Service of Stopping Robocalls

July 23rd, 2018

Categories: Phones, Spam, Telemarketers, Telephone Service

Photo: arstechnica.com

I try not to pick up calls from unusual area codes because I suspect a sales or robocall. I read that the objective is not to let these callers know they’ve reached a live number. I was wrong at least when it comes to robocalls. Read on.

So what can I do to stop the onslaught? Nothing much, according to Katherine Bindley of The Wall Street Journal. She lamented “Why can’t anyone stop this madness? When will it end?” She was inspired to research and write her article after racing out of the shower to catch a call she thought was her boss. It was a robocall. This morning the same thing happened to me. The unknown caller left no message.

In preparing for her article, she heard “There’s no silver bullet” time and again from pundits She advises that you hang up if you pick up a robocall. If you respond in any other way the robocalling company might sell your reactive number to others.

Bindley explained: “Back when phone calls were transmitted over copper wires, businesses paid a lot of money for phone systems that allowed 1,000 employees to make calls without needing 1,000 phone lines. These systems inserted caller ID so, for instance, customers all saw the same business number, regardless of which employee made the call.

Photo: ksryangroup.com

“With the internet, businesses don’t need expensive hardware. Anyone can start a mini call center with software that auto-dials numbers and spoofs caller ID. They also need a provider to ‘originate’ the call, that is, connect the internet call to the phone network.”

Bindley wrote that “developers have proposed a call-certifying protocol…. If a bad guy tries to spoof the caller ID, the call would go through, but it wouldn’t be verified. Eventually, users would see a check mark or other indicator for verified calls.” Verification that a caller has the right to use a phone number leading to the approval check could take as long as five years though Verizon expects to launch a program later this year, Bindley reported.

She suggests you add your number to the Do Not Call Registry managed by the FTC. I checked and you can access by phone at 888-382-1222—use the phone you want to register—or online at www.donotcall.gov. Once the number is on the registry for 31 days you can report unwanted sales calls using the same phone number and website.

Photo: phys.org

Your carrier might have robocall protection as T-Mobile does for free. AT&T offers a free option and with one for $4/monthly you can block categories of calls, Bindley wrote. For $3/month Verizon will send spam numbers received by wireless customers to voicemail and Sprint’s Premium caller ID rejects calls if it determines that they are likely to be SPAM. It’s also $3/month. It’s active for IOS users only now and for Android users by fall.

You can check out Hiya, a free call-blocking app. “Nomorobo, $2 a month, identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail. Unlike some other services, you don’t have to share your contact list for it to work.” I don’t trust the judgment of filtering services if they are anything like my SPAM and junk mail programs. I can be in a back and forth with a client, editor, reporter or producer when communication stops because their most recent email ends up in my SPAM file.

Bindley wrote that she blocked a robocall but got another one from the same business two days later.

Are you irritated by robocalls? Do you try to stop them or have you given up? Don’t you hope that the robocall protection systems and their detectives will distinguish between those we want—say from the pharmacy to announce that our prescriptions are ready or from the electric company that the power is restored at our homes when we’re away—from those we don’t?

Photo: techworm.net

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10 Responses to “Service of Stopping Robocalls”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Nuisance calls are easily reduced to near zero when the following easy steps are taken: Do not pick up calls which are unfamiliar. When caller fails to leave a message on the answering device, treat it as a non call. When the same number keeps appearing on the caller ID, simply block the call. Someone who keeps calling without stating his/her business is undoubtedly up to no good.

    I have no idea whether this former plethora of calls were “robo” or not, but they’re some 98% gone, so who cares?

  2. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin wrote on Facebook: Timely and significant. Brings to mind the general issue of technological abuse – something like the beginning of the industrial revolution which at once celebrated progress yet, in its wake, exploitation. Something like that is happening today.

  3. jmbyington Said:

    Martin it’s the Wild West of tech. The inventors build without thinking about protecting users. That’s not the profitable side.

  4. jmbyington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    What I like about your idea is that it’s low tech and does not involve some inaccurate gizmo to determine what is and isn’t voice spam.

  5. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin wrote on Facebook: Did the robber barons of the late 19th century think of users? Of course not. It is always profit. It is the understandable, selfish motivation – the impetus for the capitalist system. And it works most of the time, seeking its own balance, but needs regulation and discipline.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martin,

    Precisely—and there is little discipline and no regulation.

  7. Protius Said:

    I admit I dislike telephones and use them as little as possible, but I’ll readily acknowledge that they do have constructive uses when used to good purpose.

    I’m sure that artificial intelligence can already identify robo calls and probably at a reasonable cost, but I don’t like its intrusive nature. I prefer to screen my incoming calls using caller id and picking up only calls that I really want to receive. Others I let go to the answering machine where they can be erased. It is a time consuming but practical way to cope with the problem.

  8. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin wrote on Facebook: Certainly fewer regulations under Trump. He promised that. Discipline is catch as catch can. Some firms are more responsible than others. But Trump is employing anti trust laws in the case of Amazon. Consistency is absent in this administration. It has no ideological, moral or philosophical focus. It is pragmatic based upon the well being of its leader, the president.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martin,

    DJT’s game is to keep moving, zigging and zagging–like the characters in a TV police chase avoiding being hit by bullets as they run from one safe spot to another. Consistency is his enemy, as you note. It would not get him coverage, which is one of his primary goals. By pulling out one conflicting move/decision/declaration/accusation after another he has the media chasing him down each new silo while dropping the previous story/misstep. The effect of this chaos on many citizens and businesses is insecurity–which is just what he wants.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Protius,

    It may be time-consuming but if you responded to the calls, you’d get so many more of them that in the long run, you probably save time! The situation reminds me of poison ivy: If you itch it, it spreads. Sigh.

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