back to article California man's business is frustrating telemarketing scammers with chatbots

Every week there seems to be another cynical implementation of AI that devalues the human experience so it is with a breath of fresh air that we report on a bedroom venture that uses GPT-4 technology to frustrate telemarketers. "Fight back against annoying telemarketers and evil scammers!" the Jolly Roger Telephone Company …

  1. Andy Non Silver badge

    Definitely a good use for chatbots

    However, I wonder how far we are off from the day when you can walk into someone's kitchen and overhear an argument going on between their "Talky toaster" and the fridge, with the vacuum cleaner piping in now and then complaining about all the bread crumbs on the floor.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

      "Do yoiu want toast?"

      "Your cheese sandwich is about to expire in two days, six minutes and three seconds."

      "Your floor is so dirty it needs a good suck, for a long long time, wouldn't that feel good? No more stupid breadcrumbs all over the floor!"

      "Cheese toast, jam and cheese toasted sandwich, how about toast with a bit of oregano and olive oil?"

      "Your have no jam left, should I place an order for jam? The jam flavour of the day is chocolate nuts."

      "You no longer make me suck things anymore, I live to suck things for you! Remember the carpet? That was amazing! We were at it for almost two hours!"

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

        "I rarely get cold calls"

        Last one of those I had was at work and when asked by the lovely chap from the Indian Subcontinent if I had been injured in the accident that wasn't my fault, I said:

        Me: "Yes it was awful I've never been in a fatal accident before at least not one where I died"

        Sounding very interested: "So you were injured in the accident?"

        Me: "Yes mortally wounded as it turned out, the funeral was lovely though"

        Sounding very interested: "Can you describe your injuries?"

        Me: "Yup Death by Decapitation and not the good kind*, not going to walk away from that"

        Sounding extremely interested: "Have you spoken to a lawyer yet?"

        Me: "No very few people talk to you when you're dead, I'm grateful for your call."

        Sounding disinterested: "Are you saying you didn't survive the accident?"

        At this point there is the sound of someone else joining the call.

        Me: "Yes, and I wouldn't recommend cremation if I were you, bit hot!!!”

        Line goes dead

        Ole Juul on these very forums had a brilliant one for the your computer has a virus scammers.

        I usually just tell them I'm not running Windows. Next question is "Mac?". "Nope - BSD", I say. Some ignore that because they don't know what it means and I tell them they're an idiot and that's the end of that conversation. Others say "oh" and hang up.

        But one time as response to "your computer is sending out viruses" I said "yes?" and he repeated the statement several times until he finally heard me. "Yes, that's what I do for a living", I calmly said. "How may I help you?" He was silent for moment, then said "just a moment, I'll get my supervisor". The supervisor came on and repeated the accusation, and I explained to him that this is no surprise since "that's what I do for a living". I could literally hear the wheels spinning in his head for a moment, and he finally said "Oh, that's fine then." ... and hung up.

        1. parlei Bronze badge

          Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

          Back when I got them I sometimes tried to sell them a used car.

          "Hello, I'm calling about underwear subscription..."

          "About the car? It is a 1987 Volvo 745, runs ok, even if there is some smoke when you cold start it"

          "Underwear, you can choose your..."

          "As expected there is some rust, but with a bit of paint and some putty it should pass the annual inspection: just don't take any speed bumps too fast and you should be fine"

          "We have all kinds to suit your preferences, such..."

          "It does leak some oil, but less than a litre a day, at least when it is cold enough: I just keep a pan under the engine when I park it. "

          The car progressively got worse and worse, with me admitting to strange noises, not all cylinders working, and some drastically uneven tyre wear, wobbly steering, electrics that would be the envy of Lucas, a gear box that worked best of you briefly shifted into reverse before going into 5th gear, brakes only working on the left side (but not all the time), duct tape holding the fuel tank up, etc.

          The goal was to make them give up and hang up

    2. elDog

      Or, we could just say that the bots' human equivalences are biological

      Husband and wife and children and others. We are already perfectly adapted to having these non-sense discussions.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

      "I wonder how far we are off from the day when you can walk into someone's kitchen and overhear an argument going on between their "Talky toaster" and the fridge"

      The roots of this have existed for at least half a century. See RFC-439.

    4. Natalie Gritpants Jr

      Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

      Struggling to think if I could distinguish that situation from a visit to some of my real life friends

    5. noisy_typist

      Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

      Like this?

