Spam phone calls



  • I've been getting an increasing amount of spam calls recently. One in particular that was interesting.

    I get a call from someone claiming to be dell (coming from a dell 800#). With a heavy indian accent, he verifies my name and tells me that they're been getting error notifications from my computer and he would like to remote into it.

    I've played around with them a few times, but never actually let them remote into my pc. I was thinking of setting up a VM that's not connected to anything just to see what they would do, but I'm too lazy. So eventually I started messing with them, and they started messing with me. Yesterday they called me and three of them could be heard in the background laughing and at the end they said it was a prank call.

    I think they also sold my # to some third parties that have started calling me. I'm on a do not call list, but obviously these spammers don't care.

    I've used nomorobo on my home line and that works great, but is not supported on my cell.

    Is there anything I can do to get these calls to stop? Is there any way to trace where they're coming from and get some fines levied upon them or at least block them? These guys obviously have access to some PBX so they can mask their #, so I can't just go off the caller ID.

    When Kevin Mitnick spoke at the Last HOPE, he mentioned that he has an asterisk set up with a toll free provider, so that all his incoming calls are caller id unblocked (since you can't block your caller id from 800 # ). Not sure if some kind of set up like that would help.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    Huh. Well if you're targeted I would think the most effective solution is to acquire a new number. Not sure how easy that is if you're not re-upping for service though...



  • If you make VOIP calls via your ISP, using your normal handsets connected to your modem/router, you can have that block any number or range of numbers you want. I suppose (I’ve not tested it) that it’ll just not pick up and let it ring as far as the caller is concerned, without you even being aware somebody’s trying to phone you.



  • @Gurth said in Spam phone calls:

    If you make VOIP calls via your ISP, using your normal handsets connected to your modem/router, you can have that block any number or range of numbers you want. I suppose (I’ve not tested it) that it’ll just not pick up and let it ring as far as the caller is concerned, without you even being aware somebody’s trying to phone you.

    There is no point blocking the # as they have a PBX and can generate any from # they want. Some #s are from local businesses.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Spam phone calls:

    Huh. Well if you're targeted I would think the most effective solution is to acquire a new number. Not sure how easy that is if you're not re-upping for service though...

    It's not at a point yet where it's really annoying me, but I would like to know what solutions exist in battling phone spam.



  • @russ0519 No common theme, then? If they always use the same area code and you can’t imagine who’d call you from that area code for real, you could block that, for example. A few years ago I occasionally received calls supposedly from the USA that hung up as soon as I picked up the phone and said my name. I didn’t block them, but it’d have been simple enough to filter them out based on the USA prefix, for example.



  • @Gurth said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 No common theme, then? If they always use the same area code and you can’t imagine who’d call you from that area code for real, you could block that, for example. A few years ago I occasionally received calls supposedly from the USA that hung up as soon as I picked up the phone and said my name. I didn’t block them, but it’d have been simple enough to filter them out based on the USA prefix, for example.

    No, a lot of calls will pretend to be from local area codes.

    If someone sends me a spam email, at least I can trace it using the IP and maybe block that IP. There must be something similar that happens with VOIP.


  • Banned

    I got one recorded call with the voice of current city mayor, asking for votes. He wouldn't get my vote before that anyway, and it didn't help him getting it.



  • @Gurth said in Spam phone calls:

    . A few years ago I occasionally received calls supposedly from the USA that hung up as soon as I picked up the phone and said my name.

    This is interesting as I get those calls all the time, and I was wondering what they were about. Usually I pick up, say hello or something and after about 10 seconds they hang up. I guess they're just collecting peoples names and adding that info to the phone # record.


  • BINNED

    @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    These guys obviously have access to some PBX so they can mask their #, so I can't just go off the caller ID.

    I'm not sure where you're from, but spoofing a number like that should probably not be something you're allowed to do by your provider. So whatever provider they are using probably doesn't check their alleged caller ID (or P-Asserted-Identity, if they are on SIP) properly.

    Unfortunately, you probably can't trace it back yourself, sadly, outside of a fuckup in one of the headers that might've survived the trip, but you'd need PBX logs for that even if it works...

    Are you against the possibility of reporting this to your telco or similar?

    @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    This is interesting as I get those calls all the time, and I was wondering what they were about. Usually I pick up, say hello or something and after about 10 seconds they hang up. I guess they're just collecting peoples names and adding that info to the phone # record.

    Likely a predictive dialer. They feed a list of numbers to the system and it starts dialing, If you answer it marks you as someone who they can potentially answer the call. Then they can manually dial just the numbers from that list. It's possible it's not that but it looks like one of those systems to me at a glance.



