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Communications Spam

VoIP to Fuel Plague of 'Dialing for Dollars'/Spam 396

Posted by timothy
from the this-is-a-discourtesy-call dept.
Ant writes "Broadband Reports says Internet News is exploring how telemarketers world-wide are realizing they can dodge long-distance costs (and U.S. "Do Not Call" restraints) by voice spamming VoIP users. Different from SPIT (spam over internet telephony) because it's not automated, an analyst in the article predicts homes and businesses could see some 150 calls a day from overseas call centers."
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VoIP to Fuel Plague of 'Dialing for Dollars'/Spam

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  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:20PM (#11936708)
    I am surprised that this hasn't happened sooner but I believe it will happen. I wonder what sort of culture shock we will have when our home telephones are rendered useless because they ring non-stop? I am getting just over 400 email spam a day so 100 to 150 phone calls a day (especially at a cost of only a penny or so each according to the article) seems believable. While spam filtering rids me of all but two or three email spam a day in my inbox, is there a technology that will do the same for my home phone. God, this sure will be interesting (and yes, I understand I have employed a bit of hyperbole).
    • by dsginter (104154) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:28PM (#11936830)
      Here's what I don't get:

      There exist many methods for anti-spam authentication [google.com]. Why hasn't someone implemented one of them in an "Email 2.0" style service with the single feature being "not compatible with existing email, including spam"? After the first service opened up for business, there would be more. And more. Until Spam was gone for good.

      We can see that people are getting to the point of ditching it entirely [slashdot.org] so why not move to something that fixes the problem at the expense of backward compatibility? This befuddles me to no end. I'd sign up in a heartbeat and so would everyone email user that I know.

      Can we just FUCK backward compatibility for once? Why is it so damn important?
      • by porcupine8 (816071) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:39PM (#11936960) Journal
        Why hasn't someone implemented one of them in an "Email 2.0" style service with the single feature being "not compatible with existing email, including spam"?

        Why on earth would I (or anyone) use this? The entire point of email is communicating with people. If I got an "email 2.0" address, but nobody who needs to email me has one, what would be the point in me having it? And if it got popular enough that the people I want to communicate with all had it, wouldn't the spammers just get it, too?

        Now, I could maybe understanding coming up with something like this for intra-company communications or something, where a specific list of people would get the new format of email and they could all talk to each other but nobody from the outside could email in. But they'd still need traditional email for any communications outside the company. And what company could do any business these days without emailing (or receiving email from) anyone outside?

        I just can't see any way at all that something like that would work.

        • We could just make clients supporting both and encouraging people to send to our new email 2.0 adress while still receiving email 1.0 messages (and spam). It would all come in the same mailbox and you would not see a difference, exept that when nobody would be e-mailing you at your email 1.0 adress, you could ditch it and say good bye to spam.
        • When I first got my "email 1.0" address, nobody that needed to email me had one. They got them eventually, though -- funny how that worked out :-)
      • After you my dear Alphonse
      • > There exist many methods for anti-spam
        > authentication. Why hasn't someone implemented
        > one of them in an "Email 2.0" style service with
        > the single feature being "not compatible with
        > existing email, including spam"? After the first
        > service opened up for business, there would be
        > more. And more. Until Spam was gone for good.

        because that wouldn't work either.

        idiot windows users would tell their mail software to remember their authentication password, and spammer viruses would be re
      • What good is an E-Mail service that doesn't let you send e-mail to people. Becides, replace it with something else, and you'll just get a different type of spam.
      • there's some systems like that in use.

        now, can I send an email to you in any of those protocols? probably not.

        compability is useful because it makes the whole thing useful and more than an inhouse mailer.
      • Why hasn't someone implemented one of them in an "Email 2.0" style service with the single feature being "not compatible with existing email, including spam"?

        1. These exist already. They're called whitelists.

        2. In addition to blocking spam, they block email from many legitimate sources, such as companies/mailing lists/etc trying to send you email from an address you aren't expecting. We get subscribers all the time who sign up and yet never get on because they have a whitelist service and are too stupid
      • I agree with this post, and I think the replies to it are missing something when they say that backwards compatibility is important. How many email addresses do you have right now? I have about 6, with most of them forwarding to 2 key mailboxes. I do this partly to avoid spam (always give out the email address I don't care about to untrustworthy sources). The point is that I am already doing alot of work to avoid spam.

