Help! Is there *any* way to squelch either robocalls or India call center telephone attacks to my phone?

  • Hero Member

    I get a daily barrage of both robocalls and B.S. India call center attacks trying to get me to give up information. It doesn't matter how many times I hang-up or ask them not to call back, they keep calling me, over and over and over and over. I get so many of these calls that my phone is practically unusable for inbound calls anymore, and there's seemingly no way to shut them off, other than turning my phone off. Therefore, I'm on the verge of looking into building something electronic whereby a caller will either need to be on my white list or else will need to enter a secret code in order to make my phone ring; otherwise, the caller will be sent to voicemail. Is there a better way? I'm totally exasperated. I'm already on the national "Do Not Call" registry in the US, and, not surprisingly, it is basically useless because 1. these people are obviously criminals in the first place, and so they don't give a damn about who is or isn't in a registry; and 2. they're calling from out-of-country locations where they can't be prosecuted.

  • @NeverDie I feel your pain. I use google voice. My strategy is that I never answer a number that is not in my contacts. Google voice has a calls screening feature.

    The second part is whack-a-mole. If the caller does not leave a message, I block it, then mark it as spam. Most legitimate callers will leave a message. At first there are lots of moles to whack. I've been at this for years and I get ~10 robo-calls a week. My blocked list must be huge!

    When a realtor leaves a message, I text back with, "Thank you for the interest in my property. I am currently entertaining offers in the mid 11 digits. Please be respectful of your time and mine."

    Remember, every time you enter your phone number on a form, you will get at least 10 robo-calls.

    good luck to us all


  • Hero Member

    @OldSurferDude My wife has also tried blacklisting the moles, but in our experience, the moles get new phone numbers at least as fast as we can whack them. These SOBs don't care that you don't want to talk to them. Their strategy is to get their foot in the door by whatever means possible. They'll use all manner of fake caller-ID just to get you to pick up the phone.

    I think step#1 would be to have a robo answering machine which answers all calls and asks questions and which uses AI to evaluate the answers. I estimate that would defeat at least 95% of them while still letting through legitimate calls. A prompt question could be as simple as "Who are you trying to reach?", which, if answered correctly, could be followed up by "What telephone number are you calling from?", which could be used to further validate the call. It's either that, or else I will need to hire a human answering service to screen my calls. Maybe there's a cheap call center in India that can screen my calls? There's gotta be some way to level the playing field by fighting fire with fire.

    Meanwhile, I'm assuming there's some way to use home automation to solve this problem. Just not sure what it would be. Asterisk (*) and variants thereof are free, for instance, and so IVR could be a starting point.

  • @NeverDie Now there's an idea for a service! A call screening service. You forward your calls to them. They have a data base of scam numbers which automatically connects them to a "chatter box" (audio random words and touch tones). The rest of the calls get passed through. When you get a robo-call, you have a way to add it to the data base. If our customers have thousands of subscribers, the database grows as fast as the robo-callers can get numbers.

    Or we could have a robo-caller database in the cloud and one could send updates and periodically download it into a personal black list. (This might already exist?) fraught with potential abuse.


  • If you have not already seen it, "scammer payback" on you tube is fun to watch.

    I used to get a lot of calls from China. Each time I'd block the number and report them. Eventually I have a dual system now where I don't answer calls that are not already in my phone book along with asking people who do accidently get through if they can't get a proper job or if their grandparents know how they make a living.

    Last week I got the washing machine scam. She said my cover needed to be renewed. I told her I didn't know the company she claimed to be calling from and didn't have insurance with them.

    She insisted I did and read my name and address again as if this was some sort of proof.

    I told here to send me the renewall in the post with start and end dates of the existing contract, method of payment on the original contract and the make and model of my washing machine that is alledgedly insured with them.

    I don't expect it will ever arrive......

  • Hero Member

    @skywatch said in Help! Is there *any* way to squelch either robocalls or India call center telephone attacks to my phone?:

    asking people who do accidently get through if they can't get a proper job or if their grandparents know how they make a living.

    They're immune to that. I've even tried using all kinds of harsh language, and the very same person would call me back the next day--for the next five days--as though nothing had happened. They're relentless. Hanging up doesn't work. Harsh language doesn't work. Asking politely to never call again doesn't work. Trying to waste their time doesn't work. Not answering doesn't work. Nothing works. There is no way to turn them off.

    I do have spam call detection on my phones, and sometimes it works and sometimes not. Unfortunately, it rings the phone even if it thinks it may be spam. I'd prefer that it not ring at all if there's more than a 1% chance that it's spam.

    So, what to do? As a first step, I'm prepared to route all inbound calls directly into voicemail, without ringing the phone, and then I'll separate the wheat from the chaff after the fact. It's radical, but unless someone knows of a better way, I'm going to give it a try. It's main virtue is that it's simple, and it blocks 100%.

  • @NeverDie Sorry for your pain. Something that has worked for me: once I detect a robo-call I leave the phone on but just walk away. I let them hang-up on me. Seems that they never call me back. Plus, sometimes I remember and block them. I like skywatch's idea of a accept-list rather than a block-list.

    Due to my elder-care responsibilities, I must answer all calls because I’ve made so many inquiries and dearly need help. Funny, my mom doesn’t have the volume of robo-calls that I get. Maybe the calls are related to activity? Burner phones with friendly-forwarding-filters might help?
    I would have called you to deliver this message, but …

  • Hero Member

    I may try this: use an IVR, but the prompt will be "Please spell the first name of the person you are trying to reach." The corresponding number then connects the call. Anyone who really needs to reach me can figure out the prompt, but it should defeat all robocalls and, I'm guessing, most if not all of the human originated spammer/scammer calls. Worth a try, and then judge by the results. If need be, I could add further filtering with a prompt of "Please enter your callback number" And if that still isn't enough, I could add a message of "Please wait for 30 seconds while your call connects" and then add a 45 second delay before ringing for further frustration. Surely that would eliminate the scam callers who have no time for delays, yet still allow through anyone with a legitimate agenda. Meanwhile, family members would be given a secret code that would pass them through immediately and without delay. There are a number of open source IVR software packages, so I'm guessing regular VoIP hardware should interface with it over ethernet. Not sure, but IIRC, with some VoiP there may be a way to reveal the true originating phone number and see if it is a match for the Caller-ID, which nearly all the time is spoofed and therefore a glaring tell. It would make sense that such a way would exist, because a VoiP carrier would need to have a way to charge to the originator the cost of completing the call and plainly would not agree to rely on ordinary caller-id for that purpose as it does not provide a verifiable audit trail. Therefore, the carriers must have this info, and the only question is whether there's an API where that information could be retrieved in real time. I can think of no reason why it would be privileged information that would be withheld if specifically requested. Indeed, if it isn't free for the asking, there's probably a model where the carrier would gladly provide it by charging extra for such information.

    If this works, then I may get an additional VoiP number and only give that out instead of my actual cell phone number. Then, if possible, I'd program my cell phone to only accept filtered calls forwarded to me from that VoiP number. This way my cell phone would be also filtered.

  • Nomorobo.

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