Tag Archives: NomoRobo

How to stop ‘Anonymous’ phone calls on your landline

Last year, I did a post on “Why the FTC’s Do Not Call registry doesn’t stop those annoying robo-calls — and how you can stop them”.

After I signed on to a service called Nomorobo, which blocks robo-calls free for landline phones but costs $1.99 a month for mobile phones, most of the robo-calls I get indeed are blocked. How I know is when a call comes in, the phone only rings once, then the call is referred to Nomorobo.

But Nomorobo (to which I donated) still does not block all nuisance calls. I’ve noticed that some calls still get through, which my landline phone’s Caller ID identifies as “Anonymous”.

Well, there is a way to block “Anonymous” calls as well! Alas, it works only with some landline phones Xfinity, AT&T and Verizon, but not T-Mobile and Sprint.  

Craig Johnson of clark.com tells us how:

If your landline phone service is with Xfinity:

  • On your home phone, lift the receiver and listen for the dial tone.
  • Press *77 and listen for a confirmation tone. That’s how you know that the feature is working.
  • The “anonymous” caller who is blocking the display of their name and number will hear an automated recording that you’re not accepting blocked calls, and that to call again they must to unblock their Caller ID.
  • To turn off the Anonymous Call Rejection feature, press *87 and listen for a confirmation tone. When you hear it, the feature has been deactivated.

If your landline phone service is with AT&T:

  • Open the Customer Portal online and click the Inbound Features tab.
  • If Anonymous Call Rejection is enabled, to the right of it, under Action, click the Edit icon. Click yes or no and save.

If your landline phone service is with Verizon:

Even after you’ve activated the Anonymous Call Rejection feature on your landline phone, there are at least three kinds of calls that you’ll still receive:

  • Operator-assisted calls.
  • Calls that come up as Unknown or Unavailable.
  • Calls that are listed as Out-of-Area.

Note that the *77 feature won’t stop anonymous calls on your cell phone. Depending on the cell phone carrier, pressing *77 will either result in a “call could not be completed” prompt or in some areas of the United States, pressing *77 on your mobile phone will connect you to either the police or public safety officials.

See also:

H/t CSM

~Eowyn

Better than Drudge Report. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

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Beware of ‘Can you hear me’ phone scam

There is a phone scam that you need to know.

As the video below explains, phone calls are made from people you don’t know. When you answer, a voice may ask: “This is (name). Can you hear me?”

If you answer, “Yes,” your voice is secretly recorded.

Then you’ll get another phone call demanding payment for the purchase of some goods or service, using your voice saying “yes” as proof that you had made that purchase.

As I had posted before, registering your phone calls with the federal government’s Do Not Call registry means very little these days because robo-callers are ignoring and circumventing the registry, and the federal government does not have the personnel to actually administer and police the Do Not Call registry. The registry is really an honor system that depends on merchants honoring your “do not call” requests, but countless and increasing numbers of unscrupulous merchants simply ignore our requests.

What can you do?

  1. Phones are now equipped with caller ID. When you get a call from someone you don’t recognize, don’t answer the call. Do not be fooled by the caller ID identifying the caller as having your area code — robocallers have found a way to fake area codes.
  2. Get Nomorobo, a free online service that will block robocalls to your phone. I did many months ago, and it works! Whenever my phone rings once and then stops, that’s Nomorobo blocking a robocall. To sign up, go here. Nomorobo for landline phones is free, but there is a fee for cell phones.
  3. NEVER ever give out personal information on the phone, such as your credit card number, social security number, or bank account number.

H/t John Molloy

~Eowyn

Better than Drudge Report. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

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Why FTC’s Do Not Call registry doesn’t stop those annoying robo-calls — and how you can stop them!

The short answer: Robo-callers make so much money that they can afford to pay a fine to the FTC.

Simon van Zuylen-Wood of the Washington Post uses the example of one telemarketer to explain why those robo-calls keep calling you.

