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Old 10th December 2021, 10:49 AM   #1
sir drinks-a-lot
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Stopping robocalls

I’m visiting my parents who are still on a landline, and they are receiving lots of robocalls every day.
If you or your loved ones are using Johnson and Johnson baby powder…

That’s the most common call, but there are some others. It happens many times a day, causing my aging parents to have to answer many fake calls.

Has anyone had any success in stopping these?

I can think of three possible approaches, but am not too confident and wanted to get feedback. I’m also worried to make any major changes right before I leave my parent’s home for the next several months.

1) see if the calls are coming from the same number(s) and try to block them.
2) try and utilize some sort of do not call list or service
3) some of the calls say “press 2” to stop receiving further calls. I’m skeptical and think this may even make the problem worse.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Old 10th December 2021, 03:21 PM   #2
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My in-laws have a caller ID that announces the name so they don’t have to read it. Makes it easy to tell whose calling without rushing over to the phone. The voice is annoying but it is fairly accurate. I’m sure there are better ones than theirs since it is a few years old.

They still answer every call no matter what is happening as if not answering the call will allow the bank to reposes their home.

So, no. No I don’t have any good ideas.
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Old 10th December 2021, 04:32 PM   #3
bruto
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I get nearly daily robocalls claiming to want to extend my car warranty. It doesn't seem to matter if I don't answer, answer and block, or answer and unsubscribe (usually a mistake as it identifies you as a live number). The numbers are different every time. I wrote to the state Attorney General suggesting that they really ought to be able to do something, but doubt if they will. The caller ID on my landline misses half the numbers, or just identifies "wireless caller." The caller ID on my cell phone, which is what gets most of the warranty scam calls, is much better, and even identifes "potential spam," but it doesn't help to stop them, only to skip them.

I don't know of any answer other than just not answering, and letting the people you like know they should leave a message on voicemail and I'll call back. The robocalls never leave voicemail.
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Last edited by bruto; 10th December 2021 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 10th December 2021, 07:58 PM   #4
alfaniner
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
I’m visiting my parents who are still on a landline, and they are receiving lots of robocalls every day.
If you or your loved ones are using Johnson and Johnson baby powder…

That’s the most common call, but there are some others. It happens many times a day, causing my aging parents to have to answer many fake calls.

Has anyone had any success in stopping these?

I can think of three possible approaches, but am not too confident and wanted to get feedback. I’m also worried to make any major changes right before I leave my parent’s home for the next several months.

1) see if the calls are coming from the same number(s) and try to block them.
2) try and utilize some sort of do not call list or service
3) some of the calls say “press 2” to stop receiving further calls. I’m skeptical and think this may even make the problem worse.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
#1 - No, they cycle their numbers so often that's impossible. Plus, many of those numbers are spoofed (faked, to look like it's coming from your area code).
#2 - donotcall.gov is the only one I use. I rarely get any robocalls. And I report the ones that I do get.
#3 - NO, and you are correct. Making any response simply validates the number, which can then be sold to other agencies.

The two most important things are Caller ID and voice mail. Caller ID for receiving those calls you know you want (from relatives and such), and voice mail for everything else. I know it's hard for older people (like me) not to answer the phone when it rings, but it's the only way to reduce them. I DO get robocalls on voicemail, btw. Easily deleted.

The Do Not Call service takes some time to kick in, and it won't catch everything, but it works pretty well.
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Old 10th December 2021, 08:43 PM   #5
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Don't these callers buy lists of prospective clients?

I used to get inundated with telemarketing calls and in every instance, I would instantly hang up without a word if I heard a robot or it was apparent that a telemarketer was calling.

Gradually, the calls dwindled down to zero.
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Old 10th December 2021, 09:56 PM   #6
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I think many do buy lists, but I think also that technology has made it possible to skip that and just call all possible numbers.

I imagine list purchase is still a big deal, but am guessing that in the age of computers it may be less so.

Many years ago, in a paper recycling trailer where I often found good books, I came across a publication that was dedicated to mailing lists. Basically a thick catalogue of mailing lists for sale, with different grades - big bulk ones, others selected as subscribers to something, or positive leads, etc. You could buy in different forms, including computer tapes and pre-stamped addressograph plates.

One of the worst offenders back in the day was The New York Review of Books. I had a subscription to that in the late 60's, and soon started getting loads of junk mail, mostly for charities, which was obviously printed on copies of their addressograph plates, minus the subscription line at the top. How a publication like that stays in business, I guess.

