Robo calls

General discussions and other topics.
43 posts Page 1 of 5
by agal » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:12 pm
I spoke to someone in your Technical Dept. about being inundated with robo calls and was told to post my problem on Forums. For weeks I have been receiving calls from various callers with the same prefix: 836 as mine. I don't answer and they don't leave a message. These have been from: Wireless CA 836-4492; Wireless Caller 836-6160; Wireless CA 836-1302; SSI 836-8034; Kay Delaney 836-1332; Windsor CA 836-8382; Sharon Shepard 836-1749. I have never heard of these people and would like their numbers blocked.
by drew.phillips » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:44 pm
Unfortunately these are difficult or impossible to block because these calls are coming from criminal advertisers who are spoofing the phone number to look similar to yours. Calls aren't actually originating from these numbers, and they're totally random and therefore unblockable. It looks like someone has borrowed this technique because the person initially responsible for these had been shut down recently (see ... r-fcc-fine)

My advice for now is to simply ignore them (since they'll have the same area code and prefix as your number). It appears this operation is large scale enough that surely the FCC and other organizations are tracing and finding those responsible for the calls.
Drew Phillips
Programmer / System Operations,
by Kevin_Stephens » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:11 pm
888 422 9852 Needs to be added to the Block List an Teller Marker.
by dane » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:00 pm
Yep, this is called "neighbor spoofing", where they fake a source telephone number that is in your area code, or prefix, in an attempt to get you to answer.

This foils our spam call blocking, which is a realtime-response blacklist of high-volume commercial callers which is powered by Nomorobo. Because in neighbor spoofing the numbers are random, and often are actual valid and real numbers - thus the names you see in the caller ID. In other words, if we blocked those numbers, those real and legitimate neighbors would be unable to call any Sonic customers!

Using neighbor spoofing is the next step in the arms race between telemarketers and call blocking by carriers and services. And unfortunately there isn't a good near-term fix. Technology fixes for source call authentication are in discussion in the carrier community, but much of the voice switching technology is so old that retrofitting this sort of security isn't likely. In other words, a call that goes through a twenty year old analog voice switch only carries standard caller ID signals - not whatever new authentication solutions might be developed. So there's not a clear path to a solution.

But in good news, the FCC has taken real enforcement action against a number of US-based robocalling entities that are either engaged in fraud or in illegal practices like caller ID spoofing or disregarding the do-not-call list. For some recent news on enforcement, see:

Health Insurance Telemarketer Made More Than 21 Million Illegally Spoofed Calls ... 6059A1.pdf

Company Facilitated Unwanted Robocalls Despite Commission Warning ... 5782A1.pdf

Timeshare Robocaller Apparently Made Almost 100 Million Illegally-Spoofed Calls ... 5470A1.pdf

All FCC Enforcement Division releases can be found here:
Dane Jasper
by lauramezirka » Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:19 pm
I've been getting almost no robocalls, now they're back.
New version today: They spoofed my daughters cell phone number. I have no idea how they did this.
I know about the emails, but not on phones.
The spoof kind of spooked me.

Has anyone else experienced this?
by drew.phillips » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:28 am
lauramezirka wrote:
I've been getting almost no robocalls, now they're back.
New version today: They spoofed my daughters cell phone number. I have no idea how they did this.
I know about the emails, but not on phones.
The spoof kind of spooked me.

Has anyone else experienced this?

This is personally the first I've heard of it, but makes sense with the proliferation of contact lists stored in the cloud (iCloud, Google accounts). For a long time, when email accounts got cracked, the perpetrators would download address books or scour send messages for recipients so they could later spoof messages from that person to known contacts.

It seems like the next iteration of this will be hacking someone's Google or iCloud account (since by default those sync contacts to the cloud for Android and iPhones) and then downloading people's phone lists. If you're listed in her phone as "Mom" or something similar in nature they'd almost be certain you'd answer a spoof call. But even if not, I'd be almost certain to answer a call if it were identified as one of my contacts due to a spoof. This is pure speculation but seems like a plausible explanation.

Another even simpler explanation is that they're using people finder websites that put together public records and publish phone numbers to paid subscribers. When you look up a person, they often have lists of relatives with their names, ages, and locations who you can then get numbers for. This is more complicated than the approach above but potentially easier.

In any case, I'm sorry to hear that happened. It's very spooky indeed. I'll also be interested to hear if anyone else has had this happen. If you answered, may I ask what the caller/message said or did they simply hang up as with many of these calls?
Drew Phillips
Programmer / System Operations,
by dane » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:46 am
We are seeing an upswing in "neighbor spoofing", where perhaps your telephone number is 415-555-1212, and the robocallers are setting their caller ID to 415-555-abcd - last four digits different, but point is it looks like a neighbor, someone in your city, and you might answer.

Spoofing Caller ID isn't legal, and the FCC enforcement group has been successful in shutting down a few of these operations, but they're often off-shore now, difficult to trace, etc, so the success is limited.
Dane Jasper
by radeyes » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:15 pm
Give a listen to the latest Planet Money podcast, it is on this very topic: ... l-invasion
by anon » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:01 pm
Here's a list of spam calls received recently:

by whorfin » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:06 am
I’m now getting several neighbor spoofing calls a day. The personal blacklist and Nomorobo are unhelpful.

I’d like to make a suggestion — provide us, the customer, with additional controls in our member portal.

Some suggestions:
1) wildcards in the “ignore” list
We could add our own “neighbor” list without having to construct 10K entries
2) add “neighbor” spoofing block option
Personally I have _never_ had a legit call from the “first six”
Nomorobo offers this in their mobile product
3) add “neighbor” spoofing “send to voicemail” option
For those who don’t want to totally block these calls, send the call direct to voicemail. This can give us some relief until if and when the plague passes
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