Social Engineering a Telemarketer

Okay, this is funny.

Posted on August 8, 2014 at 7:22 AM • 57 Comments


Larry SeltzerAugust 8, 2014 8:11 AM

Yeah, it's funny. The telemarketer companies are reprehensible, but I always feel sorry for the poor schnook making the call. They have a truly awful job.

WayneAugust 8, 2014 8:14 AM

Funny but you got someone trying to probably squeak by a living or making money for school. I'll be an asshole to a telemarketer but only if by their actions they push me down that road. I asked to be removed from their calling list.

uh, MikeAugust 8, 2014 8:22 AM

I once was in a social setting with a young person who was telemarketing for their first job. Sadly, they were taking it personally. I withheld my realism.

Scott SlaterAugust 8, 2014 8:23 AM

It may be funny in abstract, but that's a real person on the other end of that line. A person that might actually have lost their job over this.

Our clever friend deliberately bypassed the "don't bother me again" option in order to amuse himself at someone else's expense. It's not really something to be lauded. It's just petty and self-centered.

SasparillaAugust 8, 2014 8:33 AM

Scott Slater: "It's not really something to be lauded. It's just petty and self-centered."

You're totally right, but I loved it anyways.

WinterAugust 8, 2014 8:36 AM

I get security calls from "Microsoft" telling me my computer is in danger. I would love them to get this treatment. Sadly, I cannot pull such a thing off and their English is not up to it.

Btw, these calls are from India. I know, because I took one of them who was a tier up for a ride and he was so angry when he found out I was wasting his time that he threatened to kill me if I ever would go to his city (I forgot which one).

I think the best revenge is simply to go along and waste as much of their time as possible.

Chris RhodesAugust 8, 2014 8:40 AM

If all it cost the telemarketer was an awful, dead-end job to teach him not to fall victim to social engineering attempts in the future, he can consider himself lucky.

MorthawtAugust 8, 2014 8:51 AM

This was so hilarious to me. That being said, surely this is not legal? Didn't he fraudulently cripple one of the companies phones thus negatively impacting their business?

BJPAugust 8, 2014 8:57 AM

@Scott Slater
Petty and self-centered, like every piece of human garbage operating phones for these scammers. Hope they did lose their "job".

JRAugust 8, 2014 9:07 AM

haha. I got the microsoft security call too.

It ended up with him telling me to f@*k myself. all i did was ask him "which of my 4 PC's has the problem? you must have the serial numbers, if you know which version of windows i'm running and have my phone number. is it the laptop?"

several times....
that was my favorite telemarketer call. ever.

barfaAugust 8, 2014 9:22 AM

@ BJP • August 8, 2014 8:57 AM
"@Scott Slater
Petty and self-centered, like every piece of human garbage operating phones for these scammers. Hope they did lose their "job"."

Wow, you really are disconnected from reality. For many persons, telemarketing is the job that they can easily get. I have several friends who have worked telemarketing, and they may deeply resent the company they work for, but they also have to pay rent and food, for themselves and often for a kid, sibling, spouse or parent. To call struggling working poor "petty and self-centered, [...] piece of human garbage" is pretty offensive, to the extent that one might wonder if you're simply trolling for lol's or if you actually think that everyone who is not you or your friends are a lower class of beeing?

BJPAugust 8, 2014 9:37 AM

I have more respect for drug dealers and prostitutes who provide a product or service to individuals who desire it than I do human garbage that prey on the elderly or foolish by way of telemarketing.

That you presume that this is an indictment by me of the "struggling working poor" says more about you than me.

WayneAugust 8, 2014 9:46 AM

Telemarketers come in many strips, some may be trying to sell a legit product or some are just straight out attempting to scam such as the "Microsoft Security" callers. First I can be polite too, the second I consider fair game for amusement.

Yeah, not a fan of telemarketers but I've know people that worked for such places as that was the only work they could find at the time. Guess many here would rather they go on public assistance instead?

TIMAugust 8, 2014 10:01 AM

It's just two weeks ago that a woman with nice voice called me to offer new options for something about dental health.

If she would have called me from my health insurance company this would be understandable, but she was from my phone company the smartphone contract was made with. I gave her a few seconds and interrupted her with the question "Excuse me, but is there something you will say about cheaper phone calls or something else about my phone contract oder just about dental health?". She only wanted to talk about these dental options, so I closed the call friendly.