  • @russ0519 the most effective way I've gotten to almost 0 spam calls (used to get 4+ a day) was switching to Google voice, it filters out known spam callers for you actively, and allows block and reporting options. Plus Google voice allows for options on how people can ring you (time of night), (on your contact list), (block private numbers)



  • @Onyx often they are real numbers, but assigned to large outbound pools of numbers. For example Skype. They wire it up to use the outbound pool and the big providers handle the proxy for them. It's a design being abused from the original purpose, but it's basically tor for phones


  • BINNED

    @Matches Sure, but OP mentions the number appearing to be from Dell, by which I assume it comes up as registered to Dell when you look it up. Unless Dell has a huge pool that can be abused in that way, it sounds odd.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Matches I'm assuming that I'm seeing the same sort of thing with calls to my mobile, though since I simply don't answer any number I don't recognise, it's not too big a deal.



  • @Onyx depends on what is identifying them. If it's from a free app like white pages, or any of the lookup apps, it's easy enough to have your victim flag you as Dell if your spoofing as Dell. Get enough of those and get marked as a Dell number.

    Dell is also a big company, they could have decommissioned the number and later been picked up

    You can register a new number as Dell (display name) and most carriers don't care

    You can just straight up spoof the number and caller id.

    It's a pretty wide market of possibilities

    Of note, extending first paragraph down here because nodebb is deleting my text, some carriers include caller id app bundled with your phone software, and it's just as unreliable as the white page style app, but it's usually vendor specific and embedded into your call ui



  • I'd second the Google Voice option. You could even port the number to Google Voice.

    Or, you could also probably set the default ringtone to silence, and then set a custom ringtone for all your contacts. If you have to change their ringtones manually and there's a lot of them, this might be a bit of a chore (or if you can set a custom ringtone for an entire group of contacts, that'd be much less work)... but then your phone wouldn't ring when you get a call from someone who's not in your contacts.



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 the most effective way I've gotten to almost 0 spam calls (used to get 4+ a day) was switching to Google voice, it filters out known spam callers for you actively, and allows block and reporting options. Plus Google voice allows for options on how people can ring you (time of night), (on your contact list), (block private numbers)

    Well you don't switch to google voice. You get a GV # and it forwards to your phone (although i guess you can transfer ur # over, but you'd still have another #). My GV is fine, it's my regular # that GV forwards to that gets the spam calls.



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    You can just straight up spoof the number and caller id.

    This is what they're doing. It's not the caller ID i guess, but the # it shows up as dialing from belongs to Dell.

    Although last time they called me it was something like 82, that was the whole #.

    So yea they have the ability to spoof the #, my question is what can be done to counteract that.

    The actual spam calls don't bother me so much, I'm just interested in how this can be fought.

    nomorobo is pretty good, but not supported on GV or verizion.



  • @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    This is interesting as I get those calls all the time, and I was wondering what they were about. Usually I pick up, say hello or something and after about 10 seconds they hang up. I guess they're just collecting peoples names and adding that info to the phone # record.

    At the time this happened, I did a little research, and based on comments made online by others who had this happen to them, it appears to be people trying to gain access to your computer. IIRC, those who answered the phone with anything other than “hello” (like me) got hung up on immediately, while those who did say “hello” as the first thing after picking up found they were on the phone to a supposed Microsoft tech support person who wanted to check certain things about their computer.


  • area_can

    @russ0519 if you want to have fun with them, here's some inspiration:


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 the most effective way I've gotten to almost 0 spam calls (used to get 4+ a day) was switching to Google voice, it filters out known spam callers for you actively, and allows block and reporting options. Plus Google voice allows for options on how people can ring you (time of night), (on your contact list), (block private numbers)

    Well you don't switch to google voice. You get a GV # and it forwards to your phone (although i guess you can transfer ur # over, but you'd still have another #). My GV is fine, it's my regular # that GV forwards to that gets the spam calls.

    Yeah, in that case I wonder if you can set the handset to forward all calls to GV unless it's from your GV number... Probably not...



  • @Tsaukpaetra he can probably set it to forward all calls to GV and then set GV to ring hangouts instead of forwarding to his phone.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    @Tsaukpaetra he can probably set it to forward all calls to GV and then set GV to ring hangouts instead of forwarding to his phone.

    Yeah, it's tricky any way you look at it.



  • @russ0519 i paid $20 to move my number to Google voice, and cancelled all my carrier plans. I haven't paid for phone service for about 3 years.



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 i paid $20 to move my number to Google voice, and cancelled all my carrier plans. I haven't paid for phone service for about 3 years.

    I assume you mean landline?



  • @russ0519 no, i mean all phone services. I am 100% VoIP with Google hangouts/Google voice. I make no payments for phone service because I'm always attached to wifi.