      (Red Dwarf)

      1. Bebu Silver badge

        Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

        So you are a waffle man? :)

        I missed the original Holly - if all AI had his wikedly dry humour I could be more sympathetic. Perhaps not.

        "Toastercide" alone worth the price of admission,

    6. Ozan

      Re: Definitely a good use for chatbots

      I don't know when but it won't be my home. My home is analog.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long befoe telemarketers start using AI to chat to "customers?"

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      With the scripts that some companies make their operators use, you could argue it's been going on already for decades.

      1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        That's more a case of artificial stupidity.

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          No, that's AI for you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I know a certified AI tech. Artificial insemination that is, does mostly cows...

    2. Andy Non Silver badge

      The conversations would become utterly surreal. I wonder which bot would hang up first or neither?

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        A possible future

        A "hard science fiction" comic strip I once saw, where "true" AI is real...

        ("Legs" is our protagonist calling tech support.)

        NARRATOR: Six hours later...

        PATRICK: Sequur-Cam Tech Support, I'm Patrick O'Day. Ummm... how did you get this number?

        LEGS (on comm): I waited on hold until you picked up.

        PATRICK: That shouldn't have worked. There's an A.I. that intercepts long holds and redirects to the Hypernet site.

        LEGS: Right. I also called a suicide hotline, and conferenced us all together. Your A.I. let me straight through.

        PATRICK: Interesting.

        LEGS: Yeah. Your call-center A.I. was right on the edge. Ready to pull her own plug. She's having a nice intervention right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A possible future

          A colleague of mine who had been through a particularly frustrating tech support marathon said that he was going to jump off a bridge and hung up.

          He got a call back shortly after from somebody very high up in the organization and got a solution in rapid time.

          1. CommonBloke

            Re: A possible future

            Considering we're talking about tech support, and a solution coming from very high up, the only conclusion is that both the client and that techie were terminated

    3. Andy E
      Thumb Up

      I think it might be an improvement!

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      In the future it'll be chatbots all the way down

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "While no one can put a price on slamming the phone down on a call center worker"

    If you can live without using the phone for 10 minutes or so don't do that; they'll just hit somebody else.

    Ask the salesdroid to hand on a moment - there's somebody at the door, the children need something or whatever. Then lay the phone aside for a while, then hang up. Consider it a public service. Bonus points if you can get them to call back for a second dose. Double bonus if their supervisor calls to tell you there's something wrong with your phone line - yes, it really happened.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      "While no one can put a price on slamming the phone down on a call center worker"

      Despite wanting to tell the call centre workers where to go, I try and remember that they are humans stuck in a dead-end job trying to make a living to put food on their table.

      1. Chris Evans

        When I give up stringing them along...

        I suggest politely why don't they get a job that their parents and children can be proud of them doing rather than trying to steal from people, they'd also probably sleep better at night.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: When I give up stringing them along...

          I ask 'em if their mummy knows what they do for a living, and if she's proud of them.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: When I give up stringing them along...

            I tend to finish there, but the length of the journey depends on how busy I am at the time.

            Quite often they swear at me. It's cathartic, in a way.

            1. John Tserkezis

              Re: When I give up stringing them along...

              I had one caller who caught some choice words from me, she called me back THREE TIMES to tell me I can't talk to them like that.

              Turns out, I could.

              1. parlei Bronze badge

                Re: When I give up stringing them along...

                I had a one of their supervisors call me and ask why I was so nasty to their salesperson: apparently I had reduced a newbie to tears. I simply asked who had cold called whom, and why I was supposed to be the only one annoyed by an interaction that I did not choose to initiate?

                But then I started thinking about the poor person who had to take a shitty, dead end job to make ends meet. So I started to just ask to talk to their manager, politely but firmly, and them asking them exactly what legal basis they had for calling just me about this particular service or item.

                1. tiggity Silver badge

                  Re: When I give up stringing them along...

                  If you are UK based sign up to Telephone Preference Services.

                  Means people are not allowed to cold call you (though they still do) as legit marketeers* should check peoples preferences..

                  I always take as many details as I can of who is calling so I can put my report in later. In scenarios when original caller does a transfer to a "supervisor / manager" I then have fun casually mentioning the violation of TPS rules in contacting me.

                  * Are there legit ones? Who knows - never had a call from one.