The positive part of this, my teeth are well, so I can be sure there was no profiling on the customers database.

Name (required)August 8, 2014 10:04 AM

Why should always hunt 'em down?

Somewhere on YouTube is a sound-only of a guy trolling a telemarketer by convincing him he's made a call to the middle of a murder crime scene. And has rendered himself the prime suspect by way of phoning at just the exact time he was expected to. The 'police ociffer' proceeds to tell him that he is suspected as being the gay lover and killer of the deceased. He is warned that he will be immediately arrested if he hangs up or does not answer questions forthrightly.

It's VERY funny. Funnier than that other thing, except I don't know how to find it anymore. Tho I looked. So just laugh at my description.

Then I looked again.

OtterAugust 8, 2014 10:10 AM

Seems that in Wayne's world people have to choose between being parasites annoying people pushing fraudulent marketing schemes, and being parasites on public assistance. There is something wrong with Wayne's world. I think also there is something wrong with Wayne's comfort in it.

barfaAugust 8, 2014 10:19 AM


"I have more respect for drug dealers and prostitutes who provide a product or service to individuals who desire it than I do human garbage that prey on the elderly or foolish by way of telemarketing.

That you presume that this is an indictment by me of the "struggling working poor" says more about you than me."

If you want to find the "human garbage" behind telemarketing, you have to look deeper. Hint: it is not "petty and self-centered human garbage" with a headset, nor is it a secret cabal of costumed evil persons. It is on a system level, not an individual human level.

No one wants the elderly or the foolish to be preyed upon, but that is not a function of the people working at the telemarketing centers, rather a deeper issue with how the economics in the society is set up. Also, laws could be passed that made telemarketing nigh impossible, if government wanted that. Since it is legal and profitable, market economy forces says it will happen. You don't like it, I don't like it. But the solution is not slagging on the people manning the call centres, simply because that won't make telemarketing go away. There will always be people that can't get another job.

Nick PAugust 8, 2014 10:37 AM

@ barfa

I'll add that not many Americans wrote their Congressmen or cast votes based on whether the problem should go away. Not just that one, but bogus and predatory advertising in general. Instead, they tolerate certain weak regulations full of loopholes and a quite evil status quo. Many benefit from the status quo as well in the form of ad-driven, free services. They also vote for our current economic and ethical system called capitalism: everyone act as selfishly as they can for financial gain, hoping market forces will make things work out. (Whatever that means...)

Against this backdrop, the telemarketers going for easy money for their bosses and themselves are acting wisely. The solution to this and many such problems is to change the system from incentivizing total, destructive selfishness to incentivizing constructive, utilitarian selfishness. The system should also effectively penalize harmful activities. Far as they go, I'm much more worried about Wall St's bubbles, high-frequency trading, etc. Their (still legal) activities have repeatedly almost taken down the system for profit of a few.

And that sentence sums up the problem: a system that condones pervasive harm or risk for the profit of a few.

Alan KaminskyAugust 8, 2014 10:39 AM

As soon as I receive a piece of junk mail (paper or electronic), I throw it in the trash.

As soon as I receive a junk telephone call, I do the equivalent: I hang up. No listening to the spiel, no requesting not to be called, no social engineering, I just hang up.

My time's not wasted. Their time's not wasted. Their job is intact (which should mollify some of the commenters here). Everyone's happy.

Have a nice day.

Nick PAugust 8, 2014 10:50 AM

@ Otter, Wayne

"Waynes world?" Try the real world. In the real world, there's a finite number of jobs and resources. There might be few IT, trade, etc jobs in the person's location. Degree's, experience, skills, etc might be required for all the good jobs that aren't minimum wage. Sales is the one kind of job present everywhere that doesn't require a degree, always has openings, and gives a chance to earn above average (or high) wages. Medium might be store, door to door, mail, phone or any other medium. Most people don't wake up one day saying "I want to be a telemarketer." They try to get a bunch of jobs, the telemarketing is the one they get, and they go through a day of misery to get a pay check. Might be trying to get another job, degree or whatever on the side.

