How to stop (or make life miserable for) anonymous robocallers?
August 26, 2009 4:23 PM   Subscribe

What can be done about a persistent anonymous robocaller who is not easily identifiable and who does not abide by the U.S. Do Not Call registry?

I'm guessing that I'm not the only MeFite who has recently received a robocall masquerading as a political survey. From a particular nasty robocaller, as their modus operandi is to leave voicemail if you don't answer saying something like "This was a political survey. We may call back later." And then they call the next day. And the next. And the next... Being on the "Do Not Call" list makes no difference. Calling the originating number results in an Eternal Busy Signal.

Based on googling "202-461-3459 robocall", a lot of people are getting these calls. The surveys appear to be sponsored by different groups, with the common denominator being right-wing politics. Presumably they are all contracting with the robocall company.

My landline phone carrier says they have a service to block calls from selected local numbers, but not from long-distance numbers. Do Not Call registry doesn't apply to political calls. And the originating company seems well enough hidden that one can't complain directly to them. They're as bad as a porn spammer from Uzbekistan. And if this company is getting away with it, others are going to follow.

Long-term, the only solution is to tighten Federal law on telemarketing. Short-term... is there anything to be done?
posted by Creosote to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If your current phone provider won't let you block calls by number, port the number to one that will. I use a VOIP provider (ViaTalk) and they let me route calls by full or partial number (e.g. all 866/877/888/800 calls) or by caller ID name. Calls can be routed to voicemail, to a busy signal, to another number, or to a "do not call this number again" recording. Works like a charm.
posted by kindall at 4:32 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you can assign a ringtone to a specific caller, assign a silent ringtone to that number. I've done that for some evil spammers who got my cell phone number. They called again today and I didn't even notice.
posted by PatoPata at 4:52 PM on August 26, 2009

Record the opening tone for "number out of service" on your answering machine and it may flag you as a out-of-service number.

Vacant circuit SIT Tone.

This is what the Telezapper does.

Note this may not work with carrier voice mail but will probably work with an old-fashioned answering machine.
posted by GuyZero at 4:59 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I switched my cell voicemail to the free version of YouMail and it allows me to assign "custom greetings" for any number - that includes an automatic hangup, a traditional "out of order" greeting and even the ability to block it completely. Not to mention all voicemails are kept as mp3s, text notification - too many features to mention. It was robocalls from one particular number that caused me to go to YouMail a year ago and it's been great.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:50 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Complain to the FCC. I've done this a couple of times and the calls actually stopped. I'm not sure if it was just a coincidence, but it's easy and the right thing to do, so why not?
posted by zinfandel at 7:55 PM on August 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the link, zinfandel. VOIP isn't an option for my household as a replacement service yet, and this is a landline rather than a cellphone, so the FCC complaint will at least be doing something. Plus these are particularly despicable robocalls (from a D.C. area code, some with identifiers looking "federal") so I'm happy to let the FCC know what I think about them.
posted by Creosote at 8:03 PM on August 26, 2009

I have a cheap toll free number that I use on my landline.

The advantage, aside from allowing friends and family to call me for free, is that a) toll-free numbers are immune to call ID blocking and b) I can block any number, or partial number, or area code, or whatever.

I can also send particular numbers straight to voice mail or send all calls outside of certain hours to same, or if I'm busy I can have all of my calls go straight to voicemail, which is emailed to me. I can also forward the number to any other number I want, so I can have it ring on my land line or my cell phone, or any other number. Etc., etc.

I've also noticed that I never get any sort of solicitation calls on my toll-free. I pay about $20 a month for the number plus whatever the low LD charges are. memail me if you want my provider, or just google for toll free, there's a million providers out there.

Note, if you do this you should drop all services to your regular phone except the basic line. No voicemail, etc. You want everyone you know to call the toll free and leave you messages there. I ignore any calls directly to my landline, they're either wrong numbers or robocallers.
posted by maxwelton at 9:58 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Is this a Jimi Hendrix song, and if so, which one?   |   September dinner party ideas Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.