      2. jake Silver badge

        "I try and remember that they are humans"

        Assumes facts not in evidence. Post proof or retract.

        "stuck in a dead-end job"

        Trying to MAKE MONEY FAST without actually working. The more folks they annoy, the more money they earn. Lovely.

        "trying to make a living to put food on their table."

        So are your local drug dealers and burglars. Do you use the above defense for them, too?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So are your local drug dealers and burglars. Do you use the above defense for them, too?

          I do for the Drug Dealers! They're at least providing a service people want! :P

          Burglars not so much...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Most drug dealers I've met work a lot harder than I do

            1. jake Silver badge

              Yeah, drugs will do that to ya.

              Work smarter, not harder ...

        2. JoeCool Bronze badge

          "Trying to MAKE MONEY FAST"

          This is the mistake in your thinking. The telemarketer calling you is getting paid very little. The real culprit is the _owner_ of the call center.

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        This is absolutely the right view if the workers you're thinking of are the ones you call because you need them to do something. It's also at least a bit valid when they're doing something legitimate even though many will find them annoying. Pollsters, for example, may not thrill people, but they're trying to do something that doesn't harm you and the results of which you might use. However, most of the calls I receive are not from pollsters or anybody else doing a real job, nor even from the group of telemarketers who are doing nothing useful but at least it's legal. Most of those who call me automatically are entirely focused in either stealing money from me, stealing identifying data from me so they can sell it, or selling something fraudulently to me based on a complete willingness to lie about, for example, knowing who I am and having records about me.

        That group is not stuck in a dead-end job, they are choosing to be criminals. That's not strictly true, because there are a few (not by any means a majority, though) which coerce people into doing it. I do not show any sympathy to those people, and I don't suggest you do either.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

          I believe some are gullible enough to believe that they're actually working for a company contracted by ${your bank} or ${government department} and that their job is to get callers primed to talk to someone actually from the organisation then transfer the call.

          But wasting the time of the dangerously gullible who are working for fraudsters is just as worthwhile.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I try and remember that they are humans"

        Including double-glazing salesmen?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At one time, I was getting a load of spam calls asking for my wife by her maiden name. I assume they got her details from an old mailing list. I would say I was going to get her, then put the phone down on the table and see how long they waited.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I once got a call asking for me by name, "Hello, am I speaking to Mt John Brown?" No, says I, you have the wrong number, my name is Steven Brown, goodbye.

        10 mins later, "Hello, am I speaking to me Steven Brown?" LOL. They do listen and take notes. I've had more calls from supposedly different companies asking for "Steven Brown" since then too. Same company, or selling on "corrected" or "confirmed" data?

        1. Old Used Programmer

          I refuse to give them any data they don't already have. I would have stopped at the "you have the wrong number."

          1. parlei Bronze badge

            Is there a law against lying to them?

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "I refuse to give them any data they don't already have."

            I wasn't, exactrly. They had "correct" data and I gave them "incorrect" data, which they then used. I like to mess with them and poison their databases whenever possible. :-)

      2. Old Used Programmer

        I get calls for my late wife. I tell them that she is no longer at this number. If they persist, I tell them that I do not have a new number for her. If they then try to pitch *me* for whatever scam they're on about, I have no compunctions about how to deal with them.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      ""While no one can put a price on slamming the phone down on a call center worker"

      I can't remember when I last saw a phone capable of being slammed down in a way that the other party could hear it. Now all you can do is pretend by making a banging sound, possibly with the handset, and then pressing the button/tapping the screen to hang up afterwards. The person on the other end may have never seen that type of phone and not even know that the bang means you are annoyed and have hung up :-)

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Even the old ones didn't really work: sure, it 'slammed' for you, but for the other end? The call terminates when the switches in the base unit are pushed down by the handset, so they just get a click.

        This is why my mum would bang the handset on the table *then* hang up on them.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Yes, there was an "art" to hanging up so the other person heard the bang. Your mums version worked, but was more crude. When you slam it down you have to hit the frame of the rest before it hits the switches and do it all in one smooth motion :-)

  4. Ace2 Silver badge

    I think the quickest way for us to get rid of spammers - since bans and enforcement will never work - is simply to tie them up on every call. If it took 5+ minutes for each call their business model would collapse. This is a GREAT start but we need a way to scale it up (and make it free, I ain’t paying).