That said, there *are* people who straight up choose the field for the money. There's a local firm here whose people make $50-100k a year on what I think is a waste of money, albeit harmless. They drive nice cars, throw nice parties on company's expense, and a few have nice families who live well thanks to the income. Far as I can tell, though, this kind of company is the exception to the rule with most having a small percentage of very talented salespeople.

@ Alan Kaminsky

Nice strategy. Same thing I do except I'm sometimes say "I'm not interested. Have a good day." (Click) That way they know it wasn't a phone line error and don't retry the call.

BJPAugust 8, 2014 10:59 AM

I simply don't answer the phone. My spite does not come from time telemarketers have made me waste, as they don't waste any of my time. They've rendered the telephone useless for me, but so be it. My spite comes from those they exploit.

And yes, given the choice between "live like a leech exploiting the unsophisticated" or "take public assistance", taking public assistance results in the fewest innocents harmed.

@barfa - "The system made me do it"? Seriously?

MartinAugust 8, 2014 11:51 AM

I've received several calls from the Windows Service Center. The persons calling have a middle-eastern Indian accent, but speak fairly good English. On the last call the service center representative quickly and forcibly insisted I go in front of my computer and follow his instructions exactly. I replied, "OK, I will hang-up now and immediately go in front of my computer and wait for your instructions."

It was a nice day for me and hopefully for him as well.

AnuraAugust 8, 2014 12:00 PM

I have designed (although not implemented or published - maybe I should finally sit down and implement it this weekend) a protocol with the intent of allowing two parties to communicate without anyone being able to determine who is conctacting who (and without having to attempt to decrypt every message that gets sent to everyone as in bitmessage) - that it doesn't allow unsolicited communication may be considered a limitation, I consider it a bonus.

Cold-call telemarketing was the beginning of modern intrusive advertising, and I do not have respect for it. Just like people working for spammers or adware companies, I don't really have much sympathy for those who would lose their jobs doing it.

AnoniAugust 8, 2014 12:43 PM

I get these calls fairly regularly too. Sometimes as often as 5 or 6 times an hour. (As though I have nothing better to do than to run to the phone every couple of minutes all day long.)

About 98% of them are rachel from cardholder services. The idea is that if I have a large credit balance I can't pay off, they'll call my credit card company (which I could do) and negotiate a slightly lower fee (that I still can't pay off) and hit me for a huge fee of their own (that I'll never pay off) for their questionable "service". They are the technological equivalent of the bum who sprays dirty water on your windshield, smears it with a dirty rag, and demands payment for his service.

Their behavior is absolutely despicable. When I can't learn that my kid broke his arm at school because I'm getting dozens of these scammers calling each day, well, no I have no respect for them. They want to steal for a living, robbing decent folks who are struggling to get buy, then they deserve everything they get and worse!

As for the "Microsoft" guys... Hang up on them and they just keep calling back and back and back all day long. But string them along for 15 or 20 minutes, and then tell them you're running Linux, and, after they're done swearing at you in at least 3 different languages, they'll put you on their own internal never-call-this-person-again list.

Besides, it's fun!

IsaacAugust 8, 2014 3:00 PM

Welfare is (roughly) zero-sum for society as a whole: we move resources from one person to another, but don't create or destroy anything of value. (Though there are some overhead costs, of course).

Telemarketing is negative-sum for society as a whole: it moves resources from the small percentage of people who actually bite to the telemarketers' employers, and it ALSO wastes the time of a large number of disinterested people and places extra load on our communication networks.

So, yes, I'd rather have people on welfare than working as telemarketers. It would be even better if they did some sort of productive work, like collecting garbage or drawing webcomics, but if they just sit around waiting for welfare, I think that is probably less damaging to society than if they work as telemarketers.

I don't think the telemarketers have much room to complain about bad treatment, either. If you accept a paycheck to act as the public face of a jerk, you are knowingly signing up to catch flak for that jerk's behavior; that is something that any reasonable person would have factored in before deciding the job was worth taking. Once you have accepted a job as some villain's human shield, you don't get to complain to the villain's enemies if you get hit by bullets.

Even if you were an actual slave with literally no options other than telemarketing or painful death, I think the moral blame for any bad treatment you receive lies with the slavemaster, not the people who yell at you for being on the other line when a machine calls them in the middle of dinner. The telemarketer's employer is the one provoking the confrontation. The people yelling at you are, at worst, indifferent to the fact that their enemy has taken a hostage.

