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New Gadget Blocks 'Spam' Phone Calls 274

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-doesn't-sound-right dept.
Smivs writes "The BBC report on a new gizmo that can block/filter spam phone calls. The system basically intercepts all calls. If it recognizes them as a friend or a member of the user's family — numbers on the so-called star list created by the user — it lets them through as normal. If the caller's number is on a zap list — numbers of telemarketers or other nuisance callers — the device answers it, and all future calls from that number, with an automated message which means the phone does not ring at all. If the system doesn't recognize the caller's number, or the caller withholds their number, it asks them who they are, puts them on hold and then rings the user's phone. The user has the option of taking the call, having the system take a message, or they can reject the call and add the number to the 'zap' list. Users can add callers to their 'star' list by pressing the star button on their phone at any point during a call." So wait, they can't spam me twice? If I press a button? And if they actually show their phone number on my caller ID? What about the auto insurance scammers that hit me 10x/week?
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New Gadget Blocks 'Spam' Phone Calls

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:25AM (#25467227)

    The only criticism that I have is that it rings my phone at all (for an unrecognized number). I would prefer a system where an unknown caller (those not on the white list) has to first identify themselves as a real person (by keying some numbers) and then leave a message. The phone should only actually ring for whitelisted callers, everyone else should have to prove themselves human for the privilege of leaving a message.

    The most annoying calls now are the "robo-calls." What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing). This pisses me off because it means that my phone company is somehow in cahoots with these bastards and is essentially letting them hijack my phone line without my permission. What if I needed to make an emergency call and had to wait for the robo-call to go through all its "great offers" before I could even dial out?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spazztastic (814296)

      The only criticism that I have is that it rings my phone at all (for an unrecognized number). I would prefer a system where an unknown caller (those not on the white list) has to first identify themselves as a real person (by keying some numbers) and then leave a message.

      This would be a great option for it, however it could be looked at as annoying for the caller. The reason I got rid of my land line when I moved is because of all of the telemarketers, robo-calls, etc. It got to the point where I wouldn't answer unless I recognized the number anyway. If it was an important call, they would probably leave a message anyway.

      • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:53AM (#25467623) Journal

        I've been using Vonage for quite awhile now, signed up for the do not call registry, and if I don't recognize the number or it is not shown, I simply do not answer. Life has been much simpler doing that.

        Truly, if it is important they will leave a message. I refuse to let my life be ruled by the ringing of a phone or the whims of another person who wants my attention. Leave a message, I'll get back to you ... sometime... if you're nice.

        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:07AM (#25468673) Homepage

          VoIP is definitely the way to go. we really shouldn't need to purchase/install another device just to have automated control over our phone line. seems like with an open VoIP standard and an open source VoIP handset, you could just program such behavior directly into the phone. there's really no need for special hardware.

          the other thing to do is regulate cold-calling (whether commercial or political/non-profit). force all automated cold-callers to be registered in an online database. when you receive a cold call, the caller will send you its number/ID that your VoIP phone will automatically look up on the online database and handle the call appropriately (e.g. hang-up/block all commercial calls, or take a message if it's a non-profit caller and save the voice message to a special inbox).

          VoIP systems can also be easily extended. for instance, you can require anonymous callers to enter a password that you'd only give out to friends. that way if a friend needs to reach you from an anonymous line they can still get by your call filter. you just can't do this type of thing with traditional cellular or landlines because they're on proprietary networks.

          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            Interesting idea but I'm afraid it won't ever happen as it would not only put the telemarketers out of business (and I bet this is a pretty powerful lobby if only for the number of people they employ), it would cost the phone companies revenue as less calls are made.

            And this would also assume the telemarketers would follow the rules and publish their numbers correctly and so...

      • by gid (5195) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:08AM (#25467813) Homepage

        Annoying for the caller? Too fucking bad. If you can't be bothered to enter the numbers, then I can't be bothered to answer the call.