    I bought a tmobile hot spot for emergency data if i need it while traveling, but I've only used it twice in three years, and it was for convenience not emergency.



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 no, i mean all phone services. I am 100% VoIP with Google hangouts/Google voice. I make no payments for phone service because I'm always attached to wifi.

    I bought a tmobile hot spot for emergency data if i need it while traveling, but I've only used it twice in three years, and it was for convenience not emergency.

    How are you always attached to wifi when on the go?



  • @russ0519 i don't make calls while driving. I don't text and drive. My work has wifi, my house has wifi, my friends have wifi, the store has wifi, and fast food has wifi, diners have wifi, the place that changes oil has wifi. You can't travel around town and spit without hitting wifi

    Edit: and i currently live in Alabama, so don't you try to tell me it's not a thing.

    It was in Oregon, Cali, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Utah, Nevada.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 i don't make calls while driving. I don't text and drive. My work has wifi, my house has wifi, my friends have wifi, the store has wifi, and fast food has wifi, diners have wifi, the place that changes oil has wifi. You can't travel around town and spit without hitting wifi

    Yeah, I regularly use < 200 Mb of cellular data thanks to this.
    Now if only I could stop my siblings from watching Youtube in 1080p at school for hours and racking up 6 gigs...



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 i don't make calls while driving. I don't text and drive. My work has wifi, my house has wifi, my friends have wifi, the store has wifi, and fast food has wifi, diners have wifi, the place that changes oil has wifi. You can't travel around town and spit without hitting wifi

    Edit: and i currently live in Alabama, so don't you try to tell me it's not a thing.

    It was in Oregon, Cali, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Utah, Nevada.

    I wouldn't even be able to drive without google maps and a data connection...


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    I wouldn't even be able to drive without google maps and a data connection...

    So long as you begin navigation while connected, you don't really need a data connection so long as you stay on the general route.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Spam phone calls:

    @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    I wouldn't even be able to drive without google maps and a data connection...

    So long as you begin navigation while connected, you don't really need a data connection so long as you stay on the general route.

    Unless you miss an exit or want updated traffic info...



  • @russ0519 said in Spam phone calls:

    I wouldn't even be able to drive without google maps and a data connection...

    You can download an area for offline navigation now. It will recalculate your route if you miss an exit. Unfortunately you have to be online to get traffic info. Can't help that.



  • @Matches said in Spam phone calls:

    I bought a tmobile hot spot for emergency data if i need it while traveling, but I've only used it twice in three years, and it was for convenience not emergency.

    I have a hotspot with a free service plan from a company called FreedomPop.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Spam phone calls:

    Now if only I could stop my siblings from watching Youtube in 1080p at school for hours and racking up 6 gigs

    Switch them to Sprint. Make 'em pay for unlimited data. My son regularly racks up 20-25GB a month because of HD YT.



  • @russ0519 Google maps doesn't need a data connection. Just download the map for your area and your phone works fine even if you go off route.i use maps extensively.



  • @FrostCat said in Spam phone calls:

    Switch them to Sprint. Make 'em pay for unlimited data. My son regularly racks up 20-25GB a month because of HD YT.

    T-Mobile allows unlimited free streaming from sites like YT now. It might be cheaper to get a plan that's limited if all the YT streaming doesn't count toward its limit.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    It might be cheaper to get a plan that's limited

    Well, yes, if you're not also trying to teach a lesson.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    T-Mobile allows unlimited free streaming from sites like YT now. It might be cheaper to get a plan that's limited if all the YT streaming doesn't count toward its limit.

    That's a scam and a net neutrality violation.

    1. Enact arbitrary data caps with no basis in reality, under the (untruthful) premise that it helps keep network congestion down
    2. Exempt some of the highest-data services around from the caps, thus proving that you were flat-out lying about point #1
    3. Watch journalists who don't understand basic math fall all over themselves praising your service
    4. ??? ??? ???
    5. Profit

    To draw an analogy, imagine if Superman used his heat vision to set a building on fire, and then rescued all the people inside, and everyone started gushing about what a great hero he was and completely ignoring the fact that he was the one who set the fire in the first place.


  • area_can

    @Matches ah, you lucky American bastard. : /



  • @masonwheeler they rate limit the video streams to 1.5 Mbps per stream, so the amount of data actually used by those high-data services is significantly reduced. And it's an opt-out feature; if you don't want them rate-limiting your video streams, you can turn it off and blow through all that extra data, which of course you'll still have to pay for.