        If I started using this hypothetical "email 2.0", I would, of course, keep an old "email
      • I was thinking of something similar a while ago, when I was struggling to set up a mail system that was new and improved, and yet worked with the previous configuration the company had.

        What I've decided is that e-mail needs to be simpler. Instead of four different daemons (IMAPd, POP3d, SMTPd, LDAP, and optionally an SQL server) running seven different protocols and standards (SMTP, IMAP, POP3, LDAP, SQL, SASL, SSL, TLS, SQL) that still don't work together because the e-mail clients all suck (with the poss
    • I'm going to recommend something that comes as a shock to most people:

      By now (2005) we all have caller ID, answering machines, call back, etc etc etc.

      Here's a novel idea: If you don't want to pick up the phone, don't.

      On the weekends, when I don't want to be disturbed, I turn the phone ringer off, the answering machine sound down, and ignore the things entirely.

      If it's an important call, the answering machine will get it, and the caller id will grab the number.

      If it's not important, they won't leave a m
    • If someone has to be on the other end of the phone when you answer it, it will be a lot more dificult to get 150 calls a day out to every house. On the other hand, with spam, you just hit "Send" and you're done.

      But I do see this becomming a problem. Maybe there will be a setting you can set to block all calls from IP, rendering the entire technology useless.

      I won't have a problem completely disconnecting my phone if I get 15 calls a day from telemarketers though.
  • Silly Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:20PM (#11936717) Homepage
    What happens if the cost of each almost-continuous call is incremental?

    Say the first 10 VOIP calls are free, and if you make the 11th call within 5 minutes of the 10th call, you pay 1 cent, and if you make your 12th call within 5 minutes of your 11th call, you pay 2 cents, then 4 cents, 8 cents and so on.

    Private callers shouldn't have to pay anything due to the engaging nature of personal calls.

    Businesses will have to register to get exemption from the charges, thus easily identifiable.

    Like spam filters, this won't stop spammers from spamming, but hopefully it's enough to make it less profitable.

    We didn't see email spams coming, but we should definitely do something on VOIP when we have the opportunity.
    • Re:Silly Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blanks (108019) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:26PM (#11936795) Homepage Journal
      Yes this would make it more expensive for the spammers to make the calls, and maybe it will keep some of the companies from following through, but with telemarketing if I remember correctly, the costs could be up to .25 per call (connected call) so anything less this this would be doable.

      Also keep in mind that a way around this would be to have a dozens (hundreds?) of VOIP services, meaning you would just need a system to switch between "lines". And that technology all ready exists.
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:38PM (#11936954)
      We didn't see email spams coming,

      Actually we did. The infamous Green Card Lawyers carpet-bombing Usenet told everybody paying attention that we stop it now, or it will only get worse.

      Problem with politicians is that they don't react to a problem until after it has grown out of control. And they don't listen to the people who do see it coming.

      That's why to this day, CB radio skips clear around the world. They didn't listen to the experts about assigning frequencies. Even now, with spam a problem for everyone, there is little in the way of effective law against it.

  • Better fix this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:20PM (#11936718) Homepage Journal
    "The average enterprise or household could see as much as 150 calls a day from these telemarketers. It has to happen, because it is a market force that takes the market feedback and makes it into a profitable approach."

    Ah, so this is how they are going to use all that dark fiber. :-P

    Seriously though, it would be in the phone companies best interest to figure out how to block this. After the legislation for the do not call list, calls to our home plummeted. And rightly so. If I have to deal with telemarketers calling my home again, I will simply have the phone company disconnect my land line, especially with the prospect of 100-150 calls/day. Most people that really need to get ahold of me immediately can use the cell phone or email/IM me anyway. As for calling people at work, I cannot figure out how businesses will tolerate this. Businesses will be more likely to pressure phone companies to limit this kind of activity as it impacts productivity.

    So, I don't really care how they do it, but from an end users perspective......They can either fix the loopholes and prevent phone spam or they will lose business.

    On another note. Serious question to all the Slashdotters: Has anyone here actually bought ANYTHING from a telemarketer who called you? I have never purchased any good or service solicited over the phone, and I am wondering who it is that actually keeps these knuckleheads in business.

