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Cellphones Advertising Government

No, Your Phone Didn't Ring. So Why Voice Mail From a Telemarketer? (lifehacker.com) 210

Slashdot reader midwestsilentone tipped us off to a growing problem. Lifehacker reports: New technology allows telemarketers to leave ringless voicemail messages, and it's a method that's gaining traction. While there are laws to regulate businesses when they call consumers, some groups argue that ringless voicemail shouldn't count. The New York Times reports,"ringless voicemail providers and pro-business groups...argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing"... After receiving a petition from a ringless voicemail provider, the Federal Trade Commission has started to collect public comments on this issue. So what can you do about it? First, you can head here to leave your public comment and if you're getting these voicemails, you can file a complaint with the FCC here.
Presumably that only applies if you're in the U.S. But I'd be curious to hear how many Slashdot readers have experienced this.
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No, Your Phone Didn't Ring. So Why Voice Mail From a Telemarketer?

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  • by DewDude ( 537374 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:40AM (#54591921)
    considering they're probably going to allow this for politicans...and the current head of the FCC has done a wonderful job of giving the public the middle finger; letting them know he does *NOT* work for them and does not care about their opinions...even going as far as to MOCK the American Public. All you can expect from the FCC is a reply mocking you for not wanting a company to do business...no matter how much of a harassment it is.
    • by sfled ( 231432 )
      Do the spammer a favor, and post their number on /b/ :-) Helpful
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DewDude ( 537374 )
        Yes...and then due to the fact the FCC now hates Americans (and America); they would probably use that as an excuse to ramp up surveillance so they can prosecute beyond the extent of the law those who are "harassing" the telemarketers. You have to remember...once something is deemed legal; it's game over. Any retaliation you take will be either invalid (like filing a compliant) or criminal (doing just about anything else). IT will be of the opinion of the government that the company has done nothing wrong;
    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @12:39PM (#54592265) Journal

      The telcos will charge the spammers for direct access to voicemail and will offer consumers a service (at additional cost) that will block voicemails from spammers.

    • Is there a list somewhere of companies and politicians that use robo-calls and slydial?
      It would be great if their behavior could be publicised so we can boycott and vote against the offenders.

  • Kinda (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:46AM (#54591949)

    But I'd be curious to hear how many Slashdot readers have experienced this.

    Not lately nor from telemarketers. But we used to do this back in the late 90s and early 00's

    Our circle of friends consisted by the vast majority of "night owls" forced to work first shift jobs.
    If it was after midnight and we wanted to get a message to someone or perhaps talk on the phone, we would leave a message directly on the voicemail server without calling their phone.

    If they were awake and saw the voicemail indicator, they could call back.
    If they were asleep, you'd either not get a call back or get it the next day or something, but safe in the knowledge you didn't wake anyone up.

    It just involved swapping carrier voicemail system numbers along with your phone number.
    This was before such info was online, or at least easy to find, but you can always call in and get the number for your own voicemail server, since its entire purpose of existing was so you can check your voicemail from someone elses phone.

    I am however greatly saddened to see such a useful thing abused in this way.

    • Re:Kinda (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @01:44PM (#54592621)

      That's not what is going on here. This is telemarketers attempting to glitch your cell phones into not ringing, and then leaving voicemail for you.

      One big problem is that this doesn't always work. Every single day I get at least 1-2 one-ring-then-hang-up calls, often 3-4 of them within 5 seconds of each other, followed by a voicemail. And those voicemail notifiers still chime, still distract me from what I'm doing, and it still takes time to listen to the voicemail before I determine that it's not really something for me.

      And that brings up the reason this is often even more annoying and inconvenient than normal telemarketer calls: People have gotten good at identifying those within 2-3 seconds as pre-recorded crap. These new ones are made to sound like a normal voicemail, so it takes longer to identify it as spam.

      • It is exactly what's going on here. The ability to call a voicemail platform system and leave a voicemail for any subscriber contained within it, without ringing their cell phone, has existed for years. This is not new technology wherein the telemarketer is "glitching" your phone.

        ...and before you go spouting off some self-proclaimed facts, please know that I worked for AT&T for a decade.

  • by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:46AM (#54591951)
    If they have the right to fill up my voicemail with message I don't want, I should have the same right to continually call them, tying up their phone line. Sounds fair, right?
    • by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @01:47PM (#54592637)

      If they have the right to fill up my voicemail with message I don't want, I should have the same right to continually call them, tying up their phone line. Sounds fair, right?

      You absolutely can do that. The problem is that it doesn't do shit. If you call back the number, you get a pre-recorded message. All you're really doing is wasting your own time. Even if you do get their direct line and call in, it's a bank of minimum-wage call center idiots who just hang up on you when they figure out you don't want to buy anything.

