It is the scourge of the dinner hour. The cold call from a telemarketer just as the family is sitting down to eat. But secret filming by the BBC's Panorama programme found that some firms are not just bending the rules meant to protect people, they are tearing up the rule book entirely.
Tony Clark's home phone number is ex-directory. The 64-year-old has also signed up to a scheme designed to block most cold calls from telemarketing firms - known as the Telephone Preference Service.
The problem is that the calls just keep coming - and coming.
And, IMHO, will continue to do so even if laws are passed (as in the USA).
This is from the USA perspective of one who is on both the nationwide and state Do-Not-Call lists.
Years ago, when the laws were new, reporting somebody actually had an effect and unsolicited calls were rare.
I even got a few of bucks once when the state took a telemarketer to court, won, and split the settlement among people who complained.
- Legislators get paid off to grant exceptions. Oops... not "paid off".... To be politically correct: "Lobbied"....
- Telemarketers move offshore and hide behind multiple VOIP relays
- Various prosecutors give up trying to climb the technology curve.
- (I suspect) The free-market wing nuts manage to restrict funding for prosecutions.
Bottom line, whatever the causes, our listed phone gets at least three unsolicited calls per day 7 days a week and I've had to resort to maxing out the greeting length on my cell phone just to dodge most of the robo calls.
Some of the robo calls are bordering on abusive. One got to my answering machine a couple of days ago to the effect of "You may have big problems with your XYZ credit card account and you'd better call us quick before Bad Things happen...."
Needless-to-say, nobody's looking forward to the election season.... I'm half-waiting for some wag to erect a sign on their front lawn listing the total robo calls from each party as a possible litmus test for which one to not vote for.
I'm pretty sure there is a technological fix that involves challenge/response... but I don't think the service providers have caught on to the potential demand yet.
I was wondering what a "SIT Tone" was until I read this:
Sounds like a no-brainer to download a .WAV file and just add it to the start of the answering machine's message - with a long enough persistence to trigger the robo caller's response, but short enough so the actual message comes on before the innocent caller's "WTF?" response kicks in.
Don't SIT tone generators not work for any phone system using out-of-band signalling of stuff like that? (that is, just about anything other than POTS) ? Certainly telemarketers run from a call center with a DS-n feed.
***** Moderator's Note *****
Special Information Tones are in band because they are /intended/ to signal to originating-end-point automatic calling equipment that the call has failed.
page includes audio files for all eight SIT combinations.
Back in the dark days before the DNC list, I used to get more than a dozen telemarketing calls in a day. One of the things I tried was the SIT trick. You don't need any fancy generator, you just need to put a recording of the tone onto your voicemail or answering machine, right at the front of the message. Info here:
In my experience, you only needed the first tone, and it could be very short. The yourhomenow guy says that some dialers are now listening for the second tone too. If it works, you'll know - the machine on the other end will hang up almost immediately.
Personally though, I think this is all obsolete. The companies that are likely to give a crap are already using the do-not-call list. I still get a few calls, but they are ALWAYS scams; "Heather from card services" and other such con games. Put it this way - if you are getting unsolicited calls, they are either going to be surveys, political calls, or scams (note, may be overlap in all categories, grin). None of those people care about the DNC list, and a boiler-room operation probably doesn't have SIT detectors on their dialers (if they're using dialers at all, they could just as easily have people doing the calling).
Really the only thing you can do is collect as much information as you can and forward it to the FTC. If you try putting SIT on your machine, by all means tell us if it seems to result in faster hangups and less calls after that, but I think it's fairly doubtful to make much difference. *
P.S. Also note: The people that are likely to call you nowadays aren't like the old telemarketers who you could browbeat into submission fairly easily. The kind you get now, if they go to a person, tend to be sociopathic nutters. A few months ago I got fed up with one of the guys who was calling and leaving messages on my machine about fundraising for a (nonexistent) charity, and told him to stop calling. Instead of doing that, he called back immediately and cursed into the machine for a fairly-creative 30 seconds straight. My machine recorded it all so I had a nice piece of evidence to give the cops when he threatened to come over and break my arm, but I really don't think it's worth it to taunt the weirdos anymore. I either let it go to voicemail or hang up without comment.
At least not always, that is. All it takes is one analog trunk circuit
-anywhere- in the call path, and the caller's digital trunk signalling dother than oesn't tell them diddly-squat.
Specifically consider a PBX with _analog_ DID trunk lines. The _only_ way that PBX has to signal the caller, for 'non working number', or the other 'failure' conditions ('all circuits busy' excluded), is via SIT.
I've talked to an investigator from the FTC about Rachel From Card Services. They are painfully aware of what's going on but it's a challenge to stop because it's not one entity, it's many who have bought autodialer equipment and a copy of the Rachel recording. It's VoIP so it's pretty much impossible to figure out who's making the call unless they call someone who talks to them long enough to get them to mail something.
***** Moderator's Note *****
That chain of events started with the FTC calling yours truly, and I suggested that the actual robodialer equipment is probably located at one or more down-at-the-heels CLECs in the U.S. Although the humans who come on line when victims push "1" might be in other nations, it just doesn't make sense to have the robodialers there, since the costs of such infrastructure are much lower in the U.S.
And, then, I told them to call John, who is the real expert. ;-)
Bill P.S. What /is/ Rachel's game, anyway? Just gathering credit card numbers?
No clue here. I actually tried pressing "1" once in hopes of getting enough info to file a useful complaint; but I didn't even get to first base information-wise; the guy caught on almost immediately and hung up.
Somewhere (I wish I had saved the URL) I read a post by somebody who said they were an investigator for one of the DNC enforcement agencies. She mentioned special credit cards that her agency used for bait and some other techniques that gave me sort of a warm fuzzy feeling - to the effect that people who actually know something are making meaningful efforts.
The implication seemed tb that they press "1" and then follow the chain - supplying the bait info - and then watch for activity and prosecute based on that.
That led me to suspect that Rachel, Lisa, Heather and Co. are just harvesting information for sale to others - because if they were using it themselves, they'd have been nailed by now. Either that or this stuff is coming from waaaay offshore - i.e. places where there is no legal reciprocity/extradition.
On Wed, 4 Jul 2012 17:14:55 -0400, Moderator wrote, anent SIT tones:
May I ask, in view of the SIT tones being offered on the page
being repeated (with 2nd playthrough beginning about 2 seconds after the first begins), does one want to play back as part of one's OGM the whole, repeated, 4-second-long SIT tone recording as offered on that page? Or just a single "once-through" of a SIT tone sequence (3 tones only, in < 2 sec.)?
Back when I did this (some years ago), I used audacity to create a super-fast recording of the tones - each of the 3 tones played for .2 seconds. Later on, I removed tones 2 and 3, and there was just a quick beep at the beginning of my message that was hardly noticable.
People still doing this say that some PD systems are listening for the first 2 tones now, but you can still go faster than the "official" tones and have it work. I can't speak to that - I haven't done this since the DNC list went live. I may have to try it again to see if "Heather from card services" goes away. *