        I've always dreamed about such a device, basically a little captcha for the phone. I work from home and get tons of robo calls, and even if it's not a robot talking on the phone, marketing firms usually have some machine dialing the call and then hand it off to someone once the machine determines there's a human on the line. Ever wonder why you say hello and it takes the person on the other end a few seconds to respond? That's why. Phone captcha would eliminate these calls... at least for awhile until someone beats the captcha.

        • I've always dreamed about such a device, basically a little captcha for the phone.

          Been able to do this with Asterisk for a long time now. Only reason I haven't implemented it is that I can't find a usable card for a decent price. The old "use so-and-so modem" trick has proven more risk than reward. :(

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Soruk (225361)

            I do this on my Asterisk system by having an answering machine on my POTS line give out an 0870 (expensive to call) number that forwards to my VoIP phone number. My friends and family have the real number (so don't pay the 0870 call rate). The ringer is switched off (as is the speaker) on my answerphone so I don't hear it ring, it doesn't disturb me and the call spammers don't generally like to call 0870 numbers. It's a win-win. :)

            Also, whocallsme.com [whocallsme.com] is a very useful site in looking up the caller IDs of c

        • a phone captcha would be annoying and probably easier to beat than text captchas. I have a hard enough time understanding foreign tech support personal nevermind things that are intentionally difficult to understand.

          You want to know what works better than anything else and will guarantee to get rid of all your spam calls?

          Tell them you're on a cellphone... it's that simple. The way the laws are setup they can spam you all they want as long as it isn't costing you money, it doesn't technically cost you
          • [...] receive a call on a lan line [...] have your number moved from a LAN line [...] you can just LIE to them on a LAN line [...]

            The first one I thought was just a typo, but it's landline [wikipedia.org] and has nothing to do with Local Area Networks.

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:37AM (#25469277) Journal

          I work from home and get tons of robo calls, and even if it's not a robot talking on the phone, marketing firms usually have some machine dialing the call and then hand it off to someone once the machine determines there's a human on the line. Ever wonder why you say hello and it takes the person on the other end a few seconds to respond? That's why. Phone captcha would eliminate these calls... at least for awhile until someone beats the captcha.

          Buy a Telezapper.
          http://www.telezapper.com/ [telezapper.com]

          When you (or your answering machine) picks up the phone, the telezapper plays a dialtone.
          Humans just hear a tone, auto-dialers interpret it as "this line has been disconnected"

          I got one for my parents, long before the Do Not Call list and after around a month, as your number gets taken off of auto-dialing lists, it makes a huge difference in the volume of calls that come in.

          You can also do it, like I did for myself, by recording the tone [astreet.com] onto the beginning of an answering machine message, but the telezapper works whenever you pick up the phone. So if you're fine with letting every "unknown number" go to the answering machine (my parents were not) you can implement the Telezapper's $40 functionality for free.

        • Back when I actually answered my land line, if I ever heard total silence on the other end, I would not say anything and just wait. The telemarketer computer generally hung up after a few seconds.

          These days, my phones are set to not ring, I have no voicemail/answering machine, and I don't answer it. People who know me call my cell phone. The landline is generally for outbound calls only.

          I was seriously considering getting this product: http://www.privacycorps.com/products/?id=4 [privacycorps.com] though they seem to be per

    • by theaveng (1243528)

      It's a lot easier to just put your name on a Do Not Call list. Since I've done that I've had virtually zero telemarketer calls.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fotbr (855184)

        That works great, except for all the organizations that managed to get themselves exempted from the Do Not Call list. Political campaigns being the biggest offender. And retards from both sides are calling 1-2 times an hour from about 7-9pm almost every evening since August. Isn't living in a swing-state fun?

