Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]

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Is this even possible - given the resources of a government?

I keep getting these lame-sounding letters from the Pennsylvania
(USA) AG's office explaining why they can't do anything about
telephone solicitors calling my cell phone.

The reason given is that they are offshore, spoofing CallerID,
and/or relaying calls through multiple servers.

But the cynic in me thinks that if those same calls were to a
high-ranking politician, perhaps threatening bodily harm... that
the NSA would be all over the perp in a matter of days - if not
hours or minutes.

Am I wrong?
--
PeteCresswell


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
(PeteCresswell) wrote:
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Perhaps you're right, given the vast technology that the NSA has.  Then
again, they have enough to do without tracking down calls that are only
a civil nuisance.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
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Yes, you are,  

But not necessarily for the reasons you think.   <grin>

_IF_ the call originates outside the country, the State AG's office doesn't
have the legal authority to demand info about the caller from that 'foreign'
telephone company.

Also, the NSA, being a _Federal_ agency does =not= 'take orders' from _any_
state agency.

'Spoofed' caller-id is 'merely' an impediment to tracing the call, not an
absolute barrier.  Your phone company _has_ records of where that call that
made your phone ring 'came from' -- either the line _within_ that phone
company, *or* the 'trunk' from another phone company it came in over. (they
are guaranteed to have that information, along with start/end times  -- for
inter-telco 'settlement', if nothing else).  If the call came to them from
'another phone company', then _that_ phone company has the same information
about where _they_ got the call.  "And so on", back to the call origin.

Unfortunately, the telco 'settlement' data is _NOT_ organized in a manner
that makes it 'easy' to find a particular call record.  Thus telco's will
frequently claim that the information requested is just 'not available'.

Tracing a call back to it's origin this way is slow, time-consuming, and
_expensive_.


It is a fact -- an unfortunate one, but a *fact* nonetheless -- that the
State AG office has a _limited_ budget to work with.  They _have_ to
'prioritize' the things they investigate and/or prosecute. How they do
that _is_ their prerogative.  Generally, they go for the things that give
the most benefit to the most people, for the least 'cost'.

Like it or not, the 'proscribed' calls to your cell phone _are_ a very
low priority item -- tracking down and eliminating any _particular_
perpetrator simply wouldn't make much of an impact on =any= recipient
of those calls, *NOR* would it make any significant difference in the
over-all problem.

Now, if -you- can identify _who_ the caller is, and establish that
they're inside the U.S.A., such a complaint to the AG has a _much_
better chance of action.  In fact, you can also sue them directly.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
Robert Bonomi wrote:
r-all problem.
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Exactly.  But, you better be prepared to pay your attorney up-front.  A
retainer of $20,000 would be a good starting place.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
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Male bovine excrement applies.  It's within the size limits [for]
"small-claims" in virtually every jurisdiction.

***** Moderator's Note *****

One time only, just because it's a sunny day. There's enough bovine
excrement in the world already, so don't make a habit of it. ;-)

Bill Horne
Moderator


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
+--------------------------------------------------------------+

Date: Sat, 16 Jul 2011 18:25:54 -0700
To: redacted@invalid.telecom-digest.org.
Subject: Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers?

Robert Bonomi wrote:
r-all problem.
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Exactly.  But, you better be prepared to pay your attorney up-front.  A
retainer of $20,000 would be a good starting place.

In Great Britain, dialling 14258** after an unwanted call bars it; this
seems to work even after a mobile call; do you have such a thing in the
States?
Ricardus
+--------------------------------------------------------------+



Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
On Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 4:03 AM, Richard Powderhill

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We do have call blocking, *60.  My experience with it was never very
good.  It often didn't work and when it did the caller got an
announcement saying their number was blocked.  So they would just call
from a cell phone, modem line (this was the 1990s), their work number,
etc. usually angry we had blocked their number.  At the time I was
having problems with a couple of people.

Nowadays I always give out my Google Voice number because I can block
callers and they receive a message saying the number isn't in service.
 But as I've mentioned here before a newspaper I did business with 2+
years ago continues to call me everyday trying to get me to
resubscribe.  I see it in my logs, but the call never makes it
through.

John

--
Austin, Texas, USA


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
Per John Mayson:
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My experience so far has been:

- What seems tb the same caller (Robocaller, actually)
  uses different callerIDs for different calls

- Once they've called my cell phone, I have already
  incurred the expense of the air time - and more, if they
  left voicemail and I retrieved it.

--
PeteCresswell


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
wrote:

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After getting several unsolicited spam text messages, I turned off the
texting capability to my cell phone.  This is a slight inconvenience,
mainly since no response is issued to people who text me.  (That is,
someone who attempts to text me will _not_ get a message "texts
blocked" and will think his text has gone through.)