    • Re:Better fix this (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shawn(at)fsu (447153)
      I think one of us is missing the point. I think from what I understand that this will only affect people who use VoIP. Course I could be wrong. If it only effacting poeple like vonage users I don't think the telcos will be doing much to fix this. Thinking further it will be like spam in taht there probably wont be a quick and easy fix.
      • If it only effacting poeple like vonage users I don't think the telcos will be doing much to fix this.

        What makes you think so? Vonage users can call anywhere for free. That's what makes this whole thing feasible and so much like spam in the first place. The only difference is that you have to pay someone to pick up the phone and call, but that can be someone in a third world country at 50 cents an hour.
    • I have never purchased any good or service solicited over the phone, and I am wondering who it is that actually keeps these knuckleheads in business.

      Sad, lonely, and impressionable shut-ins who are so desperate for someone to talk to that they will actually entertain marketers. At first it seems like that would describe slashdotters, but that group can always go to a LUG. I'm talking about elderly and infirm people.

    • Re:Better fix this (Score:5, Informative)

      by blanks (108019) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:28PM (#11936828) Homepage Journal
      To answer your question, most telemarketing is either collections or credit cards, or charities. I have had many friends that have worked in collections and charities and you wouldnt belive the amount of positive sales they would get.
    • Has anyone here actually bought ANYTHING from a telemarketer who called you? I have never purchased any good or service solicited over the phone
      Actually, yes, you did. Don't believe me? Go back and check your credit card bill.

      Even if 99.9% of people they cold-called call back and demand that the charges get removed, enough people won't call back. Do the math and you'll find this is highly profitable.
      • Re:zerg (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BWJones (18351) *
        Actually, yes, you did. Don't believe me? Go back and check your credit card bill.

        Actually, no I did not and all my credit card bills are scrutinized carefully. If anybody charges anything to my credit card that is not authorized, they are committing fraud and will be prosecuted as such. I don't know about your credit card companies, but mine have been very good about this. Any purchases that fall outside my normal purchase pattern are flagged and my credit card company calls me to ensure that they are
    • Re:Better fix this (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:42PM (#11936995)
      Actually, the phone company would want to encourage it. Phone companies hate VoIP and would love to see it die.

      However, I can't see this becoming a problem. VoIP traffic is very easy to block. If you get a telemarketer, block them. It's not like they can change their internet provider every other day, and VoIP traffic, being two-way, is rather difficult to proxy through a hijacked machine (unlike email). And it's rather difficult to move a call center to another country.
  • Vroom! (Score:5, Funny)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <{moc.oohay} {ta} {notrab_gerg}> on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:20PM (#11936721) Homepage Journal
    Gentlemen, start up your whitelists!
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:21PM (#11936733)
    You mean U.S. laws don't apply everywhere? We should get that law changed!
    • I think could still be prosecuted if a US company is paying an overseas company to do this.

      I think this is a dirty tactic. As it is, I don't answer calls which the caller ID is blocked or otherwise not visible to me.

  • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#11936736) Homepage
    Russia, China, India... Who'd have thought these would be new sources of spam?! I routinely block these domains/net blocks from sending email into our networks (along with a few of the other well known spam sludge pits), so would it really be that difficult to firewall out all VOIP traffic from these places too? Maybe if enough people just cut them off they'd change their attitudes to providing havens for (mostly) American spam "companies".

    In fact, I'd imagine these call centres would be easier to firewall off the 'net than spammers, as it would be harder to switch net blocks once a blackhole service was set up to list the offending address ranges.
  • Call Blocking? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ironsides (739422) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#11936737) Homepage Journal
    So how long until someone hunts down those IPs and offers up a list for call blocking of them? Also, how long until someone writes a program that will DDoS of some form or another those same call centers or something similar that will harass the call centers?
  • Not automated. Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#11936747) Homepage Journal
    So, when one of these turkeys calls me, I can keep them on the line until I traceroute where his call is coming from, then go after him and his ISP with any number of legal charges as well as possible DDoSs.

    Yes, that sounds like a GREAT way to make money.
    • by GeckoX (259575) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:39PM (#11936970)
      Yeah, cause grandma jean has a whole trove of zombie machines out there just waiting to DDoS the first sucker that dares to spam her VOIP phone.

