back to article Phone scamming up 30 percent last year: Report

Retail and finance call centre phone scamming in the US is up 30 percent according to research. The 2014 findings are based on some 86 million scam calls a month picked up by Pindrop Security in which attackers aimed to obtain personal information on potential victims. The phone security company says one in 2200 calls are …

  1. Number6

    Call Blocking

    I have a simple approach now. I have an Asterisk PBX running on an old Sheevaplug, a MySQL database and a few Perl scripts. An incoming call gets the CLI looked up in the database and known bad numbers are answered, a recorded message is played and then it hangs up, all without ringing the house phone. Unknown numbers get ignored, on the basis that real people will leave a message, scammers will just hang up. Then I look up the dodgy ones and add them to the database for next time. Known good numbers also get added to the database so that they'll present an identifiable text string to the phone.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge

    Good morning, this is Robo Dialer, you can call be Rob

    Yes, I'm sure the Tax Office would call me at 6:20am asking for me for personal information about a obviously bogus unpaid 'invoice'.

    Annoying, yes.

    Stupid, very.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Ofcom

    Time to make Caller ID available on all phones without extra charge. Yes some Phone companies still think it is an optional extra.

    Then we can block the buggers ourselves.

    Oh for a device that will actually answer a call from a blocked number and send a 110dB whistle down the line. Sort of like a Dog whistle. Probably illegal here though so it is just wishful thinking. But it might be nice to give something back to those so called 'survey scammers'.

    1. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Come on Ofcom

      Compression would render your whistle harmless, sadly.

      How about a "modem" chirp that would wipe their robodiallers instead?

    2. fishman

      Re: Come on Ofcom

      40 years ago, we were getting nuisance phone calls in our college dorm. The phones in our rooms had numbers that were in sequence, so I could hear my neighbors getting calls just before my phone would ring. So when they called, I took a firecracker and lit it, setting it right by the mouthpiece.

      The crank phone calls stopped after that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't help but feel...

    This couldn't happen without tacit complicity from the telcos who are 'on the take'. And with toothless regulation, you only ever see paltry fines like those below. But these guys are outright 'crimos' in suits! Fining them just hurts company workers, customers and shareholders!

    Will we ever see any jail-time for greedy fraudulent execs???

    "In October, AT&T agreed to pay $105 million to settle claims it billed wireless customers for unauthorized charges for services including horoscopes, ring tones and love tips. In May, Sprint Corp. and Verizon Wireless agreed to pay a combined $158 million to settle similar claims. And today FCC to Fine AT&T $100 Million for Slowing Mobile Data"...

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: Can't help but feel...

      Of course they are! But implementing features that make life less annoying is not profitable. People are not going to give up their telephone because of the scammers and it will cost a lot of money to implement a system to stop this.

      What we need is a system where spoofing a number is impossible. If a number is inconsistent with its origin, then the call is rejected. If a number has no number associated, then the call is rejected. And we also need a way to report scams quickly. I would like a system that if you get a scam, you dial *11, for example, and the last number that you called you, whether you answered or not, is reported to be a scam. (Of course, there should be a confirmation system: "The last number that called you was xxxxxxxx. Press 1 to report this as a scam otherwise hang up the phone.") After reporting a scam, the phone company will be required to trace and store the call details: where the call came from, the origin telco, and any other information needed to identify scammers. If a telco is consistent in allowing scammers, you would have the option to block all calls from that telco. You would also have the option to blacklist all or some international calls, international roaming mobile phones do not count provided the phone is verified. A telco could not act against a small number of scam complaints, because some are bound to be false. Legitimate telemarketers are annoying but not scammers, they would be reported by many to be scammers. A scammer reporting system would quickly make it hard on these people.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upvoted for McGyver like innovation...

    But seriously, do regulators think consumers should be expected to go to these kinds of lengths? How much is the PBX? How much set-up work is involved, and how well is it protected from hackers who want free international calls? Its twenty years since I owned a landline. However, its the likes of my Mum who gets these types of calls despite being ex-directory and it only happens on landlines. WTF???

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Upvoted for McGyver like innovation...

      SheevaPlug was a cheap ARM based server that fitted inside its own wall wart. They were $99 in 2009. These days, a Pi would be cheaper, but not as tidy as it requires an external wall wart. The computing requirements are not that steep, but as this is a 24x7 widget you might want something from this decade to save power.

      Asterisk is a free software router. The good news is it does everything. The bad news is you are going to have to read the manual to set it up. I liked the idea too, and my first thought was, why not put asterisk in the router. A quick web search later, and I discovered this was old news in 2010.

  6. gerryg


    I was briefly on a list used by sub-continent scammers. The first few were wanting to discuss my recent car accident which stopped after a few pre-emptions of the Boris Johnson gambit but my deepest regret was never to have received the Microsoft support call (worse, a non-technical friend for whom I have provided LOTD, has) but my most recent (and hopefully last) call gave me (Linux user since 1999) that satisfaction

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Somehow

      I happened to be at home for the last tech support call my wife received. She said nothing, smiled, and handed me the phone. Which I promptly took over to my Linux Mint machine, and played along (the menu items are similar enough), strung the poor sod along for a good 15 minutes, until he gave up and told me to call Microsoft.

      It was at that point that I, still playing the unfortunate computer user, asked him if I should tell them I was using Linux. His response had us giggling for another 15 minutes.

      "Fuuu..." [click]

      // since 1993

  7. adam payne

    Good Afternoon this is ****** from Microsoft.

    Your PC is spamming the internet this problem needs to looked at immediately or we will disconnect your internet / your PC will blow up or bad things will happen to you.

    We know it's your PC because your product code is ********************************

    String the person along for as long as possible and then laugh down the phone at the person.

  8. Tom 13

    "Rates of phone fraud are similar across economically developed countries, regardless of security regulations and legislation in place," the report states.

    Laws are quite useless when the local cops are unwilling to try to enforce them. About a year ago we were being called so aggressive I called them and offered to work with them to catch these guys. They weren't interested.

    As for the current report, I suspect their numbers are low. In the last two days my roommate and I have both gotten calls on the house land line: "Hello, this is Microsoft support calling."

  9. A Ghost
    Thumb Up

    I refer to my earlier (Indian Scam Baiting Story - par excellence)

    at the bottom of the page.

    They still haven't called back. Funny that. Hopefully they put me on that list after all.

    This is how you deal with these f*****s! Having said that, I'm not sure how many people have the time or inclination to waste 4/5 hours of their life on these lowlifes. It was fun though, and I was laughing for days.

    "Yes, that's right, that's my name - Bob Showaddywaddy"...

  10. Dave Bell

    The best I ever managed with the MS support scammers was to tell them that my IP address was

    These days, all I have to do is politely ask them for the IP address of the machine that's sending the reports they claim to have received, and they hang up on me.

    I still get possibly non-scam calls asking for people who haven't lived at this address for fifteen years.

    Actually, they haven't lived anywhere, period.

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