And yes, it'd be great if we could create a system where telemarketing is not financially incentivized. But the fact that we haven't done that yet doesn't absolve anyone for deliberately abusing the loopholes in the current system.

AnuraAugust 8, 2014 3:20 PM


Welfare is not zero sum. Poverty contributes to crime, crime is a negative drain on our economy and society as a hole, so welfare is a directly positive effect. On top of that, the economic effects are based on who you are taking the money from. Our economy has literally been starved of demand, so any money that you take from someone who isn't going to spend it and give it to someone who is you grow the economy. If you are using deficit spending, you are taking from the people who are the least likely to do something beneficial with their money.

In 2010, Mark Zandi produced estimates on the fiscal multipliers, that is dollar of economic growth for each dollar of tax cuts or spending increase, available here:

Some highlights:

Extend Alternative Minimum Tax Patch 0.48
Make Bush Income Tax Cuts Permanent 0.29
Make Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts Permanent 0.37
Cut Corporate Tax Rate 0.30

That menas taking money from the wealthy today costs less than 50 cents for every dollar in revenue. On the other hand...

Extend Unemployment Insurance Benefits 1.64
Temporarily Increase Food Stamps 1.73

Giving money to people they don't have it results in more than $1.50 for each dollar lost. So if we had deficit neutral tax increases on the wealthy + spending increases on the poor, we should see around or over $1 of growth for every dollar spent because we would increase the demand for goods and services and promote growth. Even if we did 2:1 tax increases for the rich to anti-poverty programs, we would still see positive economic growth.

Anyway, I can probably write significantly more on the subject, but it's off-topic.

boo to telemarketersAugust 8, 2014 4:44 PM

> Guess many here would rather they go on public assistance instead?

I would certainly rather they do that.

They would be far less of an annoyance that way, getting money just for being unemployed (which after all happens to perfectly nice good people in real life sometimes) instead of getting money for actively continually irritating people and helping make some rich spammers richer.

SteveAugust 8, 2014 8:10 PM

Funny, yes, until you realize that some poor schnook probably lost his job and is now facing the prospect of being out of work for an extended period of time in a depressed job economy.

My personal approach to telemarketers is just not to answer the phone unless it's someone In know on the caller ID and let it go to voice mail. Generally, the robocalling software detects an automatic answering system and drops the call.

Everybody's happy.

jdgaltAugust 8, 2014 8:54 PM

Telemarketing is not an honorable job. I can't sympathize with those who "have to do it for a living" unless they are willing to change sides and rat out their bosses.

The Internet is replacing home phones for a lot of people largely because all the phone companies insist on carrying this supposedly legitimate traffic for profit instead of stamping it out. If there are any exceptions out there, I'd like to hear from one and jump ship.

SteveAugust 8, 2014 9:04 PM

@jdgalt: Telemarketing is just as honorable a job as cleaning restrooms, stocking shelves, picking product in an sweatshop, tending crops in a field, or any one of a number of different dirty jobs. Not every telemarketer is a scam artist (even though, admittedly, a lot of them may be working for them) and I find it hard to look down at my nose on anyone who is trying to put bread on the table in this economy.

You may not have noticed if you're in the high tech field, as I expect most of the readers of this blog are, but the economy, she stinks, for a lot of folks out there. The economy, for whatever reason, is not producing a lot of jobs, even though "productivity" and profits are rising.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be a Bruce Schneier, born with a talent for cryptography and math. Even fewer are born lucky enough to exploit their native intelligence in what many here believe to be "honorable" work.

Check your privilege.

ThothAugust 9, 2014 12:06 AM

Lesson learnt at the end of the day, never simply press buttons on one's computers or phones just because someone asked for that (and you are unable to identify their identity).

This leads me to think up of an attack vector which maybe abit more complex. Intercept a legitimate call or direct someone to a call in some ways and via voice automation or manual instruction ask them to key in your exploits (visit webpages, run apps or commandsm wipe their phones ...etc...). I believe such a trick already existed but the ease of tricking gullible innocent non-tech savy minds are just bewildering and dangerous.

