Getting scammy/random calls on my cell of late...
April 26, 2017 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Every so often I'll get unwanted calls, but they tend to be thankfully few and far between (aside from when I got put on a political call list for a while). The past few days, however, I've received a much higher number of weird calls that are not for me, most of which seem to have a real person on the end but some of which are robocalls. Any ideas on what gives?

The calls are from a variety of area codes (I know the numbers could've been spoofed). Of the more memorable ones, one person was persistently looking for a friend, another seemed to think I was his booty call, one just asked me to urgently bring over toilet paper, and a couple were robocalls about student loans. Did some list with my cell just get published? Is it just a coincidental clump? Is blocking these numbers even remotely accomplishing anything nowadays? Is someone pranking me? Should I stop answering the phone if I don't recognize the number?
posted by vegartanipla to Technology (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1) I NEVER answer the phone unless it's a number I know (or I can tell it's a local area code like a doctor's office.)

2) I've been getting a crazy number of calls lately - as have my parents. Our guess is tax-season scams.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:48 PM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

i don't think there is anything in particular going on, but this is a trend that keeps getting worse. If the caller is not in my address book, I do not answer the phone. If it turns out to be someone I want to talk to, I call back and add them to my address book. I block all numbers that turn out to be unknown or unwanted . I have 327 blocked numbers. I see no downside to blocking a number or adding a valid one to my address book. I use Google Voice and Google for my contact list. If for some reason I do decide to answer an unknown number, I turn on the recording. Most people hang up when they hear the announcement that this call is now being recorded.
posted by AugustWest at 7:08 PM on April 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

I was actually wondering the exact same thing after I got what must have been the third unknown, random call today in just the last few days. I'd count probably 8 or 9 of these in the last two months. Never answer, and they never leave a message.
posted by rbf1138 at 7:15 PM on April 26, 2017

I am having this same problem. Got calls today, in fact. They are all apparently spoofing themselves as local numbers. A lot of the calls now come from the same area code and same first-three digit phone numbers, trying to trick me into answering because it looks local.

I'm at the point now where if they don't leave a voicemail, and it's not a number I know, they do not get a call back and the call does not get answered. If it calls more than once from the same number, I block the number.
posted by kup0 at 7:26 PM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just block them. No worries. My husband works for a carrier. They are just crap numbers and you should block them and never think about it again.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:27 PM on April 26, 2017

Did you recently register a domain name and not have private WHOIS contact info?
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been getting the same. It's ridiculous.

In addition to what others noted above, I read that if you happen to answer the call (which we all know we shouldn't but sometimes it just catches you off guard) after you say 'hello' and realize it's a scammy call just hang the eff up. Apparently if they ask "Is this vegertanipla?" And you respond "yes", many have been recording you saying "yes" which they then can contort and play back later out of context as 'proof' that you authorized a payment.

Ugh. So annoying!
posted by floweredfish at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2017

I get a ton, but my mother is getting a little confused as she gets older and she keeps putting my number instead of hers into scammy Publisher's Clearing House "offers", because mine she can remember and hers she can't. The other day I got 15 scam calls, about 8 of them were student loan or repair your credit ones. The others just disconnected before I answered. I used to block them all, but they spoof a new number every day, so there's no point. I answer them because ... well, I don't know why. Most numbers I have in my address book, but once in a while it's actually a call for me. Plus I hate hearing a ringing phone. And sometimes I like to cuss out the callers (if there are real humans) and call them scammers. The "United States Government Grants Department" is always a person and I always tell them that they should be ashamed of themselves. It does no good, of course, but I feel slightly better about my life.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:51 PM on April 26, 2017

Adding to the chorus ... I started getting robocalls with nobody on the other line about 1-2 months ago. I get about one a day. Sometimes two.
posted by ellenaim at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2017

I've been getting one or two a day for years. My rule of thumb is to never answer a call from a number I don't have saved unless they call twice in a row (my thinking being that if it's an actual person and it's something important they'll call twice; I've never seen a junk call do that). Otherwise, if it was important, they'll leave a voicemail and I'll call back.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:02 PM on April 26, 2017

I recommend downloading a spam blocker app to your phone. It's not perfect, but it definitely helps.
posted by suelac at 9:04 PM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I installed an app called "Should I Answer" for Android. It compares incoming numbers to a constantly updating list of known spam numbers. If something gets through I add it to the list. You can also set it up to only ring for numbers in your contact list. It's not perfect but it has been helpful with the calls from Cardholder Services and crap like that.
posted by irisclara at 9:45 PM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I very seldom received scam calls until a couple of months ago. Now I get several calls/week from unknown numbers, which I never answer. When this began, I googled the numbers and about half had already been reported as problem numbers. I don't do this anymore because it's just not worth the time. I do add these numbers to my call blocker.
posted by she's not there at 10:45 PM on April 26, 2017

They are all apparently spoofing themselves as local numbers. A lot of the calls now come from the same area code and same first-three digit phone numbers, trying to trick me into answering because it looks local.

