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  1. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    09-22-2018, 02:31 PM #1

    Really rotten robocallers

    Recently, really rotten robocallers have been running rampant. Even though our telephone number is on the "Do not call" list, we get at least six calls every day from scammers and robocallers who seem to have the misguided notion that we're on a "Do call" list. Most of the callers never leave a message. Of the messages that are left, some are from legitimate businesses such as insurance companies and solar panel installers but most are scams: "You owe the IRS money"; "We offer cheap viagra from India"; "You have a refund coming from Apple." (We own no Apple products.)

    Our phone has caller ID but often does not ID the callers. It will show UNKNOWN NAME and not show the phone number. Sometimes the number shown is only a 1 -- and sometimes even our own number.

    When we get scam calls, we report them to,, and other websites that maintain databases of unsafe callers and telemarketers. Many of these scammers call once or twice a day, for many weeks. They're persistent, I'll give them that.

    Some phone providers now offer Scam ID and/or Scam Lock. If a call comes from a known scammer, the caller ID will replace the number with SCAM ALERT.

    Sirius Buzz is a forum. That means other people besides myself participate in the discussions. If you've been bombarded with scam calls and robocalls -- and who hasn't? -- share your stories here. Don't make me beg.

    Sick of robocalls? They're about to get even worse.
    Jim Axelrod, CBS News, Sep 20 2018 6:39 PM

    If it feels like you are getting more robocalls these days, it's because you are. Last year, some 30 billion spam calls were made in the US. This year, that number is expected to climb by more than 10 billion.

    Alex Quilici runs the robocall blocking company and says the most alarming part is the number of spam calls that are actually scams. Of the 4 billion robocalls made in August, nearly 1.8 billion of them were fraudulent. Next year, analysis by First Orion predicts half of all mobile calls will be scams.

    Quilici's company makes an app that tells robocallers your number is out of order, tricking them into leaving you alone. But he said technology also enables robocallers to be ever more efficient. "It's so easy to go make an enormous number of robocalls to people," he said. "If I'm a scammer, I can go annoy Seattle for 500 bucks."

    If you send out enough lines, someone will bite. "You get a call where it says, 'It's the IRS, you gotta pay us today or we're going to go to your work tomorrow or arrest you in front of your kids,'" Quilici said. "If you think you might owe money, it's a really compelling scam."

    The number one way to deal with robocalls is never answer the phone with a number you don't recognize. But that's getting tougher to do, since scammers now use programs that make calls with familiar numbers or even with your own number.

  2. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    09-22-2018, 02:41 PM #2
    The Federal Communications Commission receives more complaints about scam calls and robocalls than any other subject. This report details what the FCC is doing to stop them -- although it seems to be a losing battle -- and steps we can take to stop the calls -- although it seems to be a losing battle:

    Stop unwanted robocalls and texts

  3. Penguin is offline
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    Joined: Nov 2017 Location: San Fernando Posts: 257
    09-22-2018, 04:52 PM #3
    I get a lot of calls that play a recorded message and the message usually starts in the middle. I figure that is because people hang up before the message finishes playing and then it does not start over from the beginning.

  4. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    10-05-2018, 09:55 PM #4
    The good news: There is technology which will put a stop to robocallers who use spoofed phone numbers to disguise their identity. The bad news: The technology could cost each telephone company millions of dollars and there are around 4,000 phone companies in the US. In other words, we'll continue to get several calls a day from robocallers who use spoofed phone numbers to disguise their identity.

    FCC slaps a huge fine on telemarketer caught 'spoofing' but the industry still needs to step up
    David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, Oct 5 2018 3:00 AM

    Federal authorities say it's an open-and-shut case. They say they caught an Arizona company "spoofing" phone numbers to make millions of telemarketing calls that falsely appeared on caller ID screens to be from local residents. The Federal Communications Commission is so sure of its joint investigation with the Federal Trade Commission that it announced a proposed $37.5-million fine in the case. "This is the commission’s first major enforcement action against a company that apparently commandeered consumers' phone numbers," the FCC declared.

    I don’t doubt that authorities have uncovered something. But when I tracked down the various players in the drama, I came away with more questions than answers. The company in question, Tucson-based Affordable Enterprises, "made more than 2.3 million maliciously spoofed telemarketing calls to Arizonans during a 14-month span starting in 2016 to sell home improvement and remodeling services," according to the FCC.

    The FCC said the company "apparently manipulated the caller ID information so that many calls appeared to come from consumers who were unconnected to the operation. Calls also appeared to come from unassigned phone numbers and numbers assigned to pre-paid 'burner' phones. In each case, the caller ID was spoofed and consumers were unable to identify from the caller ID that the call was from Affordable Enterprises."