I am annoyed that the carriers aren't more aggressive in chasing down
spammers and blocking their networks from them.  further, the large
carriers should see that the national networks have better control as
to who may have direct access to it.  Given the volume of illegal
calls, obviously access is too liberal or more controls are needed.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
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_Some_ telcos offer a service like that, for a limited (and *small*) number
of numbers, as an extra-cost (as in 'pay every month for the privilege of
being able to do it') service.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
bonomi@host122.r-bonomi.com (Robert Bonomi) wrote:
<snip>
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I can block up to 30 numbers without a charge.  After about a year I
end up deleting them all and starting over again.  Good old Heather
ends up using most of them.
--
Jim Rusling
More or Less Retired
Mustang, OK
http://www.rusling.org

Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 13:06:15 -0500, bonomi@host122.r-bonomi.com

(Robert Bonomi) wrote:

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This is a self-serving arms race for telcos: even if your basic access
rate is regulated, optional features probably aren't, so they charge a
significant fraction - almost half, in Bell Canada's case - of the
basic monthly rate to allow people to see the number of people who are
calling.  Now allow callers to block caller ID and, when subscribers
complain about wasting money on caller ID, offer (for another
additional fee, of course) a service that diverts calls with blocked
caller ID.* Oh, and offer to bundle the two services at a discount to
show how generous you are, but add in a third unrelated service that
the customer may or may not want so it still costs about as much as
those two features they wnat just to get some control over who they
talk to.  <sigh> Pardon the rant, but it gets very frustrating when a
company's business model seems to be based on causing their customers
grief... and I'm not even talking about customer service or billing
disputes yet!

* Years ago I knew someone who subscribed to "Call Privacy", a service
that diverrted calls with blocked ID, asked the caller to record a
message, put the call on hold, rang the destination number and played
the message giving the answerer the choice of talking to the caller.
(I'm willing to bet that plenty of nasty and abusive messages were
left in lieu of harassing people live, but would be another story.)
When Bell [Canada] Mobility decided that all their cellphone
subsribers' calls would have automatic blocked caller ID, without
asking or even notifying the subscriber, I found my calls to some
people blocked until I culd convince someone at Bell Mobility that
this feature - offered by their own sister company - made
automatically blocked caller ID undesirable and could they just
unsubscribe me from the service.  ("Yes, I know it's free but I just
explained to you why, even for free, I don't want it!")  I don't
recall whether the additional airtime was an issue as I recorded the
message and waited to find out whether someone was even home, let
alone interested in talking to me; it certainly would have been
cheaper just to hang up if no one answered after several rings.

If it weren't such a hassle, it would be kind of funny to note that
the apparent increase in faked caller ID is bringing telephony slowly
closer to the e-mail world, where the existing protocols don't include
(or don't enforce) robust sender identification or filtering, and how
a new protocol that solves the problem isn't likely to be adopted due
to the installed base of contacts using the 'old' system... oh, and
the infrastructure providers aren't interested in incurring the cost
of solving 'your' problem, anyway.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
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I would love it if this were true.  Especially if you could collect enough
to make it pay to sue them.

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But at least in California, the service has limitations that make it useless:
(1) The number to be blocked must be within your local service area (LATA);
    they won't allow blocking of other numbers even if caller-ID shows them.
(2) Blocked callers can still get you by calling the Operator.  This should
    never have been allowed.

If those were the only problems with it, I'd simply buy or build a gadget
that captures Caller ID and lets me block as many numbers or ranges of
numbers as I please.  But even that is futile, because spoofing is easy.

Indeed, this security blog reveals that spoofing is openly offered as a
service you can buy over the internet:
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KrebsOnSecurity/~3/aum_M7_LTtc /

So unless we can get the police to prosecute the likes of spooftel.com,
there's no hope.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
Per John David Galt:
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I have not yet heard a reason why challenge-response would not
work.  

Doesn't mean there isn't such a reason, but the way things are
headed, challenge-response seems like the only practical
approach.    The Powers That Be at Earthlink seem to have decided
that in the context of email.  

Granted that it adds a nuisance factor for the innocent, but once
that phone starts ringing 10-12 times a day with some bottom
feeder on the other end, what're we gonna do?

"Hello, you have reached 123-456-7890.  
 Please press 1 for Dave
 Please press 2 for Sam
 Please press 3 for Sue
 Please press 4 for Phil
 Please press 5 for Doris
 Please press 6 for Fred
 Please press 7 for Mannie
 Please press 8 for Moe
 Please press 9 for Jack"

Where I'm Jack, pressing 9 at any time makes my phone ring, and
pressing anything else drops the caller into a phony "Please
leave a message at the tone" or some alternative universe defined
by me or the service provider.

Seems like minimal inconvenience to my friends/customers once
they know to just press "9" as soon as they hear the pickup.

