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Spam and Scammer Phone Calls: Fighting Back

     
5:14 pm on May 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just about everyone must have had some kind of spam call, either automated, or the scammer calling to fix your computer, etc.

For a little while now there have been automated responses to these calls, and some of them are quite effective. However, with some you require a phone system, or a technology that allows you to forward calls. That's not always possible.

Of late i've had numerous calls from scammers spoofing their number to make it look legitimate. By the time i've realised it's a scammer, it's too late, it's interrupted me and thrown me from my swing.

I used to get annoyed with it, but then, I found it better to play along and have fun. It keeps my blood pressure lower. hehehe
There are, i'm sure you know, recordings to play back to the scammers which fool them that they are talking to a real person. You'll find numerous examples of these online.
Depending upon my mood, I will waste their time by playing stupid (it comes naturally, hehe): That method seems to be the best way to keep them busy, and while they are on to me they are not calling anyone else.
I made a recording of my own voice which I play down the phone, answering with simple "yes" and "ok" responses, and asking random questions. I ask them to please repeat as I didn't hear what they said, and I also mumble occasional responses. It does seem to have worked, and the longest somebody persisted was about six minutes. I didn't think that was too bad.
5:31 pm on May 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Back when I had time to waste (ah, the good ol' days...), I once got one of those "your computer has a virus" calls. I also acted like a dumb user and tried to sound very frightened. I told him my computer was turned off, but I would turn it on while he waited. Meanwhile, going back to work on my laptop (which really was on), every so often I'd talk to him:
"Sorry, my computer always boots slow. Just another minute."
"Hmmm, it does seem kinda slow today."
"Yeah, yeah, it definitely looks like there is a virus or something wrong with it- it doesn't usually take this long."
(Sounding really worried) "Wow, I've never seen it this slow. I hope you can help me!"
"Okay, it's almost there..."
"Okay, here we go. Wait, which computer did you say it was again? I have several."
scammer: "Your Windows machine."
me: "Huh? I don't have any Windows machines. You must have the wrong number. Bye!"
I didn't time it, but I think I might have beaten your 6 minutes.

Another time, I just said the computer is in another room and I have to go turn it on, then I put the phone down. I picked up the phone again a couple of minutes later, but he had given up.
5:33 pm on May 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I just lay down the phone and walk away. (And then, hours later, remember that it's still off the hook. I now keep it in the room with me so I'll hear when the phone company starts yelling.) It's fun to picture the spammer feeling increasingly foolish as it slowly dawns upon them that nobody is listening.

Of course I realize that, just like vanilla telemarketers, the person at the other end of the phone is not the one personally getting rich off the scam. But really, can't they find a more honorable line of work, like walking the streets?
6:08 pm on May 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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can't they find a more honorable line of work
I'm on the Do Not Call list and they are breaking the law by calling me. If they decide to work for a company that continuously breaks the law, I have no sympathy for them.
9:33 pm on May 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How to deal with a Telemarketer by Tom Mabe
[youtube.com...]
5:36 am on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Friend of mine with more time on hands than me let one of those critters into a VM sandbox then started probing the caller.

About half way through the "sales pitch" the caller began to wonder what was wrong with his system and why the mouse and...."

About that time somebody on the caller's end yelled DISCONNECT!

Turned the info over to local police without any expectations for results. Reminds me I need to ask what happened, if anything.
5:51 am on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I also keep my numbers updated on National & State Do Not Call Lists.

Because I'm mobile most of the time, I get the calls when I'm either driving or in other situations where I can't answer.

I report every spam call. Pretty easy to cut'n paste & auto-complete on the form using my Android phone.

The calls have actually slowed the last few months; getting only one or two a month now.
2:59 pm on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm on the Do Not Call list and they are breaking the law by calling me. If they decide to work for a company that continuously breaks the law, I have no sympathy for them.

Is that a special agreement between India, where the call centres are located, and the USA?
3:30 pm on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm on all the do not call lists, but only legitimate companies use those. The scammers don't care because they are "overseas" and there's no way they will be caught. They will just keep calling. The number spoofing is becoming a problem because, unless the spoofed number is in the system, if you're expecting calls you tend to have to answer it. Once answered, they've interrupted me, and that's the annoying part, so that's when the recording takes over.

That Tom Mabe one is a classic, and so well done, and so convincing.
5:24 pm on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is that a special agreement between India, where the call centres are located, and the USA?
Is what a special agreement?

My phone is in the U.S. and U.S. laws apply. Just because the call center is located overseas does not mean what they are doing is legal. It only means they're unlikely to receive any punishment.

Way back in the day, a few times I listened to the pitches and found out the U.S. company they were trying to promote. I then contacted the company and told them to put my number on their internal do not call list and reminded them that if I received any more solicitations on their behalf THEY would be liable for damages, even if they outsourced the actual work. Most of the times the company had no idea how the outsourced work was being done.
5:48 pm on May 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I just looked at my phone's block list & there's close to 600 & I've turned off the notification.