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Brit regulator pats self on back over nuisance call reduction: It's just 4 billion now!

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Re: 60 a year? The UK Sounds like Paradise!

In the USA, unwanted phone advertising is covered by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

You should look into it. $500 per call ($1500 for wilful violations) makes it a fairly lucrative hobby to go after violators.

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If government was serious about this...

... they could easily stop it. I mean, the "security services" know perfectly well whenever each of us takes a dump or combs her hair - not to mention reading all our emails and listening in to our phone calls. They certainly - admittedly - have all the metadata, including which number called which other number when.

So they could easily call in the SAS or whatever and take those bastards out if they wanted. (For the soft-hearted among us, make that the Special Law Services).

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Re: Special Law Services

Just make that Special Revenue Services ;)

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FAIL

The ICO is useless

Can't even stop O2 from calling me about switching my phone to them despite the number being on the TPS list. They are just not interested.

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Typical Marketing Call

They usually go like this:

*work phone rings*

*sighs*

*picks up phone*

Me: Hello (company name) how may I help you?

Them: Hi I'm calling from X I was just wondering if you send parcels?

Me: Is this a marketing call?

Them: Well, yes but I thin...

Me: Are you aware this number is registered with the TPS?

Them: No

Me: Well, it is please do not call this number, I have noted your company name down and should you call this number again I will forward your information to the TPS.

Them: I'm sorry if I bothered you *hangs up*

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical Marketing Call

"Them: I'm sorry if I bothered you *hangs up*"

Then repeat next day.

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Re: Typical Marketing Call

no it isn't typical at all

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Thumb Down

"Ofcom’s latest estimate is that approximately 3.9 billion nuisance calls are received by UK landlines per year"

Well done reducing it but you're still far from the target of 0.

PS: No i haven't been in a fucking accident, i don't have a licence (by choice). And O2, stop fucking calling me and asking what you can do for me...You fucking called me!

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The rate of reduction of the rate of reduction is up a big, big 0.0002 percent this year!

... With apologies to Keith Laumer.

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I found an easier way.

Ditched the landline.

Registered with TPS years ago.

Don't give out my number unnecessarily.

Always utilised the follow procedure on mobile:

- If caller known, answer.

- If number withheld, refuse call.

- If caller unknown, Google them or look them up in an app.

- If no relation or no business relationship, block it permanently on the phone (e.g. by adding to a "fake" contact called Spam with no ringtone suffices even if your phone is out of the Ark).

- Anything important, they'll text, email, ring back, write or call you from a proper number.

Number of spam calls since September: 0

Number of spam texts since September: 0

While all around me people are often answering their mobile phones in work or at leisure and dealing with insurance claim guys, I get basically nothing and even when I do, I just let it ring out and then see if the number was spam.

I've had the same number for nearly 15 years. I've changed providers many times. I've got all my services tied to that number, all the SMS confirmations, 2FA, etc. so it's in quite a few places. I moved flat recently and don't have a landline so all my utilities etc. are registered on that number too.

But if you just never answer unless you already know who it is, they all die off or get nowhere. Hell, just set your normal ringtone to silence / no vibration, and then set your contact's ringtone to something actually audible. No bother at all and no hi-tech required.

If I was really bothered, I'd get a SIP line or a Skype number and just forward it to a mobile that accepted nothing else, and then change it whenever it got spammed.

P.S. Reporting spam texts is a waste of time - it doesn't forward the originator's details, and when the place you report it to reply and want that you have to send another text with "the number it appeared to come from" (which is always faked anyway), and then literally nothing happens.

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Oh, no voicemail either.

As far as they're concerned my line just rings forever until they give up or I cut them off.

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FAIL

The Office of the Chocolate Teapot

Just like all the other so-called regulators, Ofcom and the ICO are utterly useless. They have an unhealthily close relationship with those they are supposed to regulate, and they don't want to fix the problem because they'd rather issue turgid reports for the next thirty years just to keep themselves employed and looking busy.

Why doesn't the dozy Ofcom simply mandate that 1477 (Automatic Call Trace) is made available free of charge on EVERY line? (They eventually decided to do this for Caller Display, but sadly it won't happen until October.)

1477 stores the originating number at the victim's exchange for enforcement action, even if it's been withheld or spoofed. It's simple, quick and far better than laboriously trying to report fake numbers to the ICO. But despite having been a standard network facility for decades, hardly anyone has ever heard of it, even within BT. Even worse, apparently it's only available on business lines.

Similarly, Ofcom should require all telcos to offer the equivalent of BT Call Protect free of charge; it shouldn't be available only from the most expensive telco.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Office of the Chocolate Teapot

Exactly.

Why has OFCOM still not been abolished yet? Rhetorical - because a politician (Call me Dave) promised it would be.

Alternatively, when is someone going to fine them for being incompetent and taking money under false pretenses?