Social engineering is what allowed Snowden to have access to his stash of documents... not some technical glitch.

James SutherlandAugust 9, 2014 3:52 AM

@Steve: "Telemarketing is just as honorable a job as cleaning restrooms"

Maybe where you are; here in the UK, they are breaking the law. The government is very reluctant to make any effort to enforce the law, but has finally levied six figure fines on two of the worst offenders in the last year, with another dozen companies under investigation. No, I don't care that they are breaking the law to get money: like any spammer, they and their enabling companies should be stamped out aggressively. Maybe once the companies involved started getting prison time for the directors, they'll stop.

Needless to say, they almost invariably conceal their identity (one reason I think withholding caller ID should be prohibited, not mandated as a free "feature"), making it much more difficult to catch the offenders.

I always liked the story of the guy who responded enthusiastically to one such spammer, getting them to send a salesdrone round in person to measure up for the conservatory they were selling. I like to think that as the salesdrone climbed the stairs to their apartment, he started to reconsider illegal phonespam as a marketing tactic.

TL;DR? Anything that impairs a spammer's ability to spam others, whether by email or phone, is a good thing as long as it doesn't harm non-spammers in the process.

Jean WAugust 9, 2014 5:14 AM

Having diverted my attention from more important things to catch so many phones rung by cold callers that I now leave most calls to be fielded by auto systems, I miss the wonderful functionality of this great 20th century development; you could have about the same range of interactions with people that you can have on market street and inside your house, but with the tyranny of distance made inconsequential almost immediately, once we developed an etiquette and grammar for the phone.
The phone made joy and sadness so much more immediate for many of us and thus increased our ability to share our humanity.
Even when it was business to business, you had a good sense of interaction with the phone.

But this is where we've ended up with that fantastic instrument?
One socially detached individual using another socially detached individual to gain the pleasure of winning ... what?

It's at the point where the home fixed phone is an intruder, and even a cell phone needs quite a bit of fussing over to keep cold callers at bay.
Whoever has done this to our society is where the anger needs sending, surely?

Wesley ParishAugust 9, 2014 5:46 AM

OT re: public assistance, welfare, whateveryoucallit ...

I realized one day in the nineties that welfare was an indirect subsidy to food distribution companies aka supermarkets and housing aka the property market. (there are other markets where it has such an effect but I haven't thought about them nearly as much.)

It does a rebalancing act with those markets, which would otherwise be topheavy and prone to collapse with shifts and the like.

As it is, the effect of the various deregulations in the US, UK, NZ and other states, has destabilized those markets somewhat. In New Zealand for example, the property market is getting topheavy, with many NZers being unable to afford their first home. That it hasn't fallen over yet is in part due to the presence of the state housing sector and the flow-on effect to the private property sector: if someone hard-done-by is looking for affordable accommodation, a private landlord has to be better, not worse, than the lowest-priced state house. It sets a basement, and makes it difficult for slum landlords and predatory absentee landlords to flourish.

Getting back on topic: I sure you can see how setting a basement on wages and working hours and conditions of work, prevents not only workplace tragedies and the like, it also prevents after-hours harassment by underpaid "salespersons" trying to scrape together their hourly quota. I am sure you would agree with me that the Second American Civil War became with the election of The Gypper aka Ronald Raygun to the US Presidency. And I would hope the Second American Civil War does not suddenly escalate to the use of biological and chemical weapons (as opposed to the "permissive use" of them by companies who just don't care) and nuclear weapons ...

boo to telemarketersAugust 9, 2014 10:10 AM

Steve: "Telemarketing is just as honorable a job as cleaning restrooms, stocking shelves, picking product in an sweatshop, tending crops in a field, or any one of a number of different dirty jobs."

You are apparently confusing "dirty" job and "honorable" job. They are 2 different concepts. Those might all be "dirty" jobs, but spamming is not honorable. It produces nothing of value for others, unlike cleaning restrooms, tending crops, etc.

Spamming (which is all telemarketing is) is a parasitical selfish practice which does nothing good for the world and just wastes the time & energy of its victims. Nothing "honorable" about it.

AnoniAugust 9, 2014 1:13 PM

Do we want to distinguish between telemarketing calls that are merely incredibly annoying such as political calls or donate-to-our-favorite-charity-which-is-us calls verses other telemarketing calls that are clearly fraud/theft/illegal/etc such as rachel from cardholder services or those microsoft computer "you have a virus run our malware" guys?