    A particularly insidious aspect of spoofing is that call recipients often dial the number on their screen to complain. That means they're calling some unsuspecting nearby resident — the one who had his number spoofed — rather than the actual telemarketer. One woman told the FCC she received about a half-dozen calls a day from cheesed-off people who thought she was responsible for violating the do-not-call list. It was actually Affordable Enterprises making the telemarketing calls, the FCC said.

    Yet when I reached Affordable Enterprises' co-owner, Jessika Cabrera, she professed total surprise at being the target of an FCC investigation and a massive fine. She said she hadn't even been notified by the commission. "I didn't do anything wrong," Cabrera told me. "I don’t see how this is even possible." She pointed a finger at an Arizona company called JB Comm, which her firm hired to provide the automated dialing system for Affordable Enterprises' telemarketing. "They’re the ones you should be looking at," Cabrera said.

    I reached Bruce Manning, co-owner of JB Comm, who immediately pointed a finger back at Cabrera. "She’s telling you a fib," he insisted. "All we did was provide the system for outbound dialing. All the numbers called were from her. This is on them, not me." I took that back to Cabrera. "Not true," she said. "I purchased the phone numbers from him." Back to Manning. "She did not buy them from me, I guarantee it," he said. "She bought them from a broker." Nothing like a multimillion-dollar fine to send telemarketers scurrying for cover.

    Amid all this finger pointing, the FCC dug in its heels. Will Wiquist, a spokesman for the commission, said the proposed $37.5-million fine "follows a strong investigation by Enforcement Bureau staff." He said the investigation was based in part on a whistleblower tip from a former Affordable Enterprises employee, as well as company phone records, "which were then cross-referenced against the complaints submitted by consumers to the FCC and FTC."

    I can’t say how all this will play out. But I can certainly speak to the huge problem of spoofing — and the need for the telecom industry to play a more active role in safeguarding customers. "There are definitely things they could be doing," said Marc Bartholomew, chief executive of the Sherman Oaks cybersecurity firm Integritechs. "However, they generally don’t seem interested in doing them." A big reason for that: money. "It's a matter of making small changes on a massive scale," Bartholomew told me. "That’s expensive."

    I asked the FCC what could be done. Wiquist steered me toward an initiative called SHAKEN/STIR. Yes, it’s a geeky James Bond reference. It’s also a clunky acronym for an automated system that would make sure all calls are from the numbers that appear on caller ID screens. The way it works is a digital "token" is issued at the outset of a call and that token is verified when the call reaches its intended recipient. If the tokens match, the call receives a thumbs-up and the recipient knows the call is legit. A spoofed call wouldn’t pass muster and would receive a thumbs-down from SHAKEN/STIR and the recipient would know not to bother answering. The technology apparently is ready for prime time. However, as Bartholomew noted, it's pricey.

    I reached out to major phone companies to gauge their interest in taking action against spoofed calls. An AT&T spokesman said the company is working to implement a new industry standard which will help eliminate the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from telephone systems." He was talking about SHAKEN/STIR, but "working to implement" isn’t exactly a call to arms. At least AT&T is acknowledging the issue, though.

    Most of the responses I received were along the lines of what a Frontier Communications spokesman told me when he said "strong enforcement against illegal robocallers is critical, and Frontier is actively engaged with industry efforts and the FCC to combat this growing problem." Go, team!

    If the telecom industry can’t handle this on its own, lawmakers should require timely implementation of SHAKEN/STIR. Otherwise, robocallers and spoofers will continue making our phone lives miserable. Except for the occasional time someone gets busted. Whoever that may be.

  5. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    10-09-2018, 01:59 PM #5
    This Business Insider headline is wrong. Google Assistant will use the new "Call Screen" feature to answer phone calls and transcribe the messages. It does not "end" telemarketer calls. It merely enables users to read what the message was. We will continue to get inundated by rafts of really rotten robocallers.

    Google's new phone software aims to end telemarketer calls for good

  6. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    11-15-2018, 11:42 PM #6
    I thought about recording this story and robocalling every Sirius Buzz member with the news but ultimately I decided to just post the story here. This is an excerpt; the complete article is linked below.

    Enraged by endless robocalls? Help is on the way.
    A new verification system is aimed at bringing consumers relief.
    USA TODAY, Nov 15 2018

    Your phone rings. You don’t recognize the number on the screen, but the call appears to be coming from your area code – perhaps even your exchange. Maybe the display shows it's coming from your town. So you answer – and the unwanted recorded message begins. A voice wants to sell you an extended warranty for your car, a timeshare in a vacation spot or a loan to refinance your home. It might even be a Chinese-language message about a purported package awaiting pickup at the local consulate.

