13 votes

I'm getting spammed by robocalls, what can I do about it?

Hello people of Tildes, long time no see! As per title, since some point last week I've begun receiving calls from extra-EU countries I've never had any contact with (Haiti, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia just to name a few).

No doubt it is part of a call back scam; of course I have never picked up nor redialed, still, this seriously blows as I've now been woken up twice at 3am during the week.

Now, I've never had such a problem before, nor have I recently posted my number online anytime recently. Has anyone here had a similar issue? What can I do about it (I'm from the EU if that might help)? Is there any way for me to find out where my number was leaked from?

I have just now installed NoPhoneSpam from f-droid, but have no idea how good of a fix that will be.

Let me know if y'all have any ideas, thanks :)

26 comments

  1. [4]
    vord
    Link
    Google's call screening does a damn fine job blocking robocalls. It was immensely useful when my workplace had my cell posted on a publicly scrapeable site. Not sure if it's available for...

    Google's call screening does a damn fine job blocking robocalls. It was immensely useful when my workplace had my cell posted on a publicly scrapeable site. Not sure if it's available for non-Pixel phones. Even if I purge Google from all other aspects of my life....that one will keep me tethered. It's been invaluable for my sanity.

    Added bonus: It transcribes callers in real time, allowing legit callers to get through by saying why they are calling. Like visual voicemail, but before they hang up.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      daturkel
      Link Parent
      I have a pixel but i would never use this feature because the idea of using it on a legitimate call is horrifying. I would never want to subject someone to the passive aggressive experience of...

      I have a pixel but i would never use this feature because the idea of using it on a legitimate call is horrifying. I would never want to subject someone to the passive aggressive experience of being screened by a robot.

      3 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        Helps that only people who call me are people I don't really want to talk to.... co-workers and spammers. Everyone else does internet video/voice chats.

        Helps that only people who call me are people I don't really want to talk to.... co-workers and spammers.

        Everyone else does internet video/voice chats.

        1 vote
    2. psi
      Link Parent
      There is something immensely satisfying about making robocallers talk to a robot.

      There is something immensely satisfying about making robocallers talk to a robot.

      1 vote
  2. [15]
    Iliketoast
    Link
    My wife has had similar issues recently. We are in the US and she's getting random numbers to call her but no one is ever there when she answers. Then they'll call back from a different number 15...

    My wife has had similar issues recently. We are in the US and she's getting random numbers to call her but no one is ever there when she answers. Then they'll call back from a different number 15 minutes later.

    Blocking doesn't help since they keep changing numbers and answering makes no difference since no one is there. I'm not getting the scam though if they never talk when she answers. They are US numbers so it's not a call back scam (AFAIK)

    3 votes
    1. [10]
      the_funky_buddha
      Link Parent
      US also, same kind of ordeal. If you have very limited people calling that you know and if on Android you can set Do Not Disturb mode so the only time it rings is for known callers. I believe iOS...

      US also, same kind of ordeal. If you have very limited people calling that you know and if on Android you can set Do Not Disturb mode so the only time it rings is for known callers. I believe iOS has something similar. This may be obvious to anyone who uses a phone regularly, I don't, but thought I'd throw it out there.

      5 votes
      1. [6]
        xnaas
        Link Parent
        Settings -> Phone -> Silence Unknown Callers I haven't had my phone ring in basically months and it's great. The only time this was mildly inconvenient was when my dentist changed numbers, but...

        I believe iOS has something similar.

        Settings -> Phone -> Silence Unknown Callers

        I haven't had my phone ring in basically months and it's great. The only time this was mildly inconvenient was when my dentist changed numbers, but they left a voicemail so I was able to update their number and it'll ring me next time.

        I don't know how I dealt with all the constant spam ringing prior to this.

        3 votes
        1. [5]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          You'll want to disable this if you're applying for jobs though. Learned that one the hard way. . .

          You'll want to disable this if you're applying for jobs though. Learned that one the hard way. . .

          3 votes
          1. xnaas
            Link Parent
            Yes, that's definitely something you don't want to forget when applying for jobs haha

            Yes, that's definitely something you don't want to forget when applying for jobs haha

            2 votes
          2. stu2b50
            Link Parent
            Which is ridiculous, I don't understand what is with company's obsessions over phone calls as opposed to emails like normal people for status updates. I remember I got like 75% the way through the...

            Which is ridiculous, I don't understand what is with company's obsessions over phone calls as opposed to emails like normal people for status updates.