        • by theaveng (1243528)

          I live in the swing state of Pennsylvania and have not noticed a barrage of calls. Actually just one from McCain and that's it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by scotts13 (1371443)
          Best way to avoid this is to never register to vote. Cuts way back on the political calls (mailings, too.) I've never received either.
        • Or the telemarketers who are just flat-out illegal anyway. For example, I get calls for that "extended auto warranty" crap on my cell phone!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        I *am* on the "do not call list." I still get at least two or three of these calls a day. They just masquerade themselves as "surveys" or non-profits (or give me the "We are calling on behalf of your credit card company to tell you about this great offer..." line) to get around the do not call list.
        • by theaveng (1243528)

          Then you need to get their company name and location, and file a complaint in small claims. You can get $500 per call if they violate your "do not call" rights.

          Or you can complain on the do-not-call website, which is easier, but won't net you any money.

          • by elrous0 (869638) *
            They're not violating the do not call law. They're just taking advantage of loopholes for non-profits, survey calls, political calls, and companies you've done business with in the last 90 days.
      • by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:48AM (#25467549)

        I live in an area with a high Hispanic population, and coincidentally have a Spanish last name. I've been on the DNC list for years, but I get all kinds of telemarketers trying to scam me in Spanish. (It's pretty obvious that these are not legitimate nonprofits or companies. They hang up on me once they find out I speak English.) Blocked CID, of course, so it's hard to report them.

        They're counting on the fact that most of their Spanish-speaking targets are either unaware of the DNC and other laws, or more likely are illegal and thus afraid to report them to the Feds.

        And that's ignoring the peole who are "Conductiing a survey about your telephone service" or "Conducting a survey about how you recieve television"

    • End vs. flash (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing).

      How long did you leave the phone on-hook? You might have to hold it a few more seconds so that the exchange can determine that you're trying to end the call and not perform a flash [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        Doesn't matter, it WILL NOT let you hang up on them, no matter how many seconds you leave the phone on the hook. I noticed this when a friend mentioned that he had tried to hang up on one and couldn't. The next time I got one, I tried the same thing and sure enough, it wouldn't let me hang up on it until it had played all the way through. This isn't the case with normal telemarketer calls, only the "robo-calls" (which used to be just political hit-jobs, but now have expanded out to sales calls too).
        • Some older phone switches wouldn't disconnect until both phones were hung up. The robo caller of course can't tell that your phone is hung up.

    • by clickety6 (141178)

      Yep, make any non-whitelisted caller enter a random three-digit number before they are connected. That will get rid of any robo-callers and probably a lot of annoying spammers who couldn't be bothered to keep keying in numbers each time...

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'd like to see it made a felony to have a computer instigate a call. Who's with me?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Emb3rz (1210286)

        Not I.

        I'd like to have certain programs of mine call my cell phone to alert me to problems with pre-recorded messages. So far I've been too lazy to adapt them to do such, but my point is that this is something I would consider useful. By no stretch of the imagination do I believe it should ever be considered a felony to automatically contact a person.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Having your own computer call you should be legal, and having a computer call with your permission should be legal, but it REALLY pisses me off when I answer the phone at work (I don't have a home landline, just a cell) and a goddamned computer asks me to hold for some asshat who thinks his time is more valuable than mine.

          I just hang up. They can go to hell (and probably will).

      • While I see your point, I kind of agree with the other poster who replied.

        What I want is a system where when I press the # and * buttons on the phone simultaneously, the phone company sends 10 million volts (AC, at 120Hz, please) through the line to the device on the other end. This will not only get rid of robo-dialers, but also fax machines dialing the wrong number repeatedly and most telemarketers. (The ones that are selling a product people actually want might survive. Maybe. I'm not really sure - a

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Emb3rz (1210286)
          <Zybl0re> get up
          <Zybl0re> get on up
          <Zybl0re> get up
          <Zybl0re> get on up
          <phxl|paper> and DANCE
          * nmp3bot dances :D-<
          * nmp3bot dances :D|-<
          * nmp3bot dances :D/-<
          <[SA]HatfulOfHollow> i'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet

          Prior art. ;)
      • by chinakow (83588)
        that would make faxing a real pain in the ass. Also, a felony? Taking away someone's right to vote because they are an ass? I sort of like the idea but I want to see how the term ass is defined once it has been through a committee or two.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          If you gave your permission for a computer to call it would be allowed. Fax spam is even worse, if you fax me without my permission you should do twice the time you would for just having your computer put me on hold because your inflated sense of self-importance makes you think your time is more valuable than mine, because I PAY FOR HE GODDAMNED PAPER.