    Consumers, rejoice: An attack plan is nearing deployment against the billions of illegal robocalls that have made telephones and smartphones virtual weapons of mass frustration. Emerging from a years-long effort by government, telecommunications and computer experts, the plan will use a verification system to stop robocall companies from masking the true numbers of those billions of unwanted and illegal calls. The tactic, known as spoofing, fools consumers by causing their Caller ID systems to indicate falsely that the robocalls come from the phone numbers of familiar businesses, organizations, friends or acquaintances.

    US consumers and businesses were barraged with roughly 30.5 billion robocalls in 2017, according to YouMail, a company that provides a service to block such messages. That broke the record of 29.3 billion calls set just a year earlier. The company estimates the 2018 total will jump to roughly 48 billion.

    Many robocalls aren't just annoying – they're illegal. Robocallers are not permitted to send telemarketing messages that haven't been approved by the recipients or to dial numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Some robocalls are permissible. Government regulators have carved out exemptions for charities, for example, and also for political campaigns.

    Major US telephone service providers are expected to start integrating the verification system with their networks in upcoming months, with a more complete ramp-up to follow in 2019. There's no agreement yet on what consumers will see in their Caller ID systems — a green check mark, perhaps, or another symbol to indicate the caller has the authorization to use the number that's displayed.

    The verification system is designed to correct an unforeseen problem that developed roughly two decades ago. During the late 1990s, the telecommunications industry launched a technology capable of transmitting telephone voice calls via a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular phone line. One of the support services to grow out of the technology was Voice Over Internet Protocol. Robocalls use VoIP because it's inexpensive. It also enables users to enter anything imaginable as the source of the call. That identification, true or false, automatically is conveyed to consumers.

    The developers have dubbed the system STIR and SHAKEN, a geeky engineering homage to fictional British spy James Bond's martini preference. STIR, or Secure Telephone Identity Revisited, is a call-certifying protocol. SHAKEN, or Signature based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs, verifies the callers' right to use their phone numbers.

    When you make a call, your phone carrier will use your identifying number to create a digital signature, or token, that will accompany the call as it is being completed. At the other end, the system verifies that nothing was tampered with, and ensures that the call came from someone who has a legitimate right to use that number.

    However, the system will not block any phone calls – including robocalls. Consumers eventually are expected to see an as yet undetermined signal that will indicate calls that have been verified, a feature intended to help guide decisions about whether or not to pick up.

    The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions today issued a request for proposals to get an administrator to apply and enforce the STIR and SHAKEN rules. A panel of telecom company representatives will continue to update the verification system as robocall companies seek ways to beat it.

  7. hwkn is offline
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    Joined: Apr 2014 Location: Evanston,Il Posts: 40
    11-16-2018, 05:05 PM #7
    Whenever I get calls like that I just pick up the phone then hang up right away.

  8. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    12-19-2018, 06:41 PM #8
    Spam calls accounted for 3.7% of all telephone calls made in 2017. This year, more than 29% of calls are spam. Next year, 45% of calls will be spam. "You owe us money." "Your daughter is in jail." "You've won a cruise." "You've won a lottery." We offer cheap viagra." "We offer cheap insurance." In this Los Angeles Times editorial, Melissa Batchelor Warnke speaks for all of us. Well.....all of us except for the spammers and robocallers.

    All I want for Christmas is the Godforsaken spammers to stop calling

  9. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    01-01-2019, 08:51 PM #9
    Today's Wall Street Journal reports on those really rotten robocallers. Lately I've been picking up the phone when I get robocalls but I keep the phone's mouthpiece covered so the caller will hear only silence. On one occasion a man said "Hello? Hello?" and hung up. All the other calls are apparently from automated systems which disconnect after ten seconds. I'm hoping they'll eventually stop. Why keep calling if you get no response, right?

    'Stop robocalling me!'; 'I didn't!
    Robocall recipients lash out, unaware that numbers on the other end may have been 'spoofed' by scammers.

  10. Rewind is offline
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    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,126
    03-11-2019, 01:44 PM #10
    Last year, Americans received 47.8 billion robocalls, an increase of 57% over the previous year. We're bombarded with ads for viagra, insurance, refinancing, charities and other businesses. John Oliver came up with a good way to get the attention of the FCC. Yeah, the FCC is well aware of the robocallers -- but it's not doing anything to stop them.

    John Oliver robocalls FCC commissioners to urge crackdown on robocalls

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