            I remember I got like 75% the way through the Goldman sachs interview pipeline via email, then randomly they notified me that all future communication will be via phone call? For some reason? And I had to unmute my ringtone for like two weeks.

            2 votes
          3. [2]
            DyslexicStoner240
            Link Parent
            yikes... As if looking for a job wasn't tough and frustrating enough as it is :(

            yikes... As if looking for a job wasn't tough and frustrating enough as it is :(

            1 vote
            1. NaraVara
              Link Parent
              The funniest part is that they even left a voicemail. But the auto-transcription decided the recruiter's name was "Joe Biden" so I assumed it was a scam. (To be fair to the transcription, though,...

              The funniest part is that they even left a voicemail. But the auto-transcription decided the recruiter's name was "Joe Biden" so I assumed it was a scam. (To be fair to the transcription, though, his name did sound a LOT like Joe Biden even though it wasn't.)

              4 votes
      2. [3]
        DyslexicStoner240
        Link Parent
        I thought about Do Not Disturb, but at the same time, given I'm not in the same country as my parents any longer, I'd still prefer to be always reachable :(

        I thought about Do Not Disturb, but at the same time, given I'm not in the same country as my parents any longer, I'd still prefer to be always reachable :(

        1. [2]
          pvik
          Link Parent
          You can set who can interrupt you even on Do Not Disturb mode. In Android just set people who can disturb you as starred contacts and update your Do Not Disturb Settings. More info here Android...

          You can set who can interrupt you even on Do Not Disturb mode.
          In Android just set people who can disturb you as starred contacts and update your Do Not Disturb Settings.
          More info here

          Android also has a setting that allows the same caller, if they call a second time, within a 15 minutes window to go through and ring your phone.

          I am sure apple has similar settings as well.

          4 votes
          1. DyslexicStoner240
            Link Parent
            That's definitely something I wasn't aware of; I'll definitely have to check it out after work, thank you very much :)

            That's definitely something I wasn't aware of; I'll definitely have to check it out after work, thank you very much :)

            1 vote
    2. [2]
      Parliament
      Link Parent
      Don’t answer or interact with the incoming call in any way. Let it ring and go to voicemail. People who ignore calls completely are less likely to receive future spam calls. When I got a phone...

      Don’t answer or interact with the incoming call in any way. Let it ring and go to voicemail. People who ignore calls completely are less likely to receive future spam calls.

      When I got a phone (and my current number) years and years ago, it was when my parents lived in a state where they no longer live and we don’t have any current contacts. Many of my spam calls come from that state and are easily identifiable as spam calls. I have let them ring and blocked dozens (on iOS) over the last few years one by one as they trickle in. Now I get maybe 1 per month, and half the time it’s labeled Spam Risk.

      5 votes
      1. DyslexicStoner240
        Link Parent
        No idea this was a thing, that's definitely something I wish I knew earlier; will definitely keep that in mind.

        Don’t answer or interact with the incoming call in any way. Let it ring and go to voicemail. People who ignore calls completely are less likely to receive future spam calls.

        No idea this was a thing, that's definitely something I wish I knew earlier; will definitely keep that in mind.

        2 votes
    3. [2]
      DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      Well, supposedly by using the app I've linked in the OP you can block all incoming calls by prefix, so given that I'm not planning to travel or receive calls from north African countries or Haiti...

      Well, supposedly by using the app I've linked in the OP you can block all incoming calls by prefix, so given that I'm not planning to travel or receive calls from north African countries or Haiti I should be good.

      Your case sounds even more complicated if they are all US numbers, perhaps you might want to try to block all state numbers except your own (from what i gathered you have internal prefixes for each state in the US)? Still, you might get lots of false positives that way...

      2 votes
      1. the_funky_buddha
        Link Parent
        Yeah, it would be complicated to define a ruleset. Been a while since I checked but I don't think they even use the same prefix (area code), sometimes they'll even masquerade as your own area...

        Yeah, it would be complicated to define a ruleset. Been a while since I checked but I don't think they even use the same prefix (area code), sometimes they'll even masquerade as your own area code, sometimes not. If in the rare case I have an important call from an unlisted number, I won't get to it immediately but at least it still shows there was a call in the logs. I wouldn't be beyond endorsing laws against it and should they be in another country, imposing sanctions should the country not reign in their spammers. Actual lives, welfare and jobs could be affected by people now ignoring numbers due to all the spam.