Virtually all robo-calls, whatever they’re selling, are illegal. But that hasn’t stopped a middle-aged telemarketer named Aaron Michael (or Michael Aaron) Jones, who lives high by spamming people with robo-calls. He lives in a $25,000 a month Spanish Colonial Revival house in a gated community near Laguna Beach, Calif.; has a personal chef; drives a couple of Mercedes; and has a gambling account at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Jones had paid for exclusive access to a computer program capable of blasting out prerecorded phone messages to just about anyone in the country, peddling auto warranties, home security systems and search-engine optimization tools. He works with a revolving cast of co-workers under the auspices of about a dozen corporations, as well as rents the computer program out to other robo-callers.

According to the FTC’s investigation, Jones was “facilitating” roughly a billion robo-calls a year, more than any individual the FTC had ever identified. On Oct. 1, 2015, Jones was called to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to testify under oath.

Simon van Zuylen-Wood writes:

At 9:50 a.m., Jones and his attorney arrived at a fifth-floor FTC conference room, where two of the commission’s lawyers, James Evans and Ian Barlow, would confront him. But a curious thing happened as they began asking questions: Jones didn’t deny much of anything. When Evans tried to pin down the volume of calls he was capable of placing, he answered, “I did a lot,” then punched out an estimate on his phone’s calculator. Jones eventually grew restless and tried to move the interview along: “Obviously, the underlying issue is the calls are illegal. We know that already.Afterward, he returned to California and resumed robo-calling. In January 2017, the FTC sued him. Five months later, a federal judge banned him from telemarketing and hit him with a $2.7 million penalty. He didn’t bother contesting the judgment. […]

Jones, it appears, didn’t really care about getting caught. The same goes for the rest of the robo-calling industry. The financial rewards of bothering people on the telephone are clearly greater than the risks. “We continue to bring cases and shut down as many folks as we can,” says Janice Kopec, the FTC’s point person on robo-calls. “What we recognized, though, was we shut down an operation and another one springs up behind it almost instantaneously.” Hence our modern scourge. In 2015, the call-blocking app YouMail estimated that close to a billion robo-calls were being placed every month. Two years later, that number has leapt to 2.5 billion. At best, these calls annoy. At worst, they defraud. By far, they constitute the top consumer complaint received by the FTC.

In theory, there is a fix: the National Do Not Call Registry, created in 2003. Today, 230 million numbers are on it. The point, obviously, is to not be called. And yet the FTC receives 19,000 complaints every day from list members who have, in fact, been called. There is a battle being waged over the inviolability of our telephone numbers — over the right to not be bothered. On one side there is Mike Jones and his robot army. On the other side, there is the federal government and its list. It is clear who’s winning. But why?

Zuylen-Wood identifies some key players and moments in the history of telemarketing:

  • In 1967, Murray Roman, a public-relations consultant, first invented telemarketing.
  • In 1969, Douglas Samuelson, a Virginia telecom analyst, invented predictive dialing — a technology that allowed department stores, politicians and scammers to dial widely and quickly, while weeding out phone lines that were busy or unresponsive — which exponentially increased telemarketing.

Note: Hmm, Aaron Michael Jones, Murray Roman, Douglas Samuelson. Does anyone see a pattern here?