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Thumb Up

Pain in different flavours

In New South Wales Australia the gov's "Do Not Call" register works well, you put your name on a list and all cold call and marketing companies have to use the list to remove you from their database or prevent their system calling that number. It works for mobile numbers also.

If you get a call, they will check your number to confirm the situation then after a couple of warnings will fine the offending organisation.

Australia has also made it illegal for unsolicited junk-mail to be sent to Australians from Australia.

While we get a little bit from businesses we use, we generally can control that with account options.

One trick I had from my mobile service provider was to say I had a missed call, but when I rang to check my voicemail, it said the caller left no details, so no follow up. I had to disengage all voicemail on my mobile, telling friends and colleges to SMS a small message in lieu of voicemail.

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Re: Pain in different flavours

"In New South Wales Australia the gov's "Do Not Call" register works well, you put your name on a list and all cold call and marketing companies have to use the list to remove you from their database or prevent their system calling that number. It works for mobile numbers also."

This is how the TPS in the UK works too. Sadly, the enforcement is a bit lacking and most calls, it seems, come from contracted-out "lead generation" operation in India. It's a loophole that needs closing, along with the "this is a survey" type calls which eventually lead to details being passed on to a sales company who, thanks to the "survey" now claim a "business relationship" with you.

Considering that the government do actually carry out real surveys in this manner, you'd think that they might do something about the scammer "surveys" so their real callers don't get told to fuck off by reflex by everyone.

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This post has been deleted by its author

I'd put a blocker in

But my wife gets a lot of calls from family in Germany so none of the numbers are traceable.

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Re: I'd put a blocker in

As long as Caller-ID is available, German numbers are as traceable as UK or Dutch numbers. German numbers start with +49 (and Dutch with +31).

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Re: I'd put a blocker in

"But my wife gets a lot of calls from family in Germany so none of the numbers are traceable."

Why are they withholding their numbers?

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Re: I'd put a blocker in

Because they use cheap SIP based services.

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Flame

Scary recent exchange

This is a phone call I had last week:

Hello (my name), how can I help?

(Sales bullshit)

Are you aware that this number is TPS registered?

Yes, but I don't really care

(click)

First one I've experienced which was that brazen.

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Re: Scary recent exchange

"Yes, but I don't really care"

It makes you wonder what the success/hit rate is on TPS registered numbers. By definition, people registered with TPS don't want sales calls so I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead and therefore a waste of their time to call in the first place. At best, all they are getting is confirmation it's a "live" numbers that will be answered by a human who doesn't want sales calls. I'm not sure that that is especially valuable data. At best, shonky companies might pay for lists of confirned numbers (and also waste their time) but any responsible company should be running any purchased lists against the TPS list and filtering them out, which immediately tells them the list suppliers are liars who should be reported for fraud.

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Unhappy

Re: Scary recent exchange

> I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead

Yes, but spammers don't think. Their whole business is based on going against the odds, it's based on that .001% of positive responses they will eventually get.

So, whatever you do or say, they will carry on, they don't really care if *you* are not interested, for somewhere among all the refusals hides their next victim, and all those failures are just the dirt through which they have to sift to reach it.

Which means that opt-out lists are as efficient as no-bite lists for mosquitoes...

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Bronze badge

Re: Scary recent exchange

"It makes you wonder what the success/hit rate is on TPS registered numbers. By definition, people registered with TPS don't want sales calls so I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead and therefore a waste of their time to call in the first place"

Hypothetical: your gran has Alzheimers. Do you put her on the TPS list, or not? How many people do you think make that choice?

There are probably a lot of people who are on that list because they, or their carers, know they're vulnerable. And so, the scammers know that the TPS list probably has a higher proportion of vulnerable adults on it than the general pool of phone numbers.

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Pint

Solution at the end user, er..., end

We need a $50 price class wee feisty PBX-like gadget. It would intercept incoming calls, except those on a local, user controlled, white list would be allowed through immediately after their Caller ID matches (2nd ring).

It could programmed with all sorts of UI features to screen calls from unknown (not white listed) numbers. Spell first name, etc. It could also take voice messages, and be Internet enabled.

The crazy Caller IDs would go straight into either Null, or into a robot voice Hell Banning playpen to be annoyed endlessly.

Seems like a cheap device to build and sell.

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Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

I use this on a Raspberry Pi:

http://ncid.sourceforge.net/

It has blacklists and whitelists, which can include regular expressions. For blacklisted calls it can play a recording or emulate a fax machine. Best of all, in the UK it will seize the call before the first ring, so you are never interrupted by the spammers. It's a simple matter to parse the log file to create a web report.

(No connection other than as a user).

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Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

Not quite in the $50 price range but since installing one of these I have had a grand total of zero junk calls get through

https://www.truecall.co.uk/

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Pint

Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

Re: Two examples provided.