I suspect that some of the phone scammers are just running some kind of software that goes through the numbers. I doubt it costs them anything but time, since anything that isn't free already they're probably stealing.
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Old 11th December 2021, 03:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
#1 - No, they cycle their numbers so often that's impossible. Plus, many of those numbers are spoofed (faked, to look like it's coming from your area code).
#2 - donotcall.gov is the only one I use. I rarely get any robocalls. And I report the ones that I do get.
#3 - NO, and you are correct. Making any response simply validates the number, which can then be sold to other agencies.

The two most important things are Caller ID and voice mail. Caller ID for receiving those calls you know you want (from relatives and such), and voice mail for everything else. I know it's hard for older people (like me) not to answer the phone when it rings, but it's the only way to reduce them. I DO get robocalls on voicemail, btw. Easily deleted.

The Do Not Call service takes some time to kick in, and it won't catch everything, but it works pretty well.
You'd imagine that the telecomms companies would have some way of recognising spoofed numbers and blocking them. Is there a legitimate use for such spoofing?
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Old 11th December 2021, 07:42 AM   #8
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Sure, if a company has multiple phone lines for outgoing calls. Xxxx-1234 might be their main phone number on ads. You might not answer calls from xxxx-6583.

I recently received a spam call with a misformatted spoofed number. Instead of a local number, the call came from overseas. Think +x-xx-xxx-xx-x instead of xx-xx-xx-xx.
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Old 11th December 2021, 08:43 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
You'd imagine that the telecomms companies would have some way of recognising spoofed numbers and blocking them. Is there a legitimate use for such spoofing?
I can't imagine there would be any legitimate use. I guess I don't quite know how the spoofing is done, but in the case of cell phones, the transferability of numbers, including area codes, may mean that the spoofing cannot be detected. If I move to Arizona, I could still keep my current phone number with its Vermont area code. One of my kids has lived in Vermont for many years but still has a Massachusetts number from his college years.

I can't see how that could be distinguished from a spoofed call except by consulting a database that would have to be shared with all the cellular providers in the state, and consulted every time a call comes through.

As it is, they do some kind of check, and when these calls come in, they are identified as "probable spam." But I think the criteria used are not absolute enough for them to risk blocking the numbers altogether, since not only can you move with number intact, but one of the virtues of cell phones is that you can call from anywhere as you travel.
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Old 11th December 2021, 08:56 AM   #10
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The reason spoofed numbers exist is for companies with private exchanges. Employees can have their own number, but when they call out it shows on caller ID as the company name and the main desk phone number. Tailor made for spammers to abuse.

We still have our landline but the outgoing answering machine message starts out "Hi, it's us. We don't answer this phone because nobody calls it but spammers, but if you've got a legitimate reason to contact us, leave a message". Most robocalls detect the answering machine and hang up.
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Old 11th December 2021, 09:25 AM   #11
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Google Voice is an example of a legitimate use of caller ID spoofing. You can set it up so that outgoing Voice calls use a number assigned to your cell phone or landline.

Unfortunately, scammers are tricking people into agreeing to allow the scammer's Voice account to access their phone number. This gives the scammer a real number to call from.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/20...d-how-avoid-it
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Old 11th December 2021, 11:49 AM   #12
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I have a way of handling robocalls, but it's incredibly geeky and requires a lot of work to set up. In case you want to give it a try, here goes:
  1. Purchase either a VoIP handset or VoIP phone adapter (a device that accepts VoIP calls and sends them to a traditional [analogue] handset.) Configure as needed (if you're unfamiliar with how VoIP works, this is probably easier said than done.)
  2. Purchase a Raspberry Pi micro-computer and install FreePBX on it. Configure as needed (if you're unfamiliar with FreePBX, this is way easier said than done!)
  3. In FreePPBX, record a greeting that says "Hello, you have reached xxx-xxx-xxxx. Please press 1 to speak with your name."
  4. In FreePBX, set up an "IVR" (Interactive Voice Response) menu that plays the above greeting, then waits several seconds for the caller to press a digit. If the received digit is 1, tell FreePBX to transfer the call to the VoIP phone or adapter.
  5. Configure your internet provider's router to send traffic inbound on ports 6900-7000 to the Raspberry Pi
  6. In FreePBX, set up an inbound call route that sends incoming calls from your (soon to be set up) VoIP provider to the IVR.
  7. Now sign up with a VoIP provider, port your current landline phone number to it, and terminate your contract with your current carrier.

There ya go! After spending about $100 - $200 and a likely a similar number of hours learning FreePBX with a helping of Asterisk and the SIP protocol, you have a system where anyone who calls your number gets a message asking them to press 1 to speak with you.