      • I'd like to see it made a felony to have a computer instigate a call. Who's with me?

        How about a mandatory nominal connection fee (like 5 cents or something) per call, paid from the caller to the reciever. wouldn't affect your grandmother calling to wish you a merry christmas, but would probably deter cold callers making '00000s of calls.

      • My university recently implemented an emergency warning that would violate that law.

        However, I agree with you, if it were amended to say "...without prior, explicit written consent." Of course, the real issue is, how would you enforce such a thing? All the telemarketing calls I get are illegal anyway (on several levels, since I only use a cell phone), but I don't see anything getting done about them.

    • by GalacticCmdr (944723) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:11AM (#25467851)

      The most annoying calls now are the "robo-calls." What really infuriates me about them is that I can't seem to hang up on them (if you try to hang up and pick up the phone later, the message is still playing). This pisses me off because it means that my phone company is somehow in cahoots with these bastards and is essentially letting them hijack my phone line without my permission. What if I needed to make an emergency call and had to wait for the robo-call to go through all its "great offers" before I could even dial out?

      I write robo-call software and when something like that happens it is the fault of your local carrier. Many of the local carriers in the US have been getting lazy about sending the proper signals when a connection is disconnected. It is up to the carriers to send this signal. I can regularly call my boss' landline and get a difference of 30 seconds between when he hangs up and when I finally get the signal has been disconnected.

      • by xerxesVII (707232) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:26AM (#25468061)

        I write robo-call software...

        I'd like to take a moment to thank you for your tireless efforts to make the world a better place.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by KeX3 (963046)

        "And you, sir, are worse than Hitler."

      • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:21AM (#25468935)

        I write robo-call software

        Of all the times not to hit the "Post Anonymous" check box.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by GalacticCmdr (944723)

          I write robo-call software

          Of all the times not to hit the "Post Anonymous" check box.

          Why? I take a great deal of pride in the work that I have done on this software. Currently with minimal resources my code can sustain about 2000 simultaneous calls all day long. We also do bulk emails, pagers, and faxes with IMs happening sometime next year.

          There is a difference between taking pride in the code as written and the way it is used. However, on that second point I have no complaints either. Our customers are first responders, government entities, and businesses (of the non-telemarketer varie

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by genner (694963)

            I would post the name of my company, but our poor corporate server would last only seconds against Slashdot.

            In that case just post a phone number.

      • by TheCarp (96830) *

        Well then know this.... my policy... if an automated system calls me and tells me to hold. I hang up. If you can't be bothered to have a real person on the phone from the moment that I pick up, then you obviously don't need to talk to me that bad.

        I find it absolutely infuriating to get a call like that. You ring my phone, thus interrupting whatever I am doing, and then... tell me to hold for you? Who the hell do you think I think you are?

        -Steve

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grub (11606)
      I have a similar box (Caller ID Manager) from PrivacyCorps.com which intercepts the first ring and checks the caller ID. We have a Panasonic wireless setup with 4 handsets from which the base station is fed from the CID unit. Bad CID? We never even get that first ring. The call is routed to another plug on the device where we have an answering machine telling the caller we don't take calls from their number.

      We've blocked all 800, 866, 888, 000, 123-456-7890, etc. The thing works beautifully.
  • Do Unto Others ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:25AM (#25467229) Journal

    What about the auto insurance scammers that hit me 10x/week?

    You can't reason with scammers, they use playground logic. Scam 'em back with a not so new gadget [wikipedia.org].

  • Partially useful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:27AM (#25467265) Homepage

    For me, this would cut out the "firefighters" and "police" charitable funds, and a couple of others that call locally. But the ones that really irk me are the "lower your credit card interest rates" that I get every few days, and it's different caller id each time. Usually falsified caller id. So I would still end up getting about the same number of nuisance calls.