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Another way would be to get everyone to never agree to anything that comes from an unsolicited phone call. No exceptions. Don't even listen to the proposal. That would also kill the business model quickly.

      The nigh-unfeasible part of all these ideas, of course, is that we can't really get everyone to agree on doing anything. Or, well, technically we can, but it's called "bans and enforcement".

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        That's why we need something which, if a small group does it enough, will cause enough problems to destroy the business model. We can't rely on everyone doing what we do, but we don't need them to if we can routinely get them all to waste their time.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "if a small group does it enough, will cause enough problems to destroy the business model"

          The problem is that it's the other way around. If even the tiniest group take up their offers, they will still make enough money to justify it. And that tiny group of suckers will always exist. So you probably need quite a large percentage of targets to tie up the callers' time in order to make it really unprofitable for them.

          1. Killfalcon Silver badge

            Those suckers are (seemingly) rare, enough that over the last few years more and more scammers are transitioning to trying to hijack or double-down on other scammer's victims. Offering to "help recover funds" or "the FBI are compensating victims of international fraud".

            It still doesn't take many retirement funds to keep a call centre running, mind.

      2. rafff

        "never agree to anything that comes from an unsolicited phone call."

        No. Agree to take it, but refuse to pay.

        Unless it's one of the fake support lines, in which case give them an IP address in the 127.*.*.* range.

        1. Alistair Silver badge

          Re: "never agree to anything that comes from an unsolicited phone call."

          I've taken to firing IPV6 link local IPs at them. Monster confusion when they can connect .....

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      I think the quickest way for us to get rid of spammers … is simply to tie them up on every call.

      A friend of mine was plagued by a very insistent cold caller wanting to sell him a conservatory. In the end he gave in and said they could come round to size up the job. The sales rep was exceedingly disappointed to find out that at the time he was living in a first(*) floor flat.

      (*) Second for leftpondians.

      1. Sherrie Ludwig

        "I think the quickest way for us to get rid of spammers … is simply to tie them up on every call.

        A friend of mine was plagued by a very insistent cold caller wanting to sell him a conservatory. In the end he gave in and said they could come round to size up the job. The sales rep was exceedingly disappointed to find out that at the time he was living in a first(*) floor flat.

        (*) Second for leftpondians."

        I lived in a brick rowhouse (terrace for rightpondians) and got daily calls for aluminum cladding. I kept telling them it was not feasible, take my name off the list. Finally, I caved and told ALL the callers to come out for an estimate, but gave them all the same time and date. Cue three very grumpy salesmen showing up, with me saying, "I've only wasted your time once, my time has been wasted for several weeks of your brainless cold callers not taking my number off the list. I will KEEP MAKING APPOINTMENTS and having you all burn gas and time until your firm gets the message". Only took once.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          rowhouse (terrace for rightpondians)

          Thanks, new entry for the translation dictionary.

  5. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    "Every week there seems to be another cynical implementation of AI that devalues the human experience..."

    There is? I must have missed those. Most of them seem to range from mildly useful as long as you don't rely on it to pointless but insignificant. I haven't come across any important enough label as devaluing yet.

    I do like this wheeze with the cold calling scammers, though - excellent application of the tech! Short of giving them a good seeing to with a big stick, it's a perfect comeuppance for them. Just he very sure it's a scammer you're using it against; I recently saw one if my clients answer his phone, listen for a few seconds, then fire off an irate broadside of naughty words that are quite out of character for him and hang up. It turned out to be his doctor.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "It turned out to be his doctor."

      Was his doctor offering him cut-price penis enlargements or viagra? Or perhaps letting him know he has a virus? Or offering to provide advice to help pay his bills? Or offering low cost insurance?

    2. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      If you want specifics, I meant people who think you can make money by selling AI-generated dross rather than actual human art.

    3. Old Used Programmer

      The doctor probably needs to think about what he says when someone answer the phone. I get calls that are obvious recordings that start with, "this is a call from your utility company." My utility company starts with "This is <name of company>." Therefore, the former start is clearly spam.

    4. swm

      If I answer, I always interrupt with, "How can I help you?" This blows them out of their script but if it is a friend etc. they just tell me how I can help them.

      Doesn't work for the current crop of recorded telemarketer calls though.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        I just say nothing - almost all of them hang up wordlessly if they get a silent line. I assume it's probably because a lot of the numbers they try are duff, so the code skips aggressively.