With a whole bunch of additional programming, you can set up a whitelist of known good numbers that will bypass the inbound IVR and go directly to the VOiP phone or adapter.

With additional programming, you can set up Lenny to send calls from unknown numbers to him.

You're welcome.

Filtering calls with a cheap answering machine is far, far easier than what I've described here.
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Old 11th December 2021, 12:29 PM   #13
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Over here my BT Call Guardian phone can be configured
Quote:
Your BT8500 has four Guardian modes that allow you to easily manage calls in
different ways:
Announce (All calls not in your Contacts, Allow or VIP list must say their name,
those on your Blocked list hear, “Calls to this number are being screened by BT Call
Guardian, the person you are calling is not accepting your call. Please hang up”)
International (All calls from International numbers must announce their name.
All other calls, except those on your blocked list hear the message above and all
other calls come straight through)
Ans Phone (All calls not in your Contacts, Allowed or VIP list are sent straight to
the Answer Phone including those on your Blocked list)
Custom (You choose how you’d like to handle all of your calls)
In Announce mode (default setting), the BT8500 will filter all first time calls from
numbers that are not yet saved in your Contacts, or already on your allowed list.
By doing this, you gradually build up these lists and your phone will know how to
deal with the call the next time it comes in.
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Old 11th December 2021, 01:11 PM   #14
Lplus
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
The reason spoofed numbers exist is for companies with private exchanges. Employees can have their own number, but when they call out it shows on caller ID as the company name and the main desk phone number. Tailor made for spammers to abuse.

We still have our landline but the outgoing answering machine message starts out "Hi, it's us. We don't answer this phone because nobody calls it but spammers, but if you've got a legitimate reason to contact us, leave a message". Most robocalls detect the answering machine and hang up.
Ours is much the same "Hi, due to the number of cold calls and scammers we don't answer first time round anymore. Please either leave a message or call again, and if we're in we'll answer.
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Old 11th December 2021, 02:18 PM   #15
surrogate
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Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
I have a way of handling robocalls, but it's incredibly geeky and requires a lot of work to set up. In case you want to give it a try, here goes:
  1. Purchase either a VoIP handset or VoIP phone adapter (a device that accepts VoIP calls and sends them to a traditional [analogue] handset.) Configure as needed (if you're unfamiliar with how VoIP works, this is probably easier said than done.)
  2. Purchase a Raspberry Pi micro-computer and install FreePBX on it. Configure as needed (if you're unfamiliar with FreePBX, this is way easier said than done!)
  3. In FreePPBX, record a greeting that says "Hello, you have reached xxx-xxx-xxxx. Please press 1 to speak with your name."
  4. In FreePBX, set up an "IVR" (Interactive Voice Response) menu that plays the above greeting, then waits several seconds for the caller to press a digit. If the received digit is 1, tell FreePBX to transfer the call to the VoIP phone or adapter.
  5. Configure your internet provider's router to send traffic inbound on ports 6900-7000 to the Raspberry Pi
  6. In FreePBX, set up an inbound call route that sends incoming calls from your (soon to be set up) VoIP provider to the IVR.
  7. Now sign up with a VoIP provider, port your current landline phone number to it, and terminate your contract with your current carrier.

There ya go! After spending about $100 - $200 and a likely a similar number of hours learning FreePBX with a helping of Asterisk and the SIP protocol, you have a system where anyone who calls your number gets a message asking them to press 1 to speak with you.

With a whole bunch of additional programming, you can set up a whitelist of known good numbers that will bypass the inbound IVR and go directly to the VOiP phone or adapter.

With additional programming, you can set up Lenny to send calls from unknown numbers to him.

You're welcome.

Filtering calls with a cheap answering machine is far, far easier than what I've described here.

Haven't used it myself, but VOIP.ms apparently has IVR and Caller ID filtering as part of their service.
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Old 12th December 2021, 06:45 PM   #16
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I'd say convince them to drop the landline if they can, but that is on the assumption that landlines are worse than mobiles for these types of calls. From the volume you describe it sounds like they get a lot more than I do on my cell, but I don't know if if there really is a difference.

Yahoo does a great job of sorting out SPAM email for me, much better than the phone. I keep hearing that the technology is there to stop the phone SPAM but they aren't utilizing it.

I don't answer my phone if I don't recognize the number unless I'm expecting a call. That is the best immediate solution in my opinion.


ETA:
I rarely get SPAM text messages, maybe they are easier to filter. My 79 year old Dad is a texter now, so maybe that could help in some way? My Mom has her ringer off which annoys me sometimes, but she'll call back when she sees a missed call or text.
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Old 13th December 2021, 08:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by surrogate View Post
Haven't used it myself, but VOIP.ms apparently has IVR and Caller ID filtering as part of their service.

