I'm onboard with the recent initiative to eliminate unwanted calls (and exterminate the callers with drones). There was a time when we could use (pay for) Anonymous Call Reject, but the robo-callers now send CLID (faked?), so that's no longer effective. Even our local schools (including my wife's employer) call us with recorded messages about PTA meetings and such, and I don't know how to stop them. I'm about ready to unplug the landline.
Mike Quinn Springfield VA email@example.com
Seems to me like Challenge-Response is the simplest and hardest to defeat approach.
"Press 1 for Joe, Press 2 for Sue, Press 3 for Fred....."
I'm getting close to implementing this myself. I already have all our non-800/non-911 calls going out via a VOIP provider. It's just a matter of porting my phone number to the provider to get incoming over the phone number. My only reservation is that I'd lose what I perceive to be a more reliable 911 connectivity.
Also, there seem to be boxes available that can be hung on to an existing POTS system. I looked at a few, but did not find one that met my own specs. But that was over a year ago.
Nowadays we can't eliminate all 'robocalls' as such, as robo-calling is used by governments and other important organizations* (like your employer) to announce critical information. This would include impending flood warnings, office and road closures, and recovery of suspended systems (such as power outage recover status reports). For instance, I think most of us would want to receive a robo-call from our employer announcing a day off on account of they workplace being closed for some reason. Or, parents needing to know that school closed early and they have to pick up their kids.
IMHO, the problem with unwanted phone calls is mostly that of policy, not technology. The real technology problem is the masking of the caller-ID number by the caller, which I believe is already illegal, but not enforced.
In a previous discussion on this newsgroup, it was said, quite emphatically, that the cost of modifying the existing infrastructure to prevent illegal caller-id masking (and certain other abuses) would be too high and the phone carriers would never do it voluntarily. (IMHO, caller-ID should simply be ANI, without an option by the caller to modify it, but everyone said that wouldn't work.)
Anyway, regarding policy, the problem is that (1) there are too many allowances for unwanted calls to legally come through, and (2) the authorities are unwilling or unable to _effectively_ prosecute those who send illegal calls.
IMHO, survey and political calls should be blocked by the DO NOT CALL list. I think we can assume politicians won't let that happen as they love robo-calling us during the election season, and also conducting opinion polls.
As to prosecuting illegal callers, some years ago the government drastically cut back on its white collar enforcement agencies (eg the SEC, FTC, etc). Part of this was part of the business de-regulatory movement, and part was a shift of resources to anti-terrorism. IMHO, those resources ought to be shifted back, but there seems to be very little public feeling for that to happen; lots of people are making too much money off the present system.
A condo association used robocalls to notify residents of things like pool parties, but resident complaints forced an end to that. Now, the community only uses robo-calls for emergency announcements. It seems that a school should do likewise--not use robocalls for PTA meetings or bake sales, but restrict them to genuine school emergencies. In this way, when such a call comes in, people will know it is important and pay attention.
I stop most robo calls (but not all) with software (PhoneTray Pro) on a Windows computer with a modem that recognizes CID. Over the last 20 months that I've been using the program, I have the following stats:
Total calls received: 2348 (Family of two - Retired)
Total calls blocked: 528
Total Callers place on the Blocked List: 158
Number of high frequency callers making more than 15 calls: 5
Most of the high frequency callers are charities wanting to pickup clothing that we don't need any more.
When the call is blocked, I have the option to select one of a number of WAV files which is played to the caller. Normally I use the WAV that imitates the tone you hear when you dial a disconnected number.