      Common knowledge tells us that Telemarketing in general should not be a viable business. And yet, it is isn't it?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:08PM (#11937298)
      Yeah, I got a spam that I went through the same spiel with. Checked the headers, did some dns lookups, etc. etc. Finally I found the responsible ISP.

      Problem was, when I sent my subpoena to Novosibirsk all I got back was a legal notice saying, and I quote...

      "In Soviet Russia, jurisdiction limits YOU."
  • by garcia (6573) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#11936748) Homepage
    And with VoIP it would be quite easy to enable an easy to update whitelist for inbound calls. People could use something like the various spam blocking sites (i.e. Spamhaus) that would put and end to that crap.

    There are so many possibilities for controlling this crap that I don't even want to go into it. Personally? I would use my addressbook (LDAP?) as the whitelist. Anyone else would get a message to find another way to contact me to be added to the whitelist, to enter the passcode to get through, or they be routed to /dev/null.

    Anyone showing up as "UNKNOWN", "UNAVAILABLE", or originating numbers coming from outside the country would automatically be re-routed to /dev/null. I would sort of expect these options to be built into the software and easily enabled by end users as that would make the most sense.

    Yeah, it could cause you to lose some callers. How many times do people call you that you don't know and that you actually want to hear from? I'll take the 1 caller a year that doesn't know the passcode and can't find another way to contact me.

    YMMV.
    • Yeah, it could cause you to lose some callers. How many times do people call you that you don't know and that you actually want to hear from?

      Well, if you own a business where you sell a product or service, you hope it happens pretty dang often!
    • Anyone else would get a message to find another way to contact me to be added to the whitelist, to enter the passcode to get through, or they be routed to /dev/null.

      Anyone showing up as "UNKNOWN", "UNAVAILABLE", or originating numbers coming from outside the country would automatically be re-routed to /dev/null. I would sort of expect these options to be built into the software and easily enabled by end users as that would make the most sense.


      This is already available and has been for years. It's called
  • Culture shock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#11936751)
    > I wonder what sort of culture shock we will have when our home telephones are rendered useless because they ring non-stop?

    It's already starting.

    Ignoring people who have abandoned land-line phones for wireless, most of my friends are in the "phone by appointment only" mode.

    If you want to talk to me on a land line, email (or IM) me first and tell me when you'll call. Otherwise, the damn thing stays unplugged, and/or with the ringer off. If I ain't expecting someone's call, it ain't getting answered.

    • Re:Culture shock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by panaceaa (205396) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:40PM (#11936983) Homepage Journal
      Maybe this works for you, but in my life things don't always go as planned. If my girlfriend is in an emergency situation (and it has happened), she contacts me by phone. Because it is an emergency, it may be from a phone number I do not recognize. She will likely not have access to email or IM before calling me. So a random call comes in from a random number... and guess what? I have to answer it because I care about her and it might be her. Until other less-obtrusive technologies like IM are ubiquitous and can be used in emergencies, this cannot change for me.

      VOIP spam is a really scary and almost unavoidable future. To combat it, I only give out my cell phone to people I know. I always give businesses my home or work number. But if it starts to be a problem, I bet a lot of the profiling techniques already used for filtering email will start happening on phone networks. And thankfully, I have never heard of a VOIP open relay, so we'll have a better chance at stopping the problem at its source.
      • Re:Culture shock (Score:3, Interesting)

        by b0bby (201198)
        Isn't that what an answering machine is for? You don't recognize the caller id, you let them talk to the machine. If it's important, then you pick up. Otherwise, delete.
        • Re:Culture shock (Score:3, Interesting)

          by panaceaa (205396)
          You make a great point. But I've found that generally in a big emergency (like an injury car crash) people don't leave messages at first. Though in more common minor emergencies (like being locked out) people generally do. So while most of the time waiting for a voice mail will work just fine, sometimes it won't.

          I haven't thought about the way I handle these things before now. But now that I am thinking about it, I recall that:

          - I'll answer random calls if I don't know specifically where my girlfriend
        • no (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amyhughes (569088) *
          If you hear the phone ring and walk to it to check the caller ID, the damage is already done: you've been interrupted. Picking up the phone to dispatch some telemarketer is actually the fun part.
      • your solution: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bani (467531)
        pbx with PIN number. anyone who doesnt enter the PIN gets silently dumped to voicemail -- your phone never rings. the PIN gets them to immediately ring through, bypassing voicemail.

        simple. elegant. failsafe.

        you're welcome.
        • Re:your solution: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          pbx with PIN number. anyone who doesnt enter the PIN gets silently dumped to voicemail -- your phone never rings. the PIN gets them to immediately ring through, bypassing voicemail.

          simple. elegant. failsafe.