I've got nomorobo on my VoIP line and it works fine.
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Old 13th December 2021, 12:20 PM   #18
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I did this for a while on my answering machine, it seemed to reduce the calls. I leave a very short voice message, like "please leave a message". After that message I added the sound tones for a 'not in service' message. Supposedly when the robo dialer hears the 'not in service' tone, it will remove your number from their database. This is the tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI_wyiY4vyk
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Old 13th December 2021, 04:50 PM   #19
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Robo calls have caused a lot of anxiety around here. They will often start around 7am, and continue until evening. They have at times called every hour throughout the day. I like having a landline for a few reasons, but wish the robo's would STOP!
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Old 13th December 2021, 05:00 PM   #20
bruto
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
Robo calls have caused a lot of anxiety around here. They will often start around 7am, and continue until evening. They have at times called every hour throughout the day. I like having a landline for a few reasons, but wish the robo's would STOP!
I like Long Fuzzy's suggestion. Just make sure you leave a message first for the real people telling them what to expect. Of course it only works if the robocallers actually wait for voicemail. The ones around here generally don't and just hang up.
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Old 15th December 2021, 02:54 AM   #21
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As a side note : for years I was on call and would get called by our automated system. I was so flat answering the phone that I'd often hear "Voicemail detected." This was a PITA as that meant that it didn't send an "acknowledged" signal so would repeat the call in x minutes and prepare to escalate. So I started answering the calls by snarling "the ******* you want?" which made me feel a little better.
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Old 5th January 2022, 10:11 AM   #22
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I used to use a program called PhoneTray. It used a modem connected to your computer to block spam calls. It accessed a central database and made it easy to review calls and mark them as good or spam. It was very effective and easy to use, but it required you to have a computer running all the time and connected to the phone line through the modem. In my new home, that setup was not practical. And, PhoneTray is no longer sold.

So, recently I learned about RoboCallWall. It is basically the same thing except the computer is replaced by a little dedicated device which I assume is a Raspberry Pi or something similar. It comes with a modem and works much like PhoneTray did. Instead of using a program running on the device, you access a website to review calls and set them to be allowed or blocked. The website is very basic and rather ugly, but it works. I have now been using it for about a month and it has blocked about 40% (!) of the calls to my landline. It did block a non-spam call because the Caller ID was not available for some reason. I manually added that number to the Allowed list so it shouldn't happen again.

I am generally pleased with RoboCallWall so far.
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Old 6th January 2022, 08:35 PM   #23
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I wonder if a similar app could be designed to run on a mobile phone. ?
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Old 6th January 2022, 08:37 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
I wonder if a similar app could be designed to run on a mobile phone. ?
Is post 17 not what you want?
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Old 7th January 2022, 02:10 AM   #25
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See also Truecaller.
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Old 7th January 2022, 02:34 AM   #26
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I have good experience with picking up and not answering. Just letting them speak to themselves. Never called again.
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Old 7th January 2022, 05:49 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Is post 17 not what you want?

Didn't realize it was for mobile as well. Ya that could be good. Too bad phone companies can't supply this for free.


ETA: Looks like verizon has one, I didn't know that.

ETA 2: I already have it according to verizon website . I don't get many robocalls anyways but I still get a few.
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Old 8th January 2022, 03:04 AM   #28
gnome
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Originally Posted by jadebox View Post
I used to use a program called PhoneTray. It used a modem connected to your computer to block spam calls. It accessed a central database and made it easy to review calls and mark them as good or spam. It was very effective and easy to use, but it required you to have a computer running all the time and connected to the phone line through the modem. In my new home, that setup was not practical. And, PhoneTray is no longer sold.

So, recently I learned about RoboCallWall. It is basically the same thing except the computer is replaced by a little dedicated device which I assume is a Raspberry Pi or something similar. It comes with a modem and works much like PhoneTray did. Instead of using a program running on the device, you access a website to review calls and set them to be allowed or blocked. The website is very basic and rather ugly, but it works. I have now been using it for about a month and it has blocked about 40% (!) of the calls to my landline. It did block a non-spam call because the Caller ID was not available for some reason. I manually added that number to the Allowed list so it shouldn't happen again.

