Mysterious Autocalls
January 30, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Help me deal with mysterious automated phone harrassment.

For the last week I've been receiving phone calls, usually 7 or 8 times in a row in about as many minutes from a suburban area code outside the city where I live (Toronto). When I answer, the phone is silent. It also leaves these silent voice messages, filling up my inbox. The call-bursts happen at night, in the morning, in the afternoon, it seems kind of random in the timing.

I have no idea of the purpose of these calls. I tried calling the number back on two separate occassions, and to my surprise got an answer, the first time by a confused Indian lady who claimed to be the maid and who said she has no idea what I was talking about, and the next time what sounded like a young girl who also swore she didn't know what I was talking about. I got this phone number last year.

So...I'm not sure how to deal with this. I called my phone carrier (Koodo) to see if they could block this number from calling me. Apparently they can't, and they told me my best option was to change my number, which I really do not want to do. Is there some authority in Canada that deals with these problems other than the cops? Does anybody know what the nature of these calls might be? The mysteriousness of this is almost as bothersome as the calls themselves.
posted by eagle-bear to Human Relations (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably getting one of the infamous Markham robo-dialers. For some reason, that 905 suburb is a haven for dodgy automated sales calls meant for the US and circumventing the US DNC list.

Google the caller ID number. You won't be alone.
posted by scruss at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2011

This may not be a solution outside of the US, but if you let google voice take over your voicemail, you will be able to block the number.

It does take a bit of work to use google voice in Canada, though. I'm not 100% sure you'll be able to reconfigure the voicemail for your current number to work with google voice, even following these methods, but I hope you find a solution!
posted by lesli212 at 3:26 PM on January 30, 2011

If it's always the same number, save it in your contacts and set a silent ringtone for it.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:28 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

I suspect you're boned. lesli212's hint about using Google Voice in Canada won't stop your problem, because your phone would still get direct calls from this number. It would help you make calls across Canada and the US for free, but it wouldn't stop someone from calling you (or be able to use the fancy blocking features). Plus, I get "spam" calls on my Google Voice too. It is easier to squish them, but many (like the "you've won $1000" calls I get in Spanish from a new number every time). Until Google goes to Canada with Voice, and you can have a Canadian number you can use as your main number to screen calls for you, you're stuck.

But as IndigoRain suggests, you can make it so the ringtone on your phone is set to silent so you won't get (as) annoyed. Android and jailbroken iPhones have apps to enable you to blacklist numbers and send them straight to voicemail. My 5 year old Sony Ericsson phone does this and my six month old iPhone does not.

Changing your number probably won't help because these types of calls will probably call your new number as well. And you have to go through the annoying project of letting everyone you know of your new number.

You can complain to the government but the people making the calls don't care about that. Although the calls say they originate in the 905, they could be coming from anywhere on the planet. That when you called the number and got people confused why you're calling them helps show that the caller ID is spoofed.
posted by birdherder at 5:09 PM on January 30, 2011

Look up the number on If nothing else you'll have the comfort of knowing you aren't alone; at best you'll find someone else has posted the story of how they got the calls to stop. I very much doubt you won't find the number listed.
posted by kostia at 7:00 PM on January 31, 2011

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