      • Speed redial is quick to do and annoys the next CC agent.

        What? You put me on your black list for doing that?

        Well, mission accomplished.

        • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

          Speed redial is quick to do and annoys the next CC agent.

          What? You put me on your black list for doing that?

          Well, mission accomplished.

          I did once get a company to stop calling by calling them back repeatedly over a 2 hour timeframe. Every time I called, I pretended to be a different person, and ran the gamut from pissed off, to crying uncontrollably, to just telling the fucker on the other end over and over "make the world a better place. Kill yourself." (The latter I wouldn't do to a normal telemarketer, but I was pissed at these guys because it was a verified scam from overseas trying to steal your credit cards.)

          They never actually block

          • You probably got blacklisted. I managed to get this feat accomplished with a few scammers, and it seems that such lists get traded around, there's been a decline in annoying asshole calls in the more recent past, I guess my "weird old stupid geezer who wastes our time" skit finally bears fruit.

            • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

              I still get 15-20 calls a day. I guess I have to make myself a much bigger pain in their asses to get on the global blacklist, then.

              Maybe calling up, talking softly, then suddenly screaming as loud as I can will do the trick. :)

              • No. Just sound like you're some confused, crazy old geezer. Keep asking the same questions over and over, ask them to say it again because "you're not hearing so well anymore" and berate them ("kids these days") if they somehow start to get impatient with you.

                Keep them running in a circle and eventually they will be frustrated enough to just be really pissed at you for wasting their time. They might call again if the agent is a bastard and tries to waste some coworker's time as well, but so far I haven't ha

    • I should have the same right to continually call them, tying up their phone line. Sounds fair, right?

      Even better, you should do this to the politicians that have the power to ban this, and the power to require the telcos to fix the technology that makes abusive behavior possible in the first place. The politicians are the root of the problem. Focus on them.

    • Telemarketers, at least the ones willing to break the law by calling people on the Do Not Call list, typically spoof caller ID, making it useless for return-call spamming. Sometimes, the spoofed number belongs to some innocent, unsuspecting third party, as with the "lower your electric bill!" scammer who called me a couple of hours ago. So at best, return call spamming would be useless and at worst you'd be harassing some innocent victim who got joe-jobbed.
      • That's why I usually insist that I call back first to have the negotiation talk. You know, there's so many scammers out there and while I do think you sound really honest and your offer is more than welcome to me, I am also sure a honest businessman like you understands.

  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:47AM (#54591959) Homepage

    I had my cell phone carrier remove the voice mail feature from my phone. Take that suckers!

    • I don't have voicemail on my landline as I have an answering machine, but there is an voicemail indicator on my phone that still goes on.

    • My Centurylink LAND LINE has a built-in voicemail service that overrides my local answering machine. Any idea how I can disable the Centurylink one?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have century link, I called them and had it disabled.

    • by DewDude ( 537374 )
      Plot twist: New FCC rules will require voicemail service on all phones.
      • So what?

        It's like with the first amendment caveat: You may talk all you want, but you can't force me to listen.

    • by argee ( 1327877 )

      The problem with voice mail is that people leave messages. Carriers have it backwards. What I want is
      an OUTGOING message: "I am vacationing in Tehran until June 22, please call back after that." Then,
      click, hang up. But no carrier has OGM service, only tied with incoming. What I ended up doing is have
      the carrier disable voice mail. You call, it rings and rings if I am not around to answer.

      The other problem with Voice Mail is that it frustrates the caller:
      "You have reached the voice mail service of TW

    • But of course I have voice mail. I just don't listen to it and never return calls. But it keeps people who want to annoy me busy, thinking that I will return the call.

      People who know me know that they have to keep calling. People who don't think that the voice mail will eventually entitle them to being called by me and don't go on my nerve calling constantly.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I wished there was a to disable Google Voice's VM. My number isn't tied to any phones too. I asked and was told there wasn't a way. :(

  • circular file (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:48AM (#54591969) Journal

    First, you can head here to leave your public comment and if you're getting these voicemails, you can file a complaint with the FCC here.

    It's adorable that you think a complaint to Trump's FCC is going to have any effect.

    • >"It's adorable that you think a complaint to Trump's FCC is going to have any effect."

      And it is equally adorable if you think by saying nothing, one's voice would ever be heard. So don't bother complaining here if you are not willing to complain there first (hopefully you have). And yes, I HAVE complained there myself.

    • It's adorable that you think a complaint to Trump's FCC is going to have any effect.

      You should at least leave a ringerless voice mail to their cell phone and to their office phone. Automating it and doing it once a month should do the trick (after all, you don't want to be accused of doing a denial of service attack). Plus, you should do the same for all your local legislators.