    What would be optimal would be the FCC doing their job and shutting the scammers down, but I'm not holding my breath.

    • Re:Partially useful (Score:5, Informative)

      by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:41AM (#25467451) Homepage Journal

      For me, this would cut out the "firefighters" and "police" charitable funds, and a couple of others that call locally. But the ones that really irk me are the "lower your credit card interest rates" that I get every few days, and it's different caller id each time. Usually falsified caller id. So I would still end up getting about the same number of nuisance calls.

      First of all, don't EVER give money to these "firefighters" and/or "police" charitable funds. Many, many scammers pose as these charitable organizations, and they only want your credit card/checking account info. Also, even if such a charity is legitimate, there's no reason to fund their administrative costs, money that doesn't go to the police or firefighters, money that pays for them to—you guessed it—make more telemarketing calls.

      If you want to support your local firefighters and/or police, call them and tell them that you'd like to make a donation. I assure you that they will be more than happy to accept your kindness, and best of all, they will make use of 100% of the money you donate, not pay people to bother yet more people by making unsolicited calls.

      Second of all, you're missing part of how this gadget works. If you're not on the whitelist or the blacklist, you'll be asked to say your name. It then rings your line and tells you what the name of the person is who is calling. Or, at least, what they recorded as their name. At that point, you can either answer, whitelist them, or blacklist them.

      I suppose your phone might still ring, which could be considered a nuisance, but you're never actually talking to the idiot who is calling you, and there's a measure of satisfaction knowing that they're getting a message that says something like, "This person is refusing to take your call. Have a nice day!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >I assure you that they will be more than happy to accept your kindness, and best of all, they will make use of 100% of the money you donate, not pay people to bother yet more people by making unsolicited calls.

        Is this true? When I worked in the NPO world, fundraising was an expense in the budget. All money collected while fundraising when into the budget. There wasnt a special budget for people who called directly for donations. It all goes into the pool. Perhaps it would be best to write a letter telli

  • Nothing new here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by orkybash (1013349) <tim@bocek.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:27AM (#25467269)
    Phone whitelist services which make callers you're unsure about go through an extra prompt have existed at least since I was a kid. They're annoying as hell to legitimate callers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadKeithV (102058)
      Just like locked doors are annoying as hell to legitimate visitors.
  • Asterisk (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpooForBrains (771537) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:30AM (#25467313)
    I'm pretty sure that all the above and more is possible with an asterisk setup.
    • by neowolf (173735)

      Yep. I've been doing this for about two years with a simple Asterisk setup.

      • Google's grandcentral offers this (they call it call screening), and they offer more too. Currently in Beta. Currently free.

        http://www.grandcentral.com/home/features [grandcentral.com]

        Screen Callers
        Know who's calling and screen unknown callers

        ListenInTM
        Hear why someone is calling before taking the call

        Call Record
        Record calls on the fly and access recordings online

        Block Callers
        Unwanted callers won't be able to reach you anymore

        Notifications
        Receive voicemail notifications via email or SMS

        Ring Different Phones
        One number that r

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mollymoo (202721)

      I'm pretty sure that all the above and more is possible with an asterisk setup.

      With a machine shop you can build a car. Most people prefer to buy one ready made though.

    • I chased this idea for a few days... bought an NSLU and a Sipura 3002, installed asterisk, and got the incoming call handling working beautifully. Unfortunately I could not figure out how to get asterisk configured to do outgoing calls. I'm sure outgoing calls are doable in asterisk somehow, but it wasn't obvious, and the info on how to configure asterisk in any given context (for a specific purpose with specific hardware) is scattered to the four winds on the internet. And I found asterisk's scripting la
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:32AM (#25467333)
    There is a crazy girlfriend option for Asterisk that you can have a blacklist and the phone never rings either. Actually, you can have rules as complicated as you like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Farhood (975274)

      ...and GrandCentral [grandcentral.com]. Lord knows I record or "listinIn" _every_ incoming call from an unknown number and then send the telemarketers "to spam" where I never have to worry about them again.