I am generally pleased with RoboCallWall so far.
Isn't there a problem where phone spammers are spoofing their numbers, so that lots of blocking winds up useless at best and interfering with the actual holder of that number getting their calls through at worst?
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Old 8th January 2022, 09:15 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
Isn't there a problem where phone spammers are spoofing their numbers, so that lots of blocking winds up useless at best and interfering with the actual holder of that number getting their calls through at worst?
Sure, there is always the chance that the spammer will spoof a number that someone you know has, but the chances are rather low of that happening and you can review blocked numbers and move them to the "Allowed" list.

All I can say is that the system is doing a good job of blocking spam calls including the ones spoofing local numbers.

It also has a feature to block all calls from a specified area code or area code and exchange. If you used that feature you would have to manually add all matching numbers to the list that you want to receive.
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Old 8th January 2022, 01:10 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
I’m visiting my parents who are still on a landline, and they are receiving lots of robocalls every day.
If you or your loved ones are using Johnson and Johnson baby powder…

That’s the most common call, but there are some others. It happens many times a day, causing my aging parents to have to answer many fake calls.

Has anyone had any success in stopping these?

I can think of three possible approaches, but am not too confident and wanted to get feedback. I’m also worried to make any major changes right before I leave my parent’s home for the next several months.

1) see if the calls are coming from the same number(s) and try to block them.
2) try and utilize some sort of do not call list or service
3) some of the calls say “press 2” to stop receiving further calls. I’m skeptical and think this may even make the problem worse.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
I wish I could tell you the formula for stopping or at least slowing down spam phone calls, but I haven't. Most of these come in with spoofed caller ID, often using same area code and exchange as the number being called, so blocking the numbers doesn't help much. The don't care about the federal do not call list, and probably not any other. You are right to be skeptical about the "press 2" option. It will not stopt them from calling, and I think a lot of them use it to inform them that they got a valid phone number, if they are sequentially or randomly dialing. So, depending on my mood, I either ignore the call, answer it and hang up right away, or mess with the scammers (and probably 95% or more of them are scams. The closest to legitimate are probably Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder ones. They are most likely fishing for class action plaintiffs. The worst are the IRS and Social Security impersonators, who are running a plain old con game.
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Old 8th January 2022, 01:42 PM   #31
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But I *like* to know when my VISA card has unusual activity. Seems to happen about every two weeks. I always press 1 in order to provide my card details so they can look into it further.
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Old 8th January 2022, 03:37 PM   #32
Norman Alexander
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
The reason spoofed numbers exist is for companies with private exchanges. Employees can have their own number, but when they call out it shows on caller ID as the company name and the main desk phone number. Tailor made for spammers to abuse.

We still have our landline but the outgoing answering machine message starts out "Hi, it's us. We don't answer this phone because nobody calls it but spammers, but if you've got a legitimate reason to contact us, leave a message". Most robocalls detect the answering machine and hang up.
That's our method now. Spammers can talk to the (answering machine) hand.
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Old 10th January 2022, 07:11 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
But I *like* to know when my VISA card has unusual activity. Seems to happen about every two weeks. I always press 1 in order to provide my card details so they can look into it further.
I got one of those recently where I was told my card had been used to purchase $210 of something somewhere that they named. I said, "Yes, that's right" and the customer service agent seemed a little confused. So I hung up.
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Old 10th January 2022, 07:40 PM   #34
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
That's our method now. Spammers can talk to the (answering machine) hand.
My plan doesn't include an outgoing message on my missed call service, but if it did, I'd set it to "Hi. If you're hearing this message, please hang up and send me a text, because I haven't paid attention to voice mail since 2006."
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Old 12th January 2022, 03:30 AM   #35
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I remember a discussion (here?) many years back about answering machine messages. Ideas included "Hello, this is Bomber Command. Sorry there's no-one available to take your call but if you leave coordinates we'll arrange an air strike as soon as possible."
"Hello, this is the NSA. No need to leave a message as we already know what you want".
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Old 12th January 2022, 10:47 AM   #36
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When we still had a landline, I just turned the ringer off. The caller id box would blink if I had a voicemail to check.

Now, I have no landline. Some combination of Verizon service and my Google Pixel phone keeps most spam from even coming to my attention. If the phone thinks it's spam, it sends it straight to voicemail.

Caller ID spoofing backfires for the few that get through. I have the same phone number I got when I lived in Vermont, but now live in Kentucky and have no reason to expect any calls from Vermont, so anything with an 802 area code gets ignored.
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Old 12th January 2022, 01:33 PM   #37
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"I'm sorry I missed your call but it's 2022 so literally everyone I know just texts each other and 99% of the phone calls I get are from roboscammers so this form of communication is functionally dead to me. Thank you, please leave a message at the beep, I will literally check it never."
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