for MLM (Amway)

6) Pretend to be abusing/being abused by your SO, while on the phone. "Stop it you bitch or I'll beat your ass again"

In fact, mix and match all you want and come up with some new ideas. ie combine 6 and 4, hilarious.

The point is, if you're having fun with it, and it wastes their time, and enough people do it, it becomes unprofitable waste of the actual human's time on the other end. The bonus is, since I've started doing this, the number of telemarketing calls has dropped to almost nothing.

This has happened to me so often (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366077)

Believe me these calls do not help a paranoid person like me. What is worse i get no caller id !!

Dealing with the droids (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366081)

You would think the telemarketers would realize that answering the phone and hearing nothing is a dead giveaway that it's a telemarketer, and change their tactics. If they hit my answering machine they get dead air, because the (fairly brief) outgoing message has long since finished by the time they pick up. This results in recordings of confused telemarketers saying "Hello...hello...hello...". Serves the dumb f**ks right.

I'm in the phone book as "L. Halliday", and the cold calls always ask for Mr. or Mrs. Halliday, to which my answer is "No!". It doesn't seem to occur to them that the head of the household might be single and female.

Then there are the folks who keep phoning and leaving messages on my answering machine about my free security consultation, free vacation, or whatever. They block their caller ID, so I have no idea where they are phoning from. Nor do they ever call when I'm home, so I can't "Press 1 to hear more details". Grrr...

...laura

Key opening questions... (5, Interesting)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366085)

I usually just hang up if there's no answer. But sometimes, I'll play their game. They invade my privacy, I figure I'm within my rights to ask a few questions:

  1. Who is calling?
  2. What is your name?
  3. Most people have a last name, too. What is it?
  4. Do I know you?
  5. Haven't we met before somewhere?
  6. (sometimes) DRUNKEN COLLEGE KID VOICE: I swear you sound just like that chic I met last night. (Also useful for male callers, but in an even worse way...)
  7. Please wait while I Google your name.
  8. Are you pregnant?
  9. Boy or a girl? You must be so proud! Congratulations! (for added effect, I'll pretend to tell my wife in a loud voice: Hey Honey, so-and-so is having a ...)
  10. Are you a college student?
  11. At this point, I'll ask if they'd like to play a game of 20 questions.
  12. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?
  13. Do you believe in the theory of evolution?
  14. Are you a Democrat or Republican?
  15. etc...

Now, understand that these people are paid by the hour. I'm not wasting their time, I'm wasting their employers time.

Telemarketing is profitable because most of the people who don't want to buy will just hang up the phone. If everyone they called insisted on having a nice, cordial, and polite conversation about political topics, the business model would fail entirely. So, if you hate telemarketing, use the calls as a nice way of promoting your favorite political party, religious position, human rights advocacy, etc... You might even explain to them such topics as:

  1. Why DRM is bad for consumers.
  2. Why torture is immoral. Remember, the revenues they make are supporting the current administration through taxes, so it is most certainly relevant to the discussion of any sale they might make.
  3. The difficulty of using Windows Vista.
  4. The importance of privacy.

Remember, it's a captive audience. Don't be afraid to speak your mind - people need to know!. Don't be intimidated by them. Rather, use the opportunity for political activism!

Heres how it works (or at least used) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366127)

- and I don't think much has changed with this.
At the start of each shift you set up the calling list with a bunch of factors depending upon the type of script you are selling but basically it boils down to how many many numbers you are going to try for each free agent (the human who reads from the script). Say you are going to try 5 numbers for each free agent and you have 3 free agents. The auto dialer then gets grabs 15 numbers which it calls and waits for a reply. Each reply it gets routed to a free agent who then starts babbling incessantly so you can't say "STOP !!". However, if you are the 4th / 5th / 6th person to pick up then you'll get a few seconds of hold as the system scurries around looking for an agent to become free. Eventually it will time out and hang up - but don't worry, the whole event is recorded and you'll probably be called at roughly the same time another evening as you are now tagged as being a real person home at that time - lucky you !

The whole process just loops around and repeats, calls are initiated as soon as an agent becomes free etc. Though normally no-one gets called more than once per cycle, each cycle taking several days (And as soon as you actually talk to an agent you are checked off that particular list)

Private Numbers (1)

u235meltdown (940099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366205)

I have a Speakeasy VoIP and that makes it easy to list logs and block numbers. The problem is after I blocked them, I've been receiving these calls from private numbers.
How are we supposed to deal with that? I tried blocking private numbers, but many of my friends (unfortunately) also hide their numbers.

Another thing, what benefit to them is this... other than MAYBE marking active phone numbers?

The "counter-script" (2, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366211)

A Dutch invention, from 1994. And then to think that in The Netherlands the problem has never been that bad! The counter-script it's called, and it's here: http://www.xs4all.nl/~egbg/counterscript.html [xs4all.nl]

From the website:

The Direct Marketing sector regards the telephone as one of its most successful tools. Consumers experience telemarketing from a completely different point of view: more than 92% perceive commercial telephone calls as a violation of privacy.
Telemarketers make use of a telescript - a guideline for a telephone conversation. This script creates an imbalance in the conversation between the marketer and the consumer. It is this imbalance, most of all, that makes telemarketing successful. The EGBG Counterscript attempts to redress that balance.

I'm not affiliated with the site, I just happen to know about it. I never even tried it, when a telemarketer calls I usually just hang up.

To the guy who's working on a program (2, Interesting)

AngryDad (947591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366225)

Dude, get yourself a couple of beers and stop wasting your time. 90% of ghost calls you receive are VoIP. Spoofing caller ID is trivial in VoIP environment. You don't have to be a telemarketer to do it. There are services like http://www.grandcentral.com/ [grandcentral.com] (where google will collects samples of your voice) or http://www.xebba.com/ [xebba.com] where you can get free 800 or local number and call anywhere anonymously for a couple of cents per minute.

Unless you're whitelisting your calls (which comes with a risk of losing an important one), your application, whocalled.us, or anything else that relies on caller id is not going to stop telemarketers. Oh, and by the way, they have a fleet of programmers with substantially better telephony skills that yours.

paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366229)

Somebody once told me that those calls were the government calling. When you answer and hang up the phone it would eavesdrop on you... Can you say paranoid?

Treat every call like a ghost call (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366243)

I treat every telemarketing call I get like a ghost call:

(phone rings) me: Hello?
caller: Hi, this is so-and-so from somewhere and we're conducting a research...
me: Hello? Is anywhere there?
caller: Hello? Can you hear me?
me: Hello? (pause) Hello?
caller: Can you hear...
me (yelling away from phone): I don't know who it is honey, I can't hear anything.
caller: Hello?

I can keep them on for maybe a minute sometimes. They don't usually call back.

setup.us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21366291)

setup.us/thebomb

Ghost calls based on efficiency on Bugs (1)

psplay (572886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21366337)

Well 10 years ago It worked a bit like this: Phone dialling software will ring more numbers that it has customer service reps available at once, once customer picks up it will determine if there is a customer services rep to speak to the customer, if not, it will disconnect aka Ghost Call. So call centre with 50 people, will usually have 2-3 people just finished a call at any time. System rings ahead 10(or some defined amount) numbers to make sure that the call centre staff are not hanging around. The Cust Service Rep does not know who is dialled until the call is patched through to them, along with the customers details popped up on screen "Hello Mr , we are calling you about your outstanding balance of " etc.
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