        Actual people say "hello" or the like.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the scammers will catch on?

    They now routinely check if they're inside a VM to see if they're talking to a scam baiter, so scam baiters have to go to extra lengths to change the disk names and things. I expect they'll start catching on to these robots pretty quickly.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Surely the scammers will catch on?

      How long until someone hacks Android to add another option when a call is received other than "answer call" and "ignore call". The new "harass caller" button would answer the phone normally but it would connect the caller to a chatbot instead of the phone's microphone/speaker. Good luck "catching on" to that any faster than they could catch on to a person baiting them in the same way!

      The only problem is that the most annoying calls - political calls - are all robocalls so having a chatbot wouldn't annoy a real person. Worse, it might make them think I was interested in what they were saying since it wouldn't see me hang up right away like I do now.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Surely the scammers will catch on?

        "since it wouldn't see me hang up right away like I do now."

        True, but if the political robocaller is kept on the line spouting the spiel, and lots of people do it, it significantly cuts into the number of calls they can make if every call lasts the full length. Depending on how "clever" the software operating the robocaller is, they may well mark every "completed" call as being a likely voter since "you" listened to the whole spiel :-) So, reduced number of people harassed and poisoned database. Win, win.

  7. M7S

    A part time scambaiter writes:

    Bloody AI, stealing our jobs!!

    Still, very useful for when I really haven’t the time or inclination…..

  8. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

    These days on my landline I use a answerphone and do not pick up unless I can identify the caller, I do not pick up 'Anon' callers. If they leave a message and I am interested I may reply if they dont then it was unimportant. These days they often use systems where they can call out but it does not work for replying (that is often used on mobile calls) so why would I be interested in their call? They could send a text, but this rarely happens. Further, replying to a text can be a trap ,,,,

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      I do not pick up 'Anon' callers

      I would love to do the same but my GP's surgery withholds their number for "privacy". My bank used to do the same (now stopped). Bloody annoying.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Anonymous Cowards

        Your phone company can block anonymous calls from ever reaching your line. Of course they charge money for this service, but I can honestly say it is worth every penny. And it will force "legitimate" callers to call from a line that identifies itself -- if your line never even enters the "ringing" state, it is they who have failed in their duty to attempt to contact you, as opposed to you declining to speak to them.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

          Re: Anonymous Cowards

          All the junk calls I get these days are from fake numbers, never anonymous. Quite a few in the same area code.

      2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        > withholds their number for "privacy".

        If they really want to speak to you they will start leaving a message at which point we pick up the phone, usually we just get silence and then the call drops

      3. tiggity Silver badge

        Indeed, same number concealed approach for local hospital (& have old, ill relatives who frequently are in there) so cannot ignore calls without caller id (as medical services don't leave useful messages for patient privacy reasons as multiple occupancy dwelling with shared phone & if hospital they generally call next NOK number if they fail to get a reply, but if they do leave a message it's generally uninformative for same privacy reasons). As it can take not far short of eternity to "get through" to GP or hospital by phone, then anon calls unfortunately need to be answered in case its important health stuff.

  9. Medixstiff

    I want the one that starts with "Hello, You have reached the Australian Federal Police..."

    1. jwatkins

      ... and very confusing if you're not in Australia :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Alright Mr Smartypants:

        "Hello, You have reached the Australian Federal Police, outside our normal business hours..."

    2. sanmigueelbeer

      And I've got one (since 2016) that answers the phone with, "Hello, this is Lenny."

      I used to get one scam call per month. After turning Lenny loose, I was getting one a year!

  10. pantsu

    Please explain your relationship to the deceased....

    My favourite way of dealing with unsolicited calls is to state that my name is DCI Baffle, Murder Squad™, then proceed to tell them that they've just called a phone which is present at an active crime scene that's being investigated so they should start explaining how they came to know the poor soul who's lying cold on the floor - and if they hang up I'll just have Despatch reverse trace the call so they had better start singing like a canary. You can almost hear the bowell movements begin.

  11. SonofRojBlake

    My favoured response, once they've finished their preamble, is to simply say "What are you wearing?".

    The first time I tried this, in a sad indictment of the state of our society, the lady on the other end clearly knew exactly where I was going with that and immediately hung up.