Happened yesterday and the only reason I answered is because it was so close to my number. There was a pause, so I knew it must be a telemarketer, and then this: My name is (whatever) and you recently stayed at one of our resorts...

Which is a really stupid intro because right away, nope, not a resort person, but spring vacation just finished so that might explain the timing. At any rate, back to ignoring unfamiliar numbers.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:58 AM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I never got spam calls until last year and now it's a constant barrage. I've stopped answering calls from any unknown number, if it's important they'll leave a voicemail and I can call them back.

I don't know why this surge happened but I can absolutely confirm that it IS happening and it's very very annoying.
posted by lydhre at 2:59 AM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

In my case, it's the domain name thing. My Whois info is public. I would, in fact, like a free vacation, though.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:59 AM on April 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

They are all apparently spoofing themselves as local numbers. A lot of the calls now come from the same area code and same first-three digit phone numbers, trying to trick me into answering because it looks local.

Yeah, only answer numbers you know, this new local call technique is apparently fairly effective, i've seen a few of them and ignored them. Not everyone does though, i got a probably legit voicemail from a local number confused about why my number had called them, which i had not - my number was spoofed, although luckily just to a few local people and not the entire country requiring a number change.

Google's nexus and pixel phones have a nice app that will give suggestions as to whether a call is spam, but its not available to other phones at the moment.

Maybe try a do not disturb/priority setting to only ring on known numbers?

Phone companies ought to be able to block all the spoofed calls themselves, but they seemingly refuse to.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:48 AM on April 27, 2017

I have an app called Hiya that, for known spam calls, does not ring my phone (ahh, peace!), just sends them to voicemail (which gets transcribed through Google voice, so all I have to do is delete the email, not call into voicemail).
posted by Dashy at 5:54 AM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in the same boat. I have received 17 unknown scammy calls this week alone! Its driving me nuts. I never answer and block the number. But I'm starting to get fed up with having to take that extra step, because they will just keep coming up with new numbers to call from.
posted by JennyJupiter at 7:40 AM on April 27, 2017

Chiming in to say this is happening to me as well. I get 1-3 spam phone calls a day, and it picked up around 1.5 months ago.

The registered domain comment upthread rings a bell: I recently let my domain lapse.
posted by scrubjay at 7:55 AM on April 27, 2017

It seems worse to me too. I get 4 or 5 spam calls a day. I just never answer any # I don't recognize.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2017

Another anecdata point to say that in the past month I've been getting ~5 calls a day like this.

Did a do-not-call law or regulation expire or something?
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2017

I've had this problem for the last couple years. A few months ago, I changed my WhoIs contact details on my domain to a fake (555) phone number, and the number of spammy calls has dropped, though not gone away entirely.
posted by writermcwriterson at 8:51 AM on April 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Did a do-not-call law or regulation expire or something

IIRC, the last time this happened (late 90s-early 2000s) it turned out that something like 90% of the robocalls were from one guy...who I believe got sent to jail. Seems like either he got out or someone else popped up to fill the void.
I've been getting the 'same area code, same prefix' calls myself...last time I answered, started screaming at it, and hit 0 a bunch of times (hoping to get an operator) and ended up getting a different message saying that I wouldn't be contacted again...sooo...try screaming and hitting 0 a bunch?
posted by sexyrobot at 9:14 AM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Did a do-not-call law or regulation expire or something?

The Do Not Call rules are unenforceable against foreign actors and scam artists, which is 90% of those spam calls coming in.
posted by suelac at 9:24 AM on April 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do Not Call can't do much against these robocalls (which are mostly spoofing and VoIP) without the cooperation of the telecommunications companies, who have decided it's in their financial interest to allow you ceaseless scam robocalls.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 AM on April 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thanks, Eyebrows, that's the link I went looking for earlier. It's not encouraging.
posted by suelac at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2017

The app YouMail changed my life.

I was absolutely bombarded with spam calls for a number of years to the point where I never answer my phone unless I know who the caller is and I have my phone scheduled to go on silent from 8PM-8AM.

Anyhoo.. my life changed for the better the day my good friend told me about an app for the phone called YouMail. I just checked and it's available for both iOS and Android.

Let me expound on the glory that is this app.

If you deem a number as a spam caller or they are on the apps' known spam caller list, you can specify they get a recording of "dooo dee doo.. we're sorry, the number you have reached is disconnected.."

You can block unlisted numbers all together and they get a message that "This phone does not take blocked calls."

My spam calls went from 6-8 per day down to maybe only 1 or 2 per week actually getting through. If I research them and find they are spam, I simply blacklist them in the app.

You listen to your voicemail through the app and it has a reasonably good transcription so half the time you don't even have to listen.

A call history so you can see who called, who left a message and who hung up.

Swoon! I want to marry this app. FYI - I am not a shill, I have no connection other than than a seriously satisfied user.
posted by crayon at 4:07 PM on April 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

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