      GrandCentral also has its own spam filter of (supposed) telemarketers, and the application allows friends and family to get right through.

  • by Monty Worm (7264) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:34AM (#25467363) Journal
    I remember reading about a gadget in Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land that did a better job than this.

    If you want to talk to me, deposit $midrange_sum_of_money . I will stop what I'm doing and respond to you. If I think the interruption was justified, you'll get your money back. Otherwise, it's a donation to the Charity of Me. Obviously you can let some people bypass this, at least at some times of the day.

    Implicit in this is the belief that if you don't trust me with your cash, or you feel that you don't want to risk the money on my whims, leave a message. And there should be a much smaller charge here too, just to stop the telemarketers clogging that also.

    $sum needs to be fairly large, but not cripplingly so. A day's pay? Hmmm. Maybe I should just get an 0906 number for my house....

  • How it works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PearsSoap (1384741)
    So, basically, it has a local blacklist and whitelist. Except that

    In future, there are plans for the device to be able to download a list of blacklisted numbers from a central database, which can be dialled into via a modem inside the box.

    And this will be updated by the users. It might just work.
    I'm more impressed by the whole "virtual receptionist" aspect. That could be handy.

  • Unlisted Numbers (Score:3, Informative)

    by dmomo (256005) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:44AM (#25467489) Homepage

    That's the problem I would have. Probably more than half of the calls I get that are unlisted are calls that I want. The other half are telemarketers. Even though I am on the "Do Not Call" registry, they get around it by either:

    a) Pretending to get the wrong number, hanging up quickly when I call them on it.
    b) Have some loose (and yes, sometimes legitimate) connection to a "Not for profit and Tax Exempt" business which, at least in Massachusetts is enough for the registry to not apply
    c) Is a survey related to some business connection I have. Credit Card companies who sold my info etc.

    None of these three are calls that I would pick up, but I just don't see this device weeding them out. I suppose if this device could "answer" then ask for a name, and instead of ringing, play the recorded name... otherwise hang up. That would be good.

  • This is basically what the "Privacy Manager" feature does on American networks like AT&T, albeit a bit more restrictive. It would answer any calls with no Caller ID automatically, and allow people to record their name; then the Privacy Manager would call you and ask if you want to take the call (similar to the way a collect call works). It would let through all calls with valid Caller ID, though, instead of using a whitelist. We used to have it on our old landline service; unfortunately, our current

  • by sam0737 (648914) <samNO@SPAMchowchi.com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:49AM (#25467559)

    ...call into this auto-answer system?

    Will two robot start chatting together? We should definitely put some recording to watch them or else the first two machines that pass turning test might gone unnoticed.

  • by Capn_Snazzy (785218) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:50AM (#25467577) Homepage
    but I would love to set up a touch tone menu for just the telemarketers. --press 1 if you are an annoying caller --press 2 if you are probably just trying to waste my time --press 3 if your intention is to sell me something --press 4 if you just want me to answer your questions for free --but not actually buy anything --press 5 for another menu --press 6 to hear these options again --press 7 seven three three... two three three... five five..one to connect to a live operator (really it would just be another menu but this time with 130 different options spoken in a heavy Scottish slang)
  • Voicemail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Leif_Bloomquist (311286) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:52AM (#25467615) Homepage

    Every couple of days I get a "spam" message from a telemarketer, left directly on my voicemail. The phone never actually rings. That's about as frequent as real telemarketer calls. Doesn't sound like this system would stop those, unfortunately.

  • by gadlaw (562280) <gilbert.gadlaw@com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:53AM (#25467633) Homepage Journal
    Nothing gets my blood pressure rising more than phone calls coming in that are not welcomed. I pay for the phone and it's not for advertisers, political pleadings, scammers and assorted idiots who think I owe them the time of day. I just looked at Amazon and it's not there, make this available to the US and you have a best seller.
  • How dare we answer their robot dialers with a robot answerer!