        3 votes
  3. [3]
    Thra11
    (edited )
    Link
    In the UK, we have the Telephone Preference Service. This is of no use to you, since you are in the EU. I can't find any evidence of an EU-wide equivalent, but there are similar services in some...

    In the UK, we have the Telephone Preference Service. This is of no use to you, since you are in the EU. I can't find any evidence of an EU-wide equivalent, but there are similar services in some countries, such as bloctel in France. Your comment history suggests you are in Germany, so maybe you can report it to these people.

    Obviously I don't know how effective these different services are, but since registering my number with TPS, I have had zero nuisance calls (could be a coincidence, who knows). Also worth noting that 'Do Not Call Lists' such as these are not a particularly quick solution, as once you've registered your number there's generally a grace period before they'll start enforcing anything (because legitimate marketers need a reasonable amount of time to get the updated list before they can be punished for calling numbers which are on it).

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      First of all, much appreciated. While I am in Germany I'm still holding onto my Italian number since roaming is no longer a thing and prices are much more advantageous from my home country. I'll...

      First of all, much appreciated. While I am in Germany I'm still holding onto my Italian number since roaming is no longer a thing and prices are much more advantageous from my home country. I'll still give it a go while searching for an Italian equivalent, we'll see.

      3 votes
  4. Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    This is not advice for how to deal with robocallers, but related, I just re-found and posted an old wired article about taking down a robocaller kingpin. Really really interesting read IMO:...

    This is not advice for how to deal with robocallers, but related, I just re-found and posted an old wired article about taking down a robocaller kingpin. Really really interesting read IMO: https://tildes.net/~misc/uqb/on_the_trail_of_the_robocall_king

    2 votes
  5. RusticGiraffe
    Link
    If you're using T-Mobile you should turn on Scam Block. My spam calling volume decreased drastically after turning it on.

    If you're using T-Mobile you should turn on Scam Block. My spam calling volume decreased drastically after turning it on.

    2 votes
  6. joplin
    Link
    The answers here should get you going. I wanted to mention a similar issue I had. This probably won't help for your particular case, but I'm putting it here in case it helps you or anyone else. I...

    The answers here should get you going. I wanted to mention a similar issue I had. This probably won't help for your particular case, but I'm putting it here in case it helps you or anyone else. I live in the US. At the time this happened I was living in the Chicago area. I would bet that other locales have a similar procedure you can follow.

    Years ago (late 90s or early 2000s), my spouse and I moved into a new house. For whatever reason, the phone company couldn't transfer our phone number to the new place. (Maybe that wasn't a thing, yet? I don't really recall.) So we ended up with a new phone number. It quickly became clear that a previous owner of the number owed people money. We would get several phone calls per day asking for said person, and when we told them either they had the wrong number or there was nobody with that name, they'd say things like, "Yeah, right" and hang up. I seem to recall they eventually got a little threatening. Eventually we just stopped answering. Next, they switched to leaving messages where they offered us a fake vacation package in order to get us to pick up or call back.

    About this time, I showed up at work a little early before anyone else was there. There was only one other car in the parking lot, and it was parked far away from the building. It's license plate was, and I swear I'm not making this up, "DIRTBAG". Concerned that this was some repo-man who had figured out where I worked, I drove back home and called the police. This is where things got interesting.

    The police took a report of what happened (threatening phone calls, potentially threatening interaction in real life). They gave me a copy of the report and told me to call the phone company and give them a copy of the report. (Or maybe they automatically sent a copy to the phone company. I forget.) Once that was done, the phone company gave me a phone number to call immediately after I got one of the threatening calls. After 3 or 4 calls from the same company, they could confirm who it was and send the info to the police who would go talk to them.

    In the meantime, the police also ran the plates of my potential stalker and went and had a talk with the owner of the car. Turns out he was a friend of my boss's and had nothing to do with the phone calls. Oops! (Who the fuck gets a license plate with "DIRTBAG" on it? WTF?!) But they also figured out from the calls who was making them, and they stopped after that.

    Now, obviously this won't help for calls coming from overseas, but it might help with more local calls.

    2 votes
  7. tomf
    Link
    Check if your carrier has something called Call Control. It requires everybody that isn't on your whitelist to press a random number between 0 - 9 before they can get through. I've had it enabled...

    Check if your carrier has something called Call Control. It requires everybody that isn't on your whitelist to press a random number between 0 - 9 before they can get through.

    I've had it enabled for a few months and have yet to have a single spam call.

    2 votes