Phone spam

Anyone phoning me from outside the UK: please use my mobile number, or contact me in advance to let me know you’re calling. Otherwise I may assume it’s spam.

There’s some wretched call centre trying to call me most days. It’s from outside the country and my phone doesn’t display the number, but I think it’s the same one persisting. If I answer, the pattern is always the same: a few seconds of silence followed by an Indian voice asking the standard “am I the owner of this phone” question.

This is my home phone number. It’s not advertised on my website, and doesn’t solicit any kind of calls. It’s for friends and family, and a small number of business contacts who I’ve given it to individually. It’s on the UK national don’t spam me list, so (in theory) any UK-based spammer abusing it could be in trouble. So they outsource their dirty work.

The last couple of times (including today) I’ve tried to get the fax machine to answer and give the bastards an earful. Who knows, they might even have a computer that notes the fax on the number and stops harassing me. But I can’t do that in the time available unless the fax machine[1] is already turned on. And I use it so rarely it can go for weeks without ever being powered up.

Can anything be done? What I’d like is a ‘spam’ button I could press when I receive a call, that would instantly charge the caller – say – £1 (US$2). Enough that it gets expensive to spam when people start using it. I don’t care who gets the money: presumably not the consumer (too open to abuse) or the telecoms provider (ditto – though I guess they could take a small admin fee). Charity would be nice, but I’d even be happy to see the government pocket it. Just so long as the spammer has to pay it.

[1] Actually an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax machine.

Posted on August 7, 2007, in rants, spam, telecoms. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with you 200% Nick (which, as you know, is not always the case). I had a bunch of these shysters ringing me persistently a while ago, trying to talk me into some mobile phone deal or other (I’m perfectly happy with my existing provider). As you say, being based abroad they are not regulated by the UK’s Telephone Preference Service, and they kept ringing back even though I had told them, politely at first, that I wasn’t interested. Eventually they gave up after I got a bit rude, then stopped answering anything that said “Number Unavailable”.

    Yes, I’d like to see these outfits penalised big time. I consider phone selling of any kind to be one of the most obtrusive invasions of privacy – the recipient has no choice over when to receive the call, unlike email spam which one can review and dump at one’s leisure, or junk postal mail which simply makes its way swiftly to the recycling sack when I can be bothered to pick it up.

    OK, I could unplug the phone altogether, but that’s neither fair on genuine callers nor reasonable when I have a very sick and elderly father to think about.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with these sad wasters would be appreciated. Oh, and BTW, does anyone actually buy anything from these unsolicited, unknown callers? They’d be pretty stupid to do so, given what “persons unknown” can do with bank or credit card details…

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