    The telespammers "time" is very valuable :)

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      That's a good one...
      I have an Asterisk setup that rejects calls from blacklisted numbers, i should configure it to play ads until the caller hangs up.

  • by noundi (1044080) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:54AM (#25467647)
    Isn't it hilarious? The industry has created such an itch that people actually PAY to get rid of them. The mafia of this century, and this time it's legal!
  • For the land line, no tech needed other than an answering machine. You call, you leave a message, and if I know (and want to talk to) you I pick up. If you don't say anything, then you're either a spammer or it probably wasn't very important to begin with.

    Bonus: No Caller ID here, so I'm not even responsible for knowing you called (and thus for returning it) if you don't leave a message.

  • This is really easy to do with Asterisk, however- implementing an Asterisk setup at home is a bit challenging. It's nice to see something like this made into an appliance. This is especially true since you don't have to pay extra for a carrier's "privacy" features to get it.

  • Revenge (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:58AM (#25467693) Homepage Journal

    About fifteen or so years ago I had a modem that came with Cheyenne Bitware voicemail software. It was pretty cool, I set something up similar to this gizmo in TFA.

    I had it set up so the voicemail messages and callers went thhrough the PC speakers, so if someone I actually wanted to talk to came on I'd just answer. (caller ID showed the number).

    "Hello" (pause so it sounded like a person answered and they would start talking) "Hi, you have reached the mcgrew residence. Press one if you wish to leave a message, two if you are a telemarketer, three if you are with a charity, four of you wish to conduct a survey, five if you represent a political candidate who wants my vote...

    I had every chioce leading down a labrynthian rabbit-hole that went in circles. Friends and family knew to hit any key twice or just leave a message.

    Much hilarity ensued.

    My 77 year old dad, when he gets a telemarketer, just lays the phone down and lets them talk, checking periodically to see if they're still on the line. They want to waste your time? Tit for tat. Telemarketers are WORSE than spammers IMO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      My 77 year old dad, when he gets a telemarketer, just lays the phone down

      This is very useful. I typically will do it like this .....

      ME: Can you hold on a sec, I'm right in the middle of __________.

      THEM: Sure.

      Me: COOL! (set phone down) .... five minutes later ...

      ME: You still there? Sorry, but this is taking a bit longer than I thought, could you hold a bit longer ????

      (wash rinse repeat) I have a record of almost 40 minutes for one poor idiot, before he caught a clue.

      Other Hillarious ways to deal with it... pretend to be having sex while chatting with them ..."honey, you know wh

  • I already do this using Asterisk...

    Callers who withhold their number hear a message asking them to unblock their caller id,
    Callers with blacklisted numbers get a message telling them their number is blacklisted,
    Callers in my whitelist ring my phone at any time of the day or night,
    Any other callers ring only during the day, and go direct to voicemail at night.

    What i want tho, is something like this for my mobile... I get a lot more junk calls on my mobile, on the landline i'm usually not in and therefore don

  • A little "firewall" app for iPhone called MCleaner has the exact same functionality and only costs $20.

  • You know that some lobbyist will pay some legislator (who has their own spam callers, every re-election season) to make this illegal.

    We need to then find that legislator, and shoot him/her.
    We need to then find that lobbyist, and impale them as an example to others.

    Then all will be just a little more 'right' with the world.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:12AM (#25467867)

    I see every unsolicited call as an opportunity. If I am in a hurry there are a number of quick responses.

    The "National Security drop number" is a good one. You sound agitated and ask them what their security clearance is. When they don't understand you say "this is a top secret number - hos did you get this?". Whatever they say you then become really calm and say "O..K.. don't worry. Just stay on the line and we will soon have this resolved". Move the phone away from your mouth and ask "how is the trace going.... good". They usually hang up really soon.