          No. It's fail - dangerous .

          What if the call had been from my father-in-laws hospice nurse, and she couldn't find the PIN? Or the nurse at his doctors office, (whose phone# field in their database almost certainly doesn't have a way to handle this)? I.E., at least twice in the last year a phone call

  • I was wondering when people would start talking about this. Its just another form of communication that people will use to exploit and take advantage of others.

    Yes VOIP is good, so was the telephone until people realized their was money involved.

    The only way I can see being able to slow down the title wave that is going to hit is for the companies that are supplying VOIP to listen to customers when they call and complain about phone numbers spamming them..... But again, we all know how well that works wit
  • Herm wait . . . (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:23PM (#11936756) Journal
    so the DNCL only covers POTS Spam? IMO my number is in there, so no matter where they're coming from or through, be it POTS or VoiP they can't call me, further more theres'a nice tidbit on that DNCL site:

    33. Are telemarketing calls from overseas covered?


    Yes. Any telemarketers calling U.S. consumers are covered, regardless of where they are calling from. If a company within the U.S. solicits sales through an overseas professional telemarketer, that U.S. company may be liable for any violations by the telemarketer. The FTC can initiate enforcement actions against such companies.
  • recieving wierd calls on my Skype account.

  • and not a single telemarketer or sales call.

    Infact i get more on my cell phone than i do on my VoIP.

  • I hunch that if you get really huge volumes of VoIP calls, people will boycott the spamming companies and thereby the feedback will make the whole system self throtling.

    VoIP spamming will be far more intrusive than email spamming, since a phone call *demands* an action in real time. This will make it far more annoying.

    • Wrong. A phone call only requests an action in real time.

      You can turn the ringer off. It's not illegal, immoral, or even fattening. You also can listen to it ring and still choose not to answer it (we sometimes do this during meals - and we should do it more).

      Realizing that you don't have to answer the phone every time it rings can be very freeing...

  • New MaBell filter (Score:3, Informative)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:27PM (#11936810) Journal
    You can automatically block all VoIP call from your phone for just $1. For $5.99 you can add a whitelist. Or you can just tell all your friends to get a MaBell line and save that $5.99! Sounds like a win-win for the Bells!

    • You can automatically block all VoIP call from your phone for just $1.

      It ought to be free. Even better, they ought to pay you to allow them to block VoIP. After all, you've just asked them to kill their only real competition!

    • Re:New MaBell filter (Score:3, Informative)

      by edudspg (784007)

      Anyone that runs a voip system can always have the system route UNKNOWN or ANONYMOUS callers to a computer based screening tool. One bored gent wrote an elaborate voice-mail maze for telemarketers to wander into.

      Telemarketer Torture [voip-info.org]

      So far the only prank SIP call I have received was one from a buddy that was testing his SIP knowledge and wanted to see if he could really make my phone ring.

  • re-routing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:27PM (#11936812) Journal
    until I start re-routing their calls to each other. Think of it, a simple firewall that sits on your network that re-routs overseas calls to each other. Just keep a list of numbers and add new ones as they come in, completely automated...get a couple thousand Voice over IP users to do this and viola, problem solved. Old fashioned ping of death, DOS attacks. Perfectly legitimate because I am just returning their calls right???
  • (I didn't RTFA disclaimer) You would need to have these call centers staffed, and fed by a few DS3 links. Even supposing that you staffed this call center with the little kids that make the soccer balls, your still talking some heavy costs. You need sales to pay your bills. Most big corporations have been using VoIP in their call centers for years now, but to compare the budget of Compaq's Tech Support division with some sales based company I don't see it happening. VoIP calls use a lot of upstream.

    Scena

  • This is just more proof that the Internet is the worst thing that could have ever happened to our civilization. No, really. It'll all end in tears and heartbreak.
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:32PM (#11936879) Journal
    We're going to need some basic trespassing legislation here: in brief, a recognition that my phone is my property and that your freedom of commercial speech does not extend to the use of my property to carry your speech at my costs.