      And since it's a political message, you can let the phone ring if you want, it doesn't matter. Political messages are exempt from robocalls and telemarketing regulations [ftc.gov]. Just make sure to call between 8 AM and 9 PM

  • I remember hearing very few people listen to voicemail on the phone. I know I never do. I just look at the call log and call people I know should I miss the call.

    Have fun filling up my voicemail. BTW if the phone starts ringing for telemarketers or if telemarketers start texting me, into the river the phone will go.

  • by angryargus ( 559948 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:51AM (#54591989)

    It's always been the case that the voicemail systems for cell phones have a generic number that can be used to access the system itself (at which point the system prompts for which phone number you want to use for leaving or accessing a message). Generally there's a known mapping for region or phone prefix to VM number (e.g., an example [cellularbackdoor.com] or two [cellularbackdoor.com]) though I think at least AT&T uses one system and number for all iphones. The only thing that's new is telemarketers realizing they might be able to workaround the restrictions by using this route.

  • Which "technology" do they use to leave the voice mail ? I'm pretty sure we can block that in our phones.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @11:59AM (#54592047)
    I don't kind of hate voicemail but I really really hate it. With my provider I can't turn it off. So I have a voicemail saying, "Don't leave a voice mail." I got rid of a phone where I couldn't turn off the voicemail notifications.

    Quite simply there should be a do not bother me law. Mail, phone, voicemail, or pretty much any government regulated resource that I have should not be available for people to market their crap. That includes charities and politicians.

    I don't even want warnings. I turned on the weather warning texts that my local government offered and they basically spammed me with "Be prepared" or "There is a weather warning in a place so far away that I will never ever go there, ever." messages. I turned it off a day later. So if there is an alien invasion where they have guns that fire tornadoes, I still don't want a text or voicemail.
    • We got that garbage a few years ago in the military. You would get all kinds of crazy notices that had nothing to do with anything at all hours of the day or night. After the first week of that, most of us changed our contact numbers to various people we disliked. The commander's secretary's phone would ring off the hook every time there was a warning.

      Same goes for University of South Florida that auto signed you up when took classes. Thankfully it only took a few minutes to find the "fuck off and die

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      How about change the voice mail to say "By leaving a voice mail message on this voice mailbox, I certify that I will pay $1,000 per call and beat myself about the face and neck with a baseball bat."

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        Back in the old answering machine days I had recorded a message of the SIT tones [wikipedia.org] and the phone company recording of "I'm sorry the number you have dialed is disconnected..."

        My friends knew to let it play through twice and then they could leave a message, got me off of a lot of telemarketer lists.

    • That's the big problem with SMS government-issued warnings -- the inevitable growth of StupidWarnings, like "flash flood" alerts in South Florida (asteroid-strike tsunami notwithstanding, a genuinely life-threatening rapid surge of raging floodwater is basically impossible in South Florida... but that doesn't stop them from sending the warnings just because a major road a few miles away got flooded due to a clogged storm drain). Or "hurricane warnings" sent at 6:30am two days before predicted landfall (hint

      • NWS also seems to treat a tornado ANYWHERE in the same county as a county-wide emergency, even though they can supposedly send SMS warnings with cell-tower granularity.

        I would rather have them blanket the county with the warning vs trying to pinpoint it. Why? Couple points.

        1) Tornadoes are unpredictable at times plus the local NWS office is busier than snot during severe weather.
        2) When theres one there is a possibility for more.
        3) They don't want to have someone transitioning from a non-alerted tower and miss the alert because they registered three seconds too late.

      • It only took them a few months to convince me to turn off "Amber Alerts." If an alert goes out or not depends entirely on if the family has direct access to the police chief, it has nothing to do with the utility in the particular case of informing the public.

        I'd love a "real emergencies only, no false positives, false negatives accepted" weather radio, though. No storm watches, and put the ocean weather on a separate channel. I really don't care what type of small craft advisory has been issued. I also don

    • That's why you root, S-OFF, and flash a custom ROM. Modified SMS programs can completely disable all alerts, even Presidential Alerts, and you can tell your carrier to disable voicemail.

    • put down 1-215-739-8255 as your number! and then they will get billed.

    • I wished there was a to disable Google Voice's VM. My number isn't tied to any phones too. I asked and was told there wasn't a way.

  • The joke is on them. I never check voice mail or even bother to set it up

    You want to talk to me or leave me a message that is what texting is for. For telemarketers that what is the blocking/ignore function is for.

    • People screening their calls use voicemail. I don't answer the phone unless it is a number that I know or I am expecting a call from someone else.

      Texting is no better because it is still an interrupt. Voicemail, like email, will wait until I poll it.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @12:12PM (#54592123) Homepage

    Marketeers should all die.
    Tele-marketeers first of all.

    • And I'm honestly surprised that it's still illegal to hunt them for sport. You know, in a working democracy, the majority gets their way...