As the 'bot programmers catch on - or maybe even from day one -
it could be expanded to two or three digits and maybe the prompt
changed to "Please enter the extension of the person you want to
speak with".

Come to think of it, that would be the more intuitive approach
for first callers: I just give them my phone number with the
qualification that I am on "Extension 123".

But I kind of like the first one for it's potential to eat up man
hours on the telephone solicitors - especially with the right
alternative universe defined.  

In that case, I think the misanthrope in me might even look
forward to pre-political election periods.... -)
--
PeteCresswell


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
On Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:29:15 -0400, Pete Cresswell wrote:
..........
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And of course we ALL know that best practice IVR prompts go:

"For Dave please press 1."

Not "Try and remember this number until I finally give you the reason to
use it"    ;-)

--
Regards, David.

David Clayton
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Knowledge is a measure of how many answers you have, intelligence is a
measure of how many questions you have.


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
Per David Clayton:
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That one went right over my head.

How about a dumbed-down explanation for the humor-impaired?

--
PeteCresswell


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
:Per David Clayton:
:>And of course we ALL know that best practice IVR prompts go:
:>
:>"For Dave please press 1."
:>
:>Not "Try and remember this number until I finally give you the reason to
:>use it"    ;-)

:That one went right over my head.

:How about a dumbed-down explanation for the humor-impaired?

He means good prompts are "for Foo, press 1." Not "Press 1 for foo".
I know I want foo, or am at least likely to decide that's what I want
when I hear it as an option, so all I have to do is listen for press 1.
If you tell my which button to push, I have to remember that and listen
to the explanation at the same time.

That's annoying.  It's worse if there's more instruction than that.  A
company I deal with from time to time has an instruction "Hang up, and
dial 800-xxx-xxxx if this is an emergency".  (It's worse, because one
of their prompts dials that number for you.)  


--
sig 47


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
Per David Scheidt:
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Thanks.

Now that it's been said, I can see that it really would be
annoying.

OTOH, for telephone solicitors.......   -)


"H E L L O....... Y O U......... H A V E...... R E A C H E D....
THE...............SLOW.............. TALKERS.........OF.....
AMERICA........   PLEASE......... PRESS...... 1..... FOR........
--
PeteCresswell


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]



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If [they] announce "Press 1 for Dave." you have to remember the "1" before
you know [who] it's for.  If you [hear] "For Dave, press 1" you know that
what follows is the number you want or don't want.  The first way, you
may not remember where you are in a fairly long list, most of which
you have no interest in.


Wes Leatherock
wleathus@yahoo.com
wesrock@aol.com


Re: Tracing Calls w/Spoofed Numbers? [telecom]
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Making 'marketing' calls to a cell phone, or to a residential number on the
Federal "Do Not Call" list, *is* prohibited by Federal statute.  47 USC 227.
(Aside, the FCC and/or FTC _will_ take action, if they get enough 'legally
admissible' -- i.e. where the caller can be reliably identified -- complaints
to warrant it.)

For a private lawsuit, 'statutory' damages are a minimum of $500 _per_call_.
If you can convince  the Judge that it was a 'willful' violation -- 'spoofed'
caller-ID makes that a slam-dunk :) -- the statute provides for trebling the
damages award.  So you have a potential $1,500 award _per_call_ made.
[Note: in virtually all jurisdictions, neither side is allowed to use a
 lawyer during the trial.]

A 'small-claims' filing is "petty cash".  *IF* they are _legally_ doing
business in the state, they are required to have an 'in state' agent for
legal purposes. This is on file with the Secretary of State in each state.
(Note: if they're -not- on file there, the SoS office is likely to be
'interested' because such 'failure to register' =is= a violation of State
law.)  You probably =would= have to file in the county _where_ said agent
is located.

The 'real fun' for a small-claims action could be in "discovery" -- asking
them to produce records of 'all similar calls' made for some 'reasonable'
(say, 'last three years') time period, and evidence of what tests they made
to prevent calling proscribed numbers.   A _pattern_ of  proscribed calls
would be near-compelling evidence for a treble-damages award.  Not to mention
fodder for a 'real court' "class action" suit

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There are commercially available devices that let you do exactly that, and
more.  e.g. dump 'known bad' callers, pass 'known good' callers through,
and handle 'unknown' callers with any of several sorts of 'challenges',
before ringing the 'protected' phone(s).

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IF somebody uses a service like that for _criminal_ use -- e.g. harassment,
threats, stalking, etc. -- then, in addition to prosecuting the actual
caller, the service _could_ be prosecuted for 'aiding and abetting' the
crime, or, possibly, "accessory before the fact".

That said, not _all_ uses of such a service are criminal.  This makes it
-very- difficult to legislate such services out of business.


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