    However, we're also going to need some software tools. A lot of sites, my own workplace included, are rolling out VoIP systems. Some of these are COTS systems of various levels of quality. Others (like us) are using open systems like Asterisk PBX and SIP Express Router (SER). Currently, as far as I have seen neither the proprietary nor the open tools have what it takes regarding abuse rejection:

    • Dictionary attack rejection. Any caller who makes a vast number of wrong numbers in a day is just trying to guess numbers, and should be rejected.
    • Call rate limiting. A single caller IP address should not be able to make a vast number of simultaneous or near-simultaneous inbound calls.
    • Site-local blocklisting. One good way of telling if an IP address is going to spam me is if it has spammed the guy the next office over. The VoIP PBX is a good place to aggregate abuse information. Asterisk has the beginnings of a blocklist system, but it's not quite there yet.
    • Distributed blocklisting. DNSBLs have worked very well in the email world, where a single highly reliable list such as Spamhaus SBL-XBL [spamhaus.org] can deflect over 50% of spam. We will need this ability in VoIP.
    • Abuse reporting. If I'm getting VoIP abuse from your site, I need a way to report it to you or your ISP. Likewise, VoIP sites that want to be reputable should offer call recipients a way of reporting harassment, spamming, and other sorts of abuse.
    • A well-designed protocol with flexible user-defined safeguards will trump legislation any day in my book.

      Lord knows that last thing I want is another bipartisan effort to ream me up one end and down the other. Because CAN-SPAM was so, you know, USEFUL.

  • The first step is a whitelist for people who get through immediately. Everyone else to voice mail after being required to punch back in a numeric code given verbally to dispense with automated calls altogether.

    Next, a numeric code to let whitelist people through when not calling from a whitelisted telephone number.

    Third, ASAP simple voice recognition to replace typing in a code for whitelisted callers. (E.g. "Hi, it's Mom...").

    Someday, absolute identification of the person making the call so that Ca

  • It seems like there is a whole lot of potential for messing with VOIP spammers' minds, moreso than over a telephone or through email.

    Push the incoming stream quietly into the background while you go on computing, no problem. Tie the spammer up as long as they'll let themselves get tied up. No skin off your nose.

    For example, the VOIP software could have a set of control plugins that could be used to redirect the spammer's voice back at them (WILL YOU STOP REPEATING ME?), or direct your outgoing voice str
  • asterisk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clymere (605769) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:37PM (#11936947) Homepage
    my understanding is that its not hard to avoid such thigs if yo're running asterisk. The people i know runnign it use some sort of "telemarketer hell" function that leads these people through multiple layers of prompts, where they then leave a message which is promptly deleted.

    I want to say its as simple as detecting whether they are using a blocked number. None of these people are going to offer up their number right? What are the legal issues around spoofing? I know this is another capability asterisk has, but I would think there would some issues with a telemarketer using this to outright lie about where they are calling from...of course, would be hard to catch them too.

  • ...I will start a white list. And I will only accept phone calls from people on my white list. I meet you, you give me your phone number, and I make sure I can recieve your calls when I get home.

    Spammers will find their way around that too, I have no doubts. I can already change my outgoing callerid #, so i don't see why they can't either.
  • by hoggoth (414195) on Monday March 14, 2005 @05:41PM (#11936992) Journal
    "Hi this is John. I am screening my calls. Please leave a voicemail and I will call you back."
    "Hi John, this is Pete. You just tried to call me, and left me voicemail about my attempted call a few minutes ago. Please call me back."
  • Firewalls will be your friend to stop this sort of thing. The backlash will be harsher too- people are more likely to get irked at phone calls than emails; spam is something that you can take care of at your leisure. A phone ringing at 3 AM, not so much.
    • The article is talking about marketting spam launched using VOIP on the caller side. The receiver will get the call on any old telephone hook-up IE POTS or VOIP.

      A firewall won't do a thing to protect you. A caller ID based black list of challenge/response system could though.
  • I can see a big market for automated RBL (Real-time Black Lists) for phone numbers caught spamming. Also someone with a little turnkey Astreisk based computer that has a "junk" voicemail box, recognized calls ring through, everything else silently gets sent to the junk box.