So, proving yet again that "...everything has already been invented."

Lovely. Thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't get mad, get even

And have fun at the same time.

Incoming spam text - "£2.452.87 has been allocated for your recent accident. Just fill in the form at http://www.weareambulancechasers.co.uk and your money will be released to you"

Which, is of course, a load of old bollox.

So the best thing to do is fill in that form. I find the person injured is usually John Doe, or Michael Rodent, or Roland Rodent. They generally have had every bone in their body broken.

So there's some amusement to be had when Clearly A Spammer's Number calls my mobile.

Yes, I do have too much time on my hands But using to waste a spammer's time is fun. And, noticeably in the medium term, more effective than anything Ofcom or the ICO have done. Both spam texts and the incoming calls following are noticeably down.

And yes, the number is on the TPS list....

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Re: Don't get mad, get even

I used to do this with 419 scammers (Nigerian princes by email). It's all fun and games until your email inbox is full. Must be even worse when your phone never stops ringing?

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Well, I have it sorted.

I simply do not answer any incoming calls, and have turned the ringer down to near inadibility. I've alerted all my acquantences to my mobile number and use the mobile for outgoing calls, too. I need the landline for internet, so cannot cancel the service. My outgoing calls on the mobile I've worked out to be only 25% of the cost of a landline call, so, for me, it's win, win. And for BT, lose, lose.

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I've recently started amusing myself thus:

Given that, as I understand it, their priority is to keep you on the line and NOT hang up on you, I've hit on this to give myself something to do when this happens...

*ring ring*

Me: Hello.

Scum-sucking parasite: Hello am I speaking to Mr. *****? (or other innocuous opening)

Me: Yes.

SSP: I understand you've been in an accident/entitled to PPI refund/need you to answer just three market research questions...

Me: What are you wearing?

... (the sharp ones hang up at this point)

SSP: What do you mean?

Me: (as creepily as possible) What sort of clothes do you have on?

... (most hang up by now, but so far just one hardy soul has ploughed on, off script and confused...)

SSP: Why do you want to know what I'm wearing?

Me: (Honestly surprised I've got this far and deciding OK, you asked...) "How am I supposed to masturbate to the sound of your voice if I can't picture you in my mind?"

... The invective I was subjected to before they hung up was in such heavily accented English (or possibly not in English) that I can't, unfortunately, report its contents. I honestly don't know what I would have done next, if they had, for instance, actually described their clothing.

Either way, it's given me a chuckle several times so far. I recommend it.

I can also report that it is AT LEAST as successful when deployed (by me, a man) against men as it is against women. And before anyone suggests this is in any way creepy or harassing-style behaviour, THEY rang ME.

If you're a woman, I'm going to stick my neck out and recommend you don't try this approach.

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Gimp

Re: I've recently started amusing myself thus:

Superb.

As for, "I honestly don't know what I would have done next, if they had, for instance, actually described their clothing." get creative with your wildest imagination - the Internet has much to offer in the way of inspiration, see Icon! For good measure, place an old Marigold glove* by the phone in case you need sound effects.

*These are branded rubber gloves usually used for washing dishes and other household chores, if anyone isn't aware.

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Anonymous Coward

Fun to be had

I play a game of how long I can string them along and keep them on the line. Oh the accidents I've had before I announce 10 minutes later that I don't drive.

If they're wasting their time talking to me they're not phoning someone else. Plus nothing gets you off their hit list faster than ruining their conversion rate.

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Trollface

To get your own back.....

Keep a VERY LOUD whistle by your phone..........

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jcblock

I've set up a Raspberry Pi with a C program I found called jcblock. It has a blacklist and whitelist function and can block whole ranges of numbers. I use a USB voice modem to answer junk calls before they even ring the phone. I enhanced the program by adding a recorded message for withheld numbers and a time of day function because the NHS will insist on withholding its numbers.

That worked well until spammers started "spoofing" their CLI with numbers in ranges that have not yet been allocated by Ofcom. My answer to that was to download the entire UK allocation tables from Ofcom's website and grep for any well-known teclos such as BT, Sky, Vodaphone, etc. and leave out any protected or unallocated ranges. I also omitted any tinpot companies such as Voxbone SA, Gamma telecom, Magrathea, etc. who seem to specialise in extending their number ranges overseas to spam call centres. The file is 24,000 entries long but the Pi still skips through it fast enough for the phone not to ring.

This combination is almost perfect but the real answer would be for Ofcom to revoke the licences of these rogue telcos and the PSTN to block number spoofing.

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TPS, I re-register every now and then.

This seems to work well, very, very few calls and if I start to get some, I re-register and they seem to stop again, works for me.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/boss-firm-fined-making-100-10396244

ICO fines company; company files for insolvency. Perhaps all these sorts of articles should include amounts actually paid rather then eye-catching headline figures.

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