If you are working for one of those bad guys, and you lose your job over shit like this, PLEASE OUT YOUR BOSS! A lot of folks would like to know who he is and where he lives! Bonus points if you can tell us about any dark alleys nearby. Though personally I'd be happy just to sue him for harassment!

GweihirAugust 9, 2014 6:41 PM

Fortunately, in civilized countries, telemarketing is illegal and does not work on the population anyways, because they know that. There are typically also fines that eradicate all possible profits.

Telemarketers are the enemy. That fighting them does not work in the US is due to no political will to do so. Quite a few countries demonstrate that it is possible, for example Germany. They have, for example, pretty extreme fines _per_ _call_ if a telemarketer falsifies or withholds caller ID. They have pretty extreme fines (but not per call) if a telemarketer does call against what is allowed (must have a business relationship, must be during the week and not in the evening or night, and must not call again if the person called does not want that). For non-EU callers, they have the telcos block their numbers (there is no way to withhold caller id from a telco). In addition, they make complaints easy. That approach works.

SchneieronSecurityFanAugust 10, 2014 2:43 AM

Here's the link to the Federal Trade Commission's Do-Not-Call list:

Just send an email or call the toll free telephone number from the phone that you wish to have put on the list. Then, just enter the number of that phone.

ImNot AdminAugust 10, 2014 3:57 AM

Considering the rather inept security at some telemarketing centers, and there is no way to be sure they are who they say they are, it's probably better you do take them on a joy ride.

When the managers of call centers demand the admin hand over the password so their favourite pet employees can make their own personal internet connections, and the passwords are often crap four letter passwords you could guess without too much brain activity, I would not imagine your personal details are very secure either. Most call centers also use remote admin due to the high turn over of frustrated admins.

Ole JuulAugust 10, 2014 4:30 AM

It sounds like there's several people posting here who have poor phone service such as offered by the average ILEC. You can do much better than that, and if you a getting more than a very few unwanted calls you have only yourself to blame.

I use a system where incoming calls are greeted with a message which says "press 9 to connect". (I can set it to any, or random, digit.) Telephone spammers don't continue when they get a voice message, and automated systems (which is most of them) automatically hang up. Your phone company should have this and many more options available for free for you to configure when you log in to your account. Mine does.

way to blame the victimAugust 10, 2014 5:11 AM

Ole Juul : "if you a getting more than a very few unwanted calls you have only yourself to blame."

Hmm? "Only yourself"? Seriously?

Yeah, it couldn't possibly be that the spammers themselves have any blame...

SteveAugust 10, 2014 5:20 PM

Here's the thing: if you get a call from a telemarketer, just don't answer it. I suspect that virtually all of those reading this have caller ID of some form or another and/or voice mail. The vast majority of telemarketers will automatically drop the call if they get an answering device.

That's the way I deal with them, rather than make the life of some poor schmoe even more miserable than it already is.

I doubt that there are many people who aspire to a career as a telemarketer, sitting in a phone boiler room for eight or more hours a day, being abused by people and victimized by pranksters while under the gun to make a sale, any sale.

This isn't much different than the guy at Comcast whom you may have read about who was just trying to do what he was being paid to do -- retain a customer at virtually all costs because that's company policy. Instead, he gets some clown from AOL (and there's an irony for you, given AOL's business model!) recording the interaction, putting it up on the Internet, and probably costing him his job.

Yes, these people are "spammers," okay. But they're also moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters who are trapped in a system not entirely of their own making and trying to keep their heads above financial water.

These aren't the high paying high tech jobs that I suspect the majority of the readers here have -- they're bottom of the barrel, barely making ends meet drudge work.

So check your privilege and check the caller ID before you pick up and decide to take revenge on some poor schmuck you don't even know.

nonentityAugust 10, 2014 7:22 PM

Here's the thing: if you take a job that requires you to be a scumball to other people, you don't have room to complain if people treat you in kind. You don't get to say "but, it's my *job* to do that" and have people go "oh, that's all right, then".

