Cheap Calls Lead To International Phone Spam

from the can't-wait-for-this dept

For a few years, we’ve been warned about the impending doom of VoIP spam, though much of that concern was centered on automated calls sent to users on VoIP networks. Apparently the real problem is being driven not by the ability to send out thousands of calls from a computer as easily as sending out thousands of emails, but rather the ever-falling prices of international voice calls thanks to VoIP and other market developments. Telemarketers, scammers and other annoying callers are simply avoiding local do not call regulations by going global and taking advantage of cheap international call rates to make their usual calls with autodialers and recorded messages to the PSTN. There’s not a lot of recourse for consumers or regulators, since the calls are passed without caller ID information, making them difficult to trace, and it’s not as if people making these calls really care about following local laws. And as the cost of calls continues to fall, it would seem the problem is simply going to get worse — with the same kind of people who buy from or get scammed by email spam making it worth VoIP spammers’ while to harrass the rest of us.

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Comments on “Cheap Calls Lead To International Phone Spam”

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ugly_john says:

Tell me about it man!

I get an average one call a day from India trying to sell me DISHNET service, sometimes 3 calls in space of one hour. They laugh when I mention “do not call” list. They have scanned the telephone directory and pulled out East Indian names and call them everyday. I know this because they still quote me my old address. There is SIMPLY no way to avoid these calls. I have taken to hangup whenever somebody asks for me by my FULL name.

DISHNET, if you are hearing, I WILL NEVER SUBSCRIBE to your services no matter what. I am so thoroughly disgusted.

claire rand says:

work around

get caller display and set your phone not to ring when you get no number with a call.

downside, many legit agencies also hide their number, but they can always write to you i guess.

or get yourself a ‘press 1 to talk to me’ system, which will nuke the auto dialers, and probably confuse the hell out of india.

i hate this.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do not like getting calls. This is so and so we wish to talk to you please call us bac at. “hangs up” want to talk to me.. CALL ME not automated crap.. then again all my bills are paid no reason for anyone to call me so usly I hang up. Got something to say .. write me 🙂 which will get my addred blackedo ut.. mailed back with nothing in it. costing them more 🙂 muwhahhaa

ebrke says:

Caller ID

I NEVER pick up a call when I don’t recognize the number on the caller id. If it’s someone unknown and it’s important, they can leave a message, just like they would if I was not home. I have the service that screens anonymous calls, but that’s of almost no use these days since the nefarious calls all display something on the caller id to get around this kind of service.

Lay Person says:

There is no end to idiocy...

See, it’s all the idiots in this world that give both spammers and telemarketers incentive.

Idiots respond to spam.

Idiots converse with telemarketers.

Idiots please allow me to explain in simple math:

[Spam – Idiots = 0 Spam]

[Telemarketers – Idiots = 0 Telemarketers]

So you see, if you idiots didn’t engage in either, they would receive nothing in return, if they receive nothing for their effort, they are wasting their time, if they are wasting their time, they’ll be forced to get real jobs elswhere and proceed to forever close down their mining operations.

Oh yeah idiots…Mining = Spam and/or Telemarketing

kweeket says:

Re: There is no end to idiocy...

Actually, if you think about it, people who converse with telemarketers (but don’t buy anything from them) are providing a valuable service to the community. The more time those people interact with the telemarketer, the less time that telemarketer has to bother other people.

The idiots who BUY stuff from telemarketers are really the ones perpetuating the cycle. Ditto for people who buy from spammers.

Greg says:


Just follow this general strategy:

– Pick up phone

– Identify that it’s a telemarketer

– put down phone and let them talk

– go about your business listening for dead air

– if dead air say “i’m listening”, or “could you repeat that”

– when they get wise say “well, now you know what it’s like to have your time wasted by some dickwad on the phone”

– hang up

– smile

chris (profile) says:

VOIP white-listing?

how about a system/service that whitelists callers, i.e. rejects all calls from numbers not on this list.

callerID is easily spoofed by many PBX systems, so blacklisting (rejecting calls from a list of offenders) only works for serious offenders.

whitelisting is a common practice for stopping spam via IM (adding someone to your friends list and only accepting IMs from people on your friends list).

granddaughter says:

voip attacks

The worst attacks are on the grandmas who don’t have a computer, and never will, and have no life experience to prepare them for the sociopaths roaming the internet. There are large numbers of elderly living relatively solitary lives who will totally fall for social engineering scams. Phone scammers have not had free rein with this population before, because it takes a pretty sophisticated outfit to buy an ISDN line and pulse fake caller ID over a tdm-based pbx, but with voip spoofed caller ID, any toad in a basement can get to these vulnerable folks. Now the same boyos that have made their millions on spam and phishing and spyware have started attacking our moms and grandmas. Fake churches, fake banks, etc are preparing for a feast. Imagine if, say, the pathetic jerk who robs people with winantivirus decides to pretend to be First National Bank, calling from his voip “call center.” Today I heard of an old guy who was taken for 40 grand by criminals using a voip line.

The problem will not be limited to incoming spoofed calls, but to outbound as well. US mail letters will target zipcodes, and urge people to contact some legit co., like, an area bank or utility, and give them a phone number to call to solve some problem. Many people will give up their private and financial info if they think they are making a local call to a local business, and never realize that the social engineer is on a line that terminates in romania. Mostly that’s thanks to level 3 which sells “call center” services, and sells “fake” non-geographically assigned phone numbers to scum or to “distribution affiliates” that re-sell to scum. VoIP co’s have no incentive to prevent this onslaught. They need one.

Greg Eaddy says:

Rampant violation of Do Not Call

I have recently been bombarded with phone calls from a foreign country, sounds like India. My phone company says they cannot prevent it and Federal Do Not Call says can’t help with international phone numbers. This is ridiculous! It’s like 3-4 calls an hour and from across the globe. You tell them you’re not interested and someone else calls back minutes later. This loophole is only in the beginning stages. America should prepare to get bombarded.

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