    I don't see how it can violate net neutrality, given that the rate-limiting is meant to actually benefit the customer and the customer can always opt out if he doesn't like it.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    I don't see how it can violate net neutrality, given that the rate-limiting is meant to actually benefit the customer and the customer can always opt out if he doesn't like it.

    "I don't see how you can call that a hamburger, given that it doesn't have lettuce on it."

    "Because lettuce has nothing to do with the definition of a hamburger."



  • @masonwheeler huh. TIL that rate-limiting the calories on the hamburger in the "fit & trim" section of the menu, that people specifically can decide whether or not to order from, should be illegal.

    It's like ordering the $6 hamburger in the "under 500 calories" section and then suing them because it contains less calories than the $10 hamburger on the regular menu.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    @masonwheeler huh. TIL that rate-limiting the calories on the hamburger in the "fit & trim" section of the menu, that people specifically can decide whether or not to order from, should be illegal.

    It's like ordering the $6 hamburger in the "under 500 calories" section and then suing them because it contains less calories than the $10 hamburger on the regular menu.

    Again, you're missing the entire point of net neutrality. The principle is that the ISP is a dumb pipe and all packets are treated equally, without discrimination of either the positive or negative variety.

    If you don't understand why zero-rating is problematic, try looking into the reasons why so many countries, including India, Japan, and Chile, have banned it. (Hint: it has nothing whatsoever to do with your current line of argument.)



  • @masonwheeler said in Spam phone calls:

    The principle is that the ISP is a dumb pipe and all packets are treated equally, without discrimination of either the positive or negative variety.

    If that applies to how much they charge for the data in those packets, then virtually every cellular plan currently in existence is illegal.

    Also data usage limits are illegal, I guess. Packets I download before I've used x MB are treated differently than packets I download after.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    If that applies to how much they charge for the data in those packets, then virtually every cellular plan currently in existence is illegal.

    Voice communication over cellular doesn't count as "data" for the purposes of Net Neutrality.

    Whether or not it should is a different matter, and I can see good arguments for either perspective. But no, you're comparing apples to oranges here.



  • @masonwheeler did I say voice communication? No I did not.

    I was talking about cellular plans that included data. If you have one customer who's charged a rate that comes down to $x per megabyte while another customer's rate comes down to $y per megabyte, the one customer's packets are cheaper than the other's: illegal. And if someone's plan includes 4 GB of data, then packets under 4 GB are treated differently than those beyond 4 GB (whether they're blocked, or just rate limited): illegal.

    The only way to strictly follow that rule would be to charge every customer exactly the same rate per MB, possibly with a base charge added in but only if it does not depend in any way on the packets they send or receive.



  • @anotherusername You're still not getting what he's saying. Net neutrality says all packets cost $x (within a given person's plan - what someone else pays doesn't matter in this argument). When youtube doesn't count against your limit, then those packets have a different cost within that plan.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @anotherusername said in Spam phone calls:

    @masonwheeler did I say voice communication? No I did not.

    I was talking about cellular plans that included data. If you have one customer who's charged a rate that comes down to $x per megabyte while another customer's rate comes down to $y per megabyte, the one customer's packets are cheaper than the other's: illegal. And if someone's plan includes 4 GB of data, then packets under 4 GB are treated differently than those beyond 4 GB (whether they're blocked, or just rate limited): illegal.

    Well, you didn't say "data"; you said "cellular plans". To me, that means voice. Sorry if I misunderstood.

    Either way, you're still getting the entire point of Net Neutrality wrong. Please stop trying to throw straw "gotchas" at me and instead do a bit of research and educate yourself.

    The problematic discrimination in question is that it's a violation of Net Neutrality principles to treat traffic from different origins differently. If I watch 100 MB of video from YouTube and 100 MB of video from BobsAwesomeVideoSite.com, and the provider zero-rates the YouTube content because Google paid them $$$ for privileged access, but the video from Bob's site counts against my data cap, then Bob's site (and every other startup who can't afford to pay $$$ to the ISPs for privileged access) is being discriminated against, which is the entire point of Net Neutrality.



  • @masonwheeler said in Spam phone calls:

    The problematic discrimination in question is that it's a violation of Net Neutrality principles to treat traffic from different origins differently. If I watch 100 MB of video from YouTube and 100 MB of video from BobsAwesomeVideoSite.com, and the provider zero-rates the YouTube content because Google paid them $$$ for privileged access, but the video from Bob's site counts against my data cap, then Bob's site (and every other startup who can't afford to pay $$$ to the ISPs for privileged access) is being discriminated against, which is the entire point of Net Neutrality.

    That's not how it's being offered though. Anything that's detected as video gets optimized. Unless you decide to opt out; then nothing is. Or the site can opt out; then nobody gets optimized videos from their site. So far no sites have opted out, though.


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