  • In 1991, Congress created the first Do Not Call registries, which were ineffective because the registries were maintained by telemarketers so that the only way to get on them was to call the companies themselves.
  • In 2003, Congress passed a bill to create a nationwide Do Not Call Registry, administered by the FTC. (The House bill passed 412 to 8, opposed by Ron Paul, Jeff Flake and a handful of other shrink-the-state types.) In three months, 50 million people signed up. Telemarketing groups found to have called any of the registered numbers could be fined up to $11,000 per call. By downloading the list of numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, and then declining to call them, telemarketers largely policed themselves out of existence.
  • By the late 2000s, though, a new threat had emerged: robo-calls, prerecorded phone messages instead of live telemarketers. Legitimate companies began outsourcing illegal robo-calls to third parties. Will Maxson, an assistant director in the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, explains that voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) dialing “allows telemarketers to make lots and lots of calls for less money, from anywhere in the world. It also allows you to set up shop, tear down, move. All you really need to make a lot of calls is a computer and an Internet connection.” Combine that with an automated dialing platform, plus some co-workers, and you’re Aaron Michael Jones.
  • Robo-calls also employ another technology — “spoofing” or faking a telephone number enables robo-callers to call targets from numbers that bore their own area codes, and, simultaneously, throw law enforcement off their scent. (Now you know why so many robo-calls come from phone numbers with your area code!)
  • In 2009, the FTC outlawed almost all robo-calls, exempting those from political organizations, schools and other entities not trying to sell you things. Alas, the ban had no perceptible effect. From 2010 to 2011, the number of annual Do Not Call complaints jumped from 1.6 million to 2.3 million; in 2012, the number rose again by nearly 70%. In 2017, the FTC received a record 7.2 million complaints. The top violations reported were debt-reduction schemes, vacation and timeshare offers, warranties and protection plans, and impostors.

At the root of the FTC’s public relations problem is a misapprehension about how the Do Not Call Registry works:

  • When you add your number to the list, nothing actually happens. No legal muscle or technological wizardry  prevents a solicitor from calling you.
  • All the list does is provide you with vague recourse in the event you are called, by allowing you to complain that someone has called you, by calling a toll-free number or filling out a form on the Do Not Call website.
  • If the number you were called from shows up in enough complaints, the FTC will leap into action and prosecute the offending dialer. Except, it almost certainly won’t.

The main reasons why the FTC’s Do Not Call registry doesn’t and can’t stop robo-calls are:

  1. Robo-callers couldn’t care less because nobody knows who they are or where they’re calling from since they all spoof (fake) their numbers.
  2. More robo-calls are done every year because it’s cheap and easy to blast out automated calls from anywhere in the world.
  3. 1 and 2 make it nearly impossible for the FTC to identify robo-callers, let alone penalize them. At a hearing on robo-calls in October, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she was getting so many of them, she’d disconnected her home phone. “The list,” she said, “doesn’t work.”
  4. The FTC doesn’t have the resources to go after robo-callers, with an annual budget of $300 million (the FBI’s is $9 billion) and only 43 employees in the Division of Marketing Practices, which oversees unwanted calls, none of whom work full time on the issue. Ami Dziekan, who works in a different department, is the lone steward of the Do Not Call Registry.
  5. Since the robo-call ban went into effect in 2009, the FTC has brought just 33 cases against robo-callers. In those cases, defendants have been ordered to pay nearly $300 million in relief to victims, and nearly $30 million in civil penalties to the government. But even then, the FTC can’t force perpetrators to pay the fine if they argue they’re broke, which robo-callers often seem to be. So the FTC has only collected on a fraction of those sums: $18 million in relief and less than $1 million in penalties.

This is how I deal with robo-calls:

When a call rings and I don’t recognize the caller ID number, I answer the call but stay silent. If it’s a human calling, the person eventually will say: “Hello? Hello?”. If it’s a robo-call, after a few seconds of my silence, the robo-call simply hangs up.

After weeks of employing the silent method, I’ve noticed that the number of robo-calls has greatly decreased.

Let’s hear from our readers of your methods of dealing with these irritating robo-calls!

See also “Beware of cold calls from Windows Technical Support – It’s a scam”.

UPDATE:

Thanks to reader Roy’s advice, I just signed on to a service called Nomorobo, which blocks robo-calls. The service is free for landline phones, but costs $1.99 a month for mobile phones. I followed the instructions, and successfully enabled robo-calls to be blocked from my landline phone. Click here or go to: https://nomorobo.com/.

~Eowyn

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