    Another good one is to ask them for their number so you can call them back. Say you never trust anyone unless you made the call. Some actually will give you a number, which you pretend to write down but ignore

    Another is the "sexual interest". This takes a little longer, because you have to start by listening as normal. After a bit you say something like "you know, you sound really hot. Do you live anywhere near (somewhere a long way away)?". If they don't hang up then you can start asking what they are wearing, etc. This works really well for other men, they usually can't wait to get off the line. (I wouldn't go to far, I don't think anyone would try to prosecute you for harassing them when they made the call, but stay legal)

    Then there's the "in the same line of business". This can actually be used for a quick call, but its best to wait until they finish. Note down a few points then respond with something better. "Actually I work for associated life insurance, and whereas you can guarantee 4% growth I can offer you a policy that will guarantee 4.2%, plus with a discount on the first six months premiums.

    Another one is to listen all the way through and then decline for a really illogical reason. They are well rehearsed at the "can't afford it", "already have an alternative" and so on - but "well I would really love too. But you are called Acme associates. I'm afraid that is just incompatible with my star sign. Especially when you call on a Wednesday"

    There are plenty more but you get the picture. They are giving you an opportunity for fun.

    • by CDS (143158)
      While that approach definitely has merit, it takes too much time and can be too subtle.

      I prefer the direct approach: an airhorn blown right into the microphone.
    • My brother has aonther good trick. Anyone offring to sell any home product his says "yes" please come out to my place and we can talk. This works for realestate people and roffers and painters and so on. Then he gives them the address of the house across the street. This is good because if seriously wastes their time and costs them money.

  • The one thing that may motivate my lazy ass to build a home VOIP system would be to have a CID blacklist feature.

    And even better, a distributed MAPS-style CID blacklist, pointing to say whocalled.us or some similar service.

  • Judging by the responses here nuisance calls are about two orders of magnitude more of a problem in the US than in the UK. Here, if as an individual you opt out of marketing calls you don't get any - that includes charities and political parties. They clamp down hard and fast on people who break the law (it is illegal, not just a breach of your terms and conditions). Many businesses have consent for marketing in their standard contracts, but I've only had a few such calls in my life and if you tell them to

    • by igb (28052)

      Judging by the responses here nuisance calls are about two orders of magnitude more of a problem in the US than in the UK. Here, if as an individual you opt out of marketing calls you don't get any - that includes charities and political parties. They clamp down hard and fast on people who break the law (it is illegal, not just a breach of your terms and conditions). Many businesses have consent for marketing in their standard contracts, but I've only had a few such calls in my life and if you tell them to

  • This kind of product has been out for years. Oh, this one probably has some option that all the others don't, but it's about as much "news" as "Dell's next laptop will come in olive green".

  • Modern phones have programmable phonebooks built in. It would be very easy to have something like this added to the phone options: if the number isn't in my phonebook, don't ring.
  • This is NOT new. Anyone using Asterix has likey programmed their system to do just that. You can have it do whatever you like.

    ONe trhing is that telemarketers and certainly scammers will block their caller ID. So you don't gt any number. These calls would go to an automated system that asked them questions and has them press numbers. The questions never (literally near) end... If you are a telemarketer press 3, if you are selling household goods press1, services ppress 3,,,,,, please enter you suoe siz

  • What about the auto insurance scammers that hit me 10x/week?

    You'd think they'd get a clue after you'd told them to FO 100 times. I found devices like this [kuzsports.com] to be very effective.

  • by erc (38443)

    Uh, this isn't new - a friend of mine in Des Moines has had one of these for at least three years. Maybe new to the Brits?

  • There's a pretty easy way to get this done already. You just let the answering machine get every call after 0.001 rings, and only listen to it once per day to figure out who to call back. What situation would it be where someone would need you to call back immediately and they couldn't physically knock on your door, if it was all that urgent?

  • First, let me say that I'm an Asterisk consultant with experience of the SOHO and SME marketplaces (plus a few Enterprise level call centres). I have a lot of experience of what people want from their phones. I'd also add that my home number has had this feature on it for the past three years!!

    I would be very surprised if they shifted a lot of these boxes in the UK. Nuisance calls aren't as much of a problem as they are in the US and I simply can't see that many people thinking it worth while spending GBP10

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