    The second time, the lady with the VERY nice voice said "what do you mean?", to which I had to reply, in the creepiest voice I could manage, "what sort of CLOTHES have you got on?". She caught on, and hung up.

    The third time, the question came back "Why do you need to know what I'm wearing?", so I replied "How am I supposed to masturbate to the sound of your voice if I can't picture you while I'm doing it?". Well, Register readers, he did NOT like that. He swore at my quite a bit, then hung up.

    Not a method that works if you're a lady, I think, but I recommend it to all blokes - scam calls seemed to dry up almost completely after the third one. I must be on a list. Perhaps a register.

    1. Evil Scot

      Maybe. Men can be just as freaked out at this.

      (Scot as in nationality)

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      A lot of them start with “Good {{ time_of_day }} madam. Can I speak to the head of the household.”

      Because obviously we are still in the 19th century.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    So AI does have an actual use after all? And there was me thinking it was just for creating nightmare fuel images, allowing lawyers to cite cases that don't exist, and lazy students to cheat by submitting essays full of nonsense.

  13. rafff

    Dealing with scammers

    Fortunately, the UK Government has come to our aid and has published a handy list of words that you can use, tailored to the ethnic origin of the caller, whether British or foreign.

    1. Mr. Flibble

      Re: Dealing with scammers

      Cool, there's even non-english swear words in there!

      Today has been an education....

  14. entfe001

    Things I did reply before I got so fed up with unsolicited phone calls that I put a white-list on my phone where all non explicitly vetted numbers are automatically rejected:

    * When asking for my name: just a moment, then shout out loud my name as for "come here and pick the phone", and leave it alone or who are you asking for? you've got the wrong number

    * When asking for my dead father (who died 9 years ago but is still present in many spam databases): either don't you even respect the dead or just a moment until i set up an ouija session

    * When trying to sell me an ISP subscription: about time! I've been without Internet for a week and still not heard a word from you! and don't dare interrupt the call until you fix my problem or give me an answer! (obviously, I am not their client)

    * When trying to sell me an utility contract: sorry, I work for ${other_provider} and have free/discounted fare

    * When trying to offer me coupons for $whatever: ok, send them to 123 Fake St.

    * When in a particularly bad mood or busy: answer in a foreign language (however, it once backfired)

    What my mother does is making them repeat everything ad eternum pretending with an astonishingly convincing old lady voice she doesn't hear well until they give up. She does hear well and is not that old

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Although the foreign language can backfire, if you're good enough at languages, you can probably create gibberish that sounds kind of like a language you speak. Doing one that's similar to one you know means you are probably better at preventing repetitions. I have found it effective at getting them to hang up but it isn't very good at making it take a long time.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scam callers

    Get told to ram a long pointed stick up their rectum and then sit on it.

    "Chris", my local energy advisor keeps on coming back despite repeated pointy stick responses. The last number he used as called ID was 0191 and I'm on the South Coast. Local my ass.

    1. WaveSynthBeep

      Re: Scam callers

      'Chris' is a bot: it does speech recognition, looks for pauses in your voice and then selects a phrase to play from a dictionary. It's designed to make you agree to having an appointment, and then it says that somebody will ring back to confirm a time. Once they've got you to agree, a human will ring back. It's actually quite a smart way to screen for victims (from the scammer's perspective, anyway).

  16. Zebo-the-Fat

    After many many calls from a firm asking about the accident I never had (once 3 times in the same day) I asked to be removed from their list, when they called again a said "I hope you get cancer and your children die in a fire" For some reason they never called me again... was it something I said??

  17. Mostly Irrelevant

    This is cool, but there is also a $0 solution for cheap people (like me). Almost all these people use auto dialers so what you do is record the "this number is disconnected" tone as the beginning of your outgoing message. This causes the vast majority of autodialers to mark your number as a bad number and never call you again

  18. D-Coder

    For some reason the spammers always ask me for the expiration date on my credit card.

    I tell them, "Just a sec, it's in the other room." Then I put the phone on my desk and do other stuff for ten minutes.

  19. blert

    I'd like to be able to provide a contacts list to my provider - sort of. Any inbound call/sms not on that list gets charged and I get credited money.

  20. Gerlad Dreisewerd

    I did something similar. I had a rather persistent caller. After one call too many I handed the phone to my autistic son who entertained the caller for a solid hour. We must have hit the no call list after that escapade. That one never called again.

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