    I think it would be great if we had little boxes at home that we could flag messages as SPAM, that would update a RBL. And also check the CallerID against an RBL before answering.

    We have fairly mature methods for identifying spam. Ob
  • pining for POTS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jpellino (202698) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:10PM (#11937331)
    *sigh*
    Cordless was supposed to be better.
    - Yes, because I'm not tethered to a wall in my house.
    - No, because the neighbors can eavesdrop.
    Cell was supposed to be better,
    - Yes, in that I'm not tethered to my house.
    - No, in that it still doesn't work as well or as often as my landline.
    VOIP was supposed to be better
    - Yes because it's cheaper / no old stakeholders
    - No because it's not protected like my landline,
    - No because this new stuff can happen,
    - Maybe since we're not sure is it an intermediate step or is this "it"

    And how many times have we had to ask THAT question... CDs were "it". DVDs were "it". Cable was the last pipe we'd ever need. No make that IP over Powerlines. Scrap that - wireless broadband! This just in - WiFi Mesh. 802.11 A - I mean B... er, no, um... G! Oops - N!

    And I thought they were making up that stuff in the Matrix movies about only trusting physical landlines...
  • Sad, But True. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Threatis (847906) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <sitaerhT>> on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:22PM (#11937492) Homepage
    As someone who worked as a Telemarketer for about a year, i can tell you that this will happen. the company that I recently worked for was putting together a "voIP team" to tackle all the new tech popping up around it. Sad that this is the world we live in now, where people feel the only way to sell a product is to market it directy to someone over something as personal as a Telephone.
  • 150 calls per day (Score:3, Informative)

    by NoGuffCheck (746638) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:23PM (#11937520)
    I dont think this will ever happen, Ive been in telemarketing for 5 years and the hardest sells are always the customers who receive more cold calls a day from other telemarketing companies. Now if everyone was getting 150 calls per day I dont care what the call costs are, paying my wage is too expensive for my boss if im never going to make a sale.
  • by telemonster (605238) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:28PM (#11937584) Homepage
    No, not the MacGyver episode. Spam email is supposidly very ineffective. Everyone receives thousands of spam mails, but who actually does business with the company? The return rates are supposidly very bad, perhaps 5 people per million messages sent.

    Spam mail is sent with a computer, in bulk, really fast.

    One saving grace is that the telemarketers will generally use peopl (yes, there are some IVR calls, but the majority are humans). So hopefully the rate of return on the bulk number of calls needed to get a sale will make this ineffective.

    I was telling people this before... "VoIP and other cheap unregulated phone service is great... but it will degrade into a state like email flooded with garbage"

    Oh, and for fun, next time a charity calls... ask what percentage goes to the organization they are representing. Fun game.
  • VoIP Users Only? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fo0 (724278) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:42PM (#11937738)
    The Thread suggests that this will be a problem for VoIP users only; but it seems to me that the overseas callcenters will call whoever they want regardless of what type of carrier the call-recepient uses. I don't think it is less expensive for them to call another VoIP line than it is for them to call a land-line or cell phone, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Another thing... Is there a way that VoIP numbers are indexed or listed? Is there such thing as a listed or unlisted VoIP line?
  • clarification? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drew (2081) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:57PM (#11937906) Homepage
    ok, so the slashdot summary makes it sound like only people who have VOIP service would have to worry about this, but as far as I can tell from reading the article, the problem is that if the spammers get VOIP service, it makes it cost effective for them to spam anyone, so once this catches on, we would all be at risk, right? i don't see anything in tfa about whether the spamee has to have VOIP for this to be a problem. or am i misreading something?
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:32PM (#11938897) Homepage Journal
    1 - receive spam ( regardless of what format )
    2 - find responsible parties
    3 - kill them
    4 - repeat until spam stops.
  • by jafac (1449) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:26PM (#11939378) Homepage
    The problem with the situation is;
    too many people put up with it. too many people tolerate it. Companies would not engage in spam, if they did not believe it was profitable.

    If the spam armageddon described in this article *does* come (and I'm feverishly praying it will) - then a critical mass of people will finally get fed up and do something about it.

    Not something ineffective like the national do not call list, or the can-spam act.

    Something effective.

    Blood will flow.

    It will be glorious.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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