  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @12:26PM (#54592197)

    "argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing"

    Correct, they should be classified as harassment. And since it's done over the telephone and likely come from out of state, the FBI has jurisdiction.

    • "argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing"

      Correct, they should be classified as harassment. And since it's done over the telephone and likely come from out of state, the FBI has jurisdiction.

      Isn't it vexing how lawmakers and marketers claim exemption from "consumer" protection laws AND prevent us from claiming exemption from being classed as "consumer" in the first place?
      It used to be that to consume something, you had to "hear" about it by passive means and willingly seek it out. Marketers turned that into "cram it down his throat by any means necessary and ask questions later... we can't be sued, so at worst, he won't buy the product! #win-win"

  • Spam. They discovered how to send Voicemail Spam. I can't even be mad, that's impressive.

  • People still use voicemail? It's the first thing I disable at any provider. Call me again if it was important.

  • If I'm reading this (a 'petition' filed with the FCC) correctly, commenting expired a week ago: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_pub... [fcc.gov] However, the link in the original post shows new comments.

    Has anyone figured out if it's possible to add a comment? If so, what are you using for the "proceedings" field here:
    https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filin... [fcc.gov]

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Saturday June 10, 2017 @12:54PM (#54592339)

    I recorded the out of service SIT tone (the three rising beeps that you hear when you dial an out of service phone number) as the first thing on my outbound voicemail message. So my outbound message is "beep beep beep Hello this is me etc. etc.")

    Most robodialers are programmed to hang up and remove the number from their dialing lists when they hear those three beeps.

    Real people can still leave you a message, but it works amazingly well to keep spammers off of your voicemail.

    You can download the sit tone from several places; just run the phrase "sit tone" through google and you'll find it.

  • At least we know who to thank: http://straticsnetworks.com/ri... [straticsnetworks.com]
  • >"While there are laws to regulate businesses when they call consumers, some groups argue that ringless voicemail shouldn't count.

    Are you kidding me? Voicemail is even MORE annoying than calls. I will get pestered by repeating notifications and have to stop what I am doing and "log into" it just to delete them. So instead of a few second annoyance, this equates to a many seconds annoyance.

    I am already pissed that I have no way of rejecting a call AND that rejects their ability to leave a voicemail (I

  • ...I'm rather glad we don't have to deal with the FCC. I don't get telemarketing on my mobile and I certainly don't use voicemail, although whenever I change SIM my provider thoughtfully makes it the default option, swiftly disabled. The first thing I do after disabling it is to reset my voicemail number to my home - which has built-in storage for a lot more messages than my mobile service could handle. My wife's phone does the same - number of telemarketing messages received in the last 10 years or so =

  • This also mean it is perfectly legal to put a bag of dogpoop on a telemarketers porch if you do not ring the door bell. But you can not put it on fire, and therefore you can omit the paper bag.
    • Why should I put the telemarketer on his porch, that lazy bastard can go there himself!

    • by vlad30 ( 44644 )
      Is there a list somewhere that tells you who works in telemarketing and where they live. Sounds like a good web site to make. Make it undesirable to work in the industry and if not the telemarketer the people who use them
  • There's lots of pro-Trump folks on /., especially when they were staring down the barrel of a Hilary presidency. Sony Music CD DRM is more popular on /. than Hilary was/is.

    But all the folks seem to go missing whenever a story about privacy or Net Neutrality crops up. Yeah, yeah, I know. You can agree with Trump on some things and disagree with him on others. All I'm saying is, you made this bed, dragged the rest of us into it. Now you're damn well gonna sleep in it too. And I'll be damned if you're gonn
  • You can let google handle your voicemail for you and then you can manage them like emails in your inbox. I don't like the idea of google sifting through all of my voice communications, but better than me having to sift through them.
  • Whoever makes it legal to shoot these bastards on sight has my vote!

    Go get it.

  • I haven't listened to my voice mail in at least 5 years. No point when people tend to text or email shit anyways.

  • I checked my phone and I had voicemail. Confused and wondering how on earth someone did that I checked and it was a call about student loans that I have and how I can improve my savings. Weird because I never had a student loan.

    Let's really call what ringless voicemail are. Another revenue stream for the Telcos. They could easily end that service. Start there first and fix the problem at the source.

  • What about answer machines? Can they still do that too?

  • I s a lessen advertisers should learn. In the early days of TV 12 minutes per hour now its 18-20, in Newspapers decent comprehensive article with a few ads is replaced now with a page of ads with click bait headline. translated to the web, even articles are often nothing more than advertising, I remember when the telemarketer call was rare and they offered something in return and a few weeks later a small free gift would arrive in the mail. Even Billboards now not only everywhere but distracting moving pict

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