It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are. If you are allowing yourself be the public face of a company practice that is as hated as telemarketing is, then there are costs to that decision that you get to bear. Your plight may be sad, but you're not exactly taking the time to worry about the circumstances of the people you're calling, either... in fact, you're probably being given incentives to not worry about them.

And the Do Not Call list? Yeah, it doesn't work worth beans. It's too time consuming to make a complaint, and even when there's been action against high-profile scammers like the "Card Services" ones, they just keep coming back.

JAugust 11, 2014 1:40 AM

@Anoni: "As for the "Microsoft" guys... Hang up on them and they just keep calling back and back and back all day long. But string them along for 15 or 20 minutes, and then tell them you're running Linux, and, after they're done swearing at you in at least 3 different languages, they'll put you on their own internal never-call-this-person-again list."

I've always thought they should be a legitimate target for Predator drone strikes but your way is nearly as satisfying.

"If you are working for one of those bad guys, and you lose your job over shit like this, PLEASE OUT YOUR BOSS! A lot of folks would like to know who he is and where he lives! Bonus points if you can tell us about any dark alleys nearby. Though personally I'd be happy just to sue him for harassment!"

One wonders what would happen if a bounty was offered on leaking the identity of people who run these scams.

Ole JuulAugust 11, 2014 4:06 AM

@way to blame the victim: I'm not blaming the victim. I hate these things as much as anybody. However, spending two minutes to configure your phone to exclude telemarketers is not too much to ask. My point is that either you're supporting an ILEC (incumbent local exchange carrier) and contributing to the problem, or you're just downright lazy. I suggest that people do something practical instead of thinking antisocial thoughts and getting bent out of shape. Dump the incumbents and change your telephone technology. I know that is not realistic for some folk. But for those that post on a site like this it's only a matter of choice.

SteveAugust 11, 2014 8:13 AM

@jdgalt: Thank you for making my case for me.

And with that, I think I'll check out of this one. Arguing with Randroids is like arguing with the drunk at the end of the bar, you just end up spilling your beer.

BillAugust 15, 2014 2:30 AM

Rachel and her ilk primarily call people who have already told them not to call, in hopes of scamming them out of money. (They're happy to call other people too, but so far they've probably called every landline in the country a few hundred times.) The people who work for those companies know that, and know that they're in the business of ripping off people who are already in financial difficulty, and they're ok with that. If you waste their telemarketers' time, you're doing your neighbors a service, and if you waste enough of their time to make it uneconomical, maybe they'll quit.

Clive RobinsonAugust 15, 2014 3:39 AM

@ Bill,


Over in the UK we have even weaker anti-telemarkiting legislation than you do in the US [1].

Appart from out and out scams like "Nigerian calls" and "share dumpers" we also have supposedly legitimate businesses including "Pay Day" and other "lenders", who had at one point annual intrest rates that were not capped by legislation and were as little as 3500%... Even though now limited 1000%+ is not uncommon...

If the people working for such organisations don't know what they are doing then they must be mentally difficient in certain areas.

[1] one reason for the lack of legislation is the worlds largest industry beating even religion is Marketing, and money talks... especialy to politico's, who inthe UK are 400% more likely to go to jail than your average citizen.

paranoia destroys yaAugust 17, 2014 7:01 PM

Neither the phone companies or the government have done much to stop telemarketers spoofing phone numbers and not using the national DNC list.
Phone billing records could help identify who is dialing faster than humanly possible. (That would be a better use of the data than how the NSA was looking for.)
In the 1970s the phone companies changed their equipment to foil blue boxes, now they just add more equipment with the same vulnerabilities to handle the traffic.
A while back, the FTC had a "Robocall Challenge" to find ways to deal with Rachel. It seemed more focused on developing products to sell than on identifying and catching telemarketers. Fixing this may require a coordinated international effort involving tech people instead of passing some telemarketing theatre laws with no teeth.

It is only a matter of time before the explosion of telemarketers causes a DOS type attack on the phone system.

ACAugust 20, 2014 9:50 PM

I feel sorry for the caller, but not enough to object to retaliation. Telemarketers call me in my home, at a time they choose, when I'm doing something more important. They call to sell me things I don't want. They use deliberately manipulative techniques to get me to agree. They are using my time and my phone line without my permission, over my objections. They nearly always hide their identity in some way.

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