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FTC To Revisit Robocall Menace 167

coondoggie writes "While there are legal measures in place to stop most robocalls, the use of the annoying automated calling process seems to be on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission, which defined the rules that outlawed most robocalls in 2009 has taken notice and this October 18th will convene a robocall summit to examine the issues surrounding what even it called the growing robocall problem." A true robocall summit would be a great way to field candidates for the Loebner Prize! But since these will be humans (regulators, etc), I hope, but doubt, they can somehow do something to stop the constant fraudulent robocalls I get from credit-card scammers. In the meantime, it's good to keep a whistle handy.
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FTC To Revisit Robocall Menace

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  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:09PM (#40603909)

    its not even political. its a scam. 'we would like to take your poll on some issues. oh, and stay online so we can tell you about our CRUISE PACKAGE!'

    its all a scam.

    one thing I'm working on is a hardware device that will use a caller id modem, get the # string and check things like (which is easy to script/call). the spam number is easy to get and I can basically NOT let the call ring thru if its on the spam list. if its not, the relay will click, the 2 wires will pass thru to the actual phone system in my house and I'll hear the ring.

    best way to avoid them is to not even give them an answer. they think there's no one ever there. best way to deal with them (since killing them is illegal. I think?)

  • Spam calls (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:14PM (#40604003)

    I think what we're seeing today is a different form of robocalling. Legislation has (thankfully) made legitimate, above the board robocalling operations unprofitable.

    What we see now are scams run by criminal organizations, not unlike spam. They used to try sell you things, now it's just outright fraud. With low cost voip-hardline services it's easy to setup a fly-by-night operation and make a few hundred thousand calls before you're shut down.. If you get shut down. The FCC/FTC seem to be pretty slow acting.

  • Credit Card (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:24PM (#40604155)

    The ones I get are usually credit card scams.

    I've heard it said that these calls are coming from offshore making it hard for the FTC to trace.

    Too bad we can't set the RIAA and MPAA loose on them.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:28PM (#40604223)

    one thing I'm working on is a hardware device that will use

    Not trying to rain on your parade, and hey, if it works for you, go and do it, but once you have an asterisk PBX and voip working, setting up some caller ID routing rules is almost terminally simple as shown below.

    So in /etc/asterisk/exten.conf you'll have a stanza for incoming calls


    Now inside that start if/then routing kicking junk out. Now please be patient with me, I'm old, tired, and this is from memory, and asterisk config language is like F-ing LISP but ten times worse in how even something "simple" needs endless nested parens, brackets, and curlies.

    exten => _XX.,2,GotoIf($[${CALLERID(num)}" = "Unknown"]?200)
    exten => _XX.,4,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):0:3}" = "800"]?200)

    Take a wild guess what line number 200 looks like:

    exten => _XX.,200,VoiceMail()
    exten => _XX.,201,HangUp()

    I also have a line 300 termination that simply hangs up on certain blacklisted numbers. and a "ZapaTeller" or whatever its called that squirts SIT (disconnected) tones. And I believe I have a milliwatt termination, and a music on hold termination in there somewhere.

    Now as a practical matter this is an excellent way to learn who blocks caller ID and who doesn't. I've made some weird discoveries like one of my kids doctors categorically blocks outgoing caller ID every time he calls (annoying). Also the school. Other than that, no problemo.

    Whenever I mention this, I get breathless FUD about how the world might end because a CIA agent can't call me to tell me to hack into NORAD and block the missile launch. Oh wait that was the movie "Wargames" again. Well anyway the point is ignore the FUDders they aren't worth it.

  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:40PM (#40604401)

    I work for a large non-profit health system in the midwest. We implemented "robocalls" to serve as appointment reminders. Our patients seem to like and appreciate them. They are not opt-in, but a person can opt-out. These calls save time and money, because they reduce no-show rates and they also reduce incidences of people showing up unprepared for the service they need. ("You weren't supposed to eat this morning, unfortunately we can't do the procedure now.")

    So, not all robocalls are bad. There just needs to be a law that you can only use automated calls with people who have initiated a business relationship with you.

    Politicians always exempt their own calls, of course. And the "previous business relationship" thing is being interpreted very broadly right now. If you donated to the DNC or a candidate in 2008, they interpret that as you wanting junk mail and phone calls for every candidate they have this time around and continue robo-calling.

    We need to get politicians to play by the same rules as everyone else. (fat chance)

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#40604521)

    Oh and I forgot another step of my exten.conf script.

    Certain numbers get a GOTO to line 100 where I ring every phone in the house plus an analog adapter with a weird phone ringer on it. Mom, Granny, auntie, workplace, friends, coworkers, neighbors, you get the idea, basically if we know them, we get a special ring.

    However unknown numbers fall thru to line 50 or so and only ring the regular phones.

    You can do multiple lines with voip and selective ringtones and such, but it turns out to be simpler and cheaper to just do some analog weirdness to a special extension.

    When I was single and living alone I shut off my ringer and did not accept incoming calls. Message service only... I enjoyed my freedom.

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @02:33PM (#40605261) Homepage Journal

    Imagine this: if instead of just ignoring the packets, you could somehow make their DNS server say "no such host."

    Your analogy doesn't apply. ACD systems don't care about non-answers, they don't remove the number then. If they get an answering machine they can detect, they drop the call but keep you - but if they get a number disconnected or other telco error, they remove you - at least from that campaign. Nothing stops the meatbag in charge from feeding you into the hopper again later.

    Disclaimer: I used to work with these systems. I do know how they work, having implemented them. (for a legitimate collections agency, not bullshit "Want a cruise!?" nonsense)

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