OT: Handling Phone Spam

I couldn’t come up with a board where this was on topic, so it is going here. I feel compelled to share this.

I was getting a lot of phone calls that I can only describe as spam. The typical call ended up being for - saying it was for - a PAC (Political Action Committee) that always was for supporting something only a cruel, heartless excuse for a human being could take issue with - homeless veterans, injured fire fighters, childhood cancer - and always ended with “when you receive your envelope can we count on you…”. ALL these calls paused at the beginning, after I said hello, and then launched into a recording. All automated at the start.

I made one simple change, and the calls have all but stopped. If I don’t recognize the caller I stopped saying Hello. Before noon? I say Good morning! Later it is Good afternoon!, or Good evening!. When I do this the calling system just hangs up! And there are far fewer such calls now. :sunglasses:


My landline spam fix ran from initially harassing the caller, if live, to turning the phone ringers down & turning off the recorder, then turning them off, to finally doing a Disconnect, since at&t was doing nothing to reduce the calls, and on top of it hit us with a $50 charge (72 minutes) when DW mistakenly caller our SIL, who lives 10 miles away in the same LATA, 707, but her cell is from the SF Bay Area LATA, 415. Final straw, we’d watched the cost of that landline rise to $50/mo, but kept it for E911 service, as we’re new the firestorm areas, so that last month, with the errant call out, it doubled… Had that line since the early 1960s, no more, and at&t blew it… Didn’t even try to argue when I called in the disconnect…

Well that’s surprising and cool! In my case I never answer when I don’t know the number. If it’s important they’ll leave a message. My Android phone also flags a lot of span calls for me as well.


I use Ooma. The Ooma device is about $100. Call blocking needs the Premier plan at about $100/year. With this setup, my monthly bill is less than $10 and I can limit calls to a easily managed contact list. (I block all numbers not in my contacts and send to voicemail.) Setup is easy. Ooma depends on the internet, and so will not work when there is no internet connection available.
Step 1 Activate your service online.
Step 2 Plug your high-speed internet connection into Ooma Telo.
Step 3 Plug your home phone into Ooma Telo.

Spam hasn’t been a problem on our iPhones, either, CallerID could have made the landline controllable, but at&t’s bean counters never turned loose of it, they’d still be charging for TouchTone calling if they could… Smart Phones at least have that option and many more, landline, copper lines are slipping away…

Still ticks me off, as a WeCo Installer, we put in all those switches, cut many over from electromechanical to electronic, ESS, systems, Toll gear, with the RBOCs & AT&T as customers, at one point we were AT&T Service Division, Installers prior to splitting off to Lucent Tech… Still carry shares in T, but I sure don’t see the wireline side surviving, long term…

AT&T has asked state regulators in California to allow them to discontinue landline service. They have, of course, historically been in that business and had a regulated monopoly there, in return for which they promised to provide the service to anyone who requested it. Now that it’s not profitable - and they have other fish to fry - the want out, and badly.

Of course they didn’t try to argue. They want you gone. You and all your profit clogging, ole timey customers who expect actual service.The fewer of you there are, the more likely the state utilities board is to grant their request to shut it down.

Realizing the bad optics, AT&T is now changing their request to “allow them to upgrade” certain things, probably code for “and ask for exorbitant rate increases, which when denied, will give us even more reason to shut the whole thing down.”

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They’re in a death spiral from where I sit, over the years, all residential lines, 1FR’s as opposed to business lines, 1FB or other codes in the translations in the switches as far as how the calls are handled, features included, or as add-ons… We had 2 lines for a while one for my DD, until she married, left, used it for a FAX line until the spammers found it, sent unwanted ads… And DSL until it had various troubles, old copper, underground, watched as the tech opened the terminal case, water poured out, and finally, ground shifting broke it up under the street, replaced, but by then Comcast had come along, upgraded the area, so we hopped over to them for web, but still hung onto that one landline… Meantime, as I had worked on installing the Sprint cell system here, as well as growing the Verizon cell system, I know which had the better coverage, savvier techs, so as soon as Apple & Verizon got together we were onto iPhones, but kept the landlines, ‘just in case’, with all the area wildfires, firestorms, and maybe a bit of old loyalty to old Ma Bell, where my Western Electric roots had been… So I still hold T & VZ shares, also much more in Apple. But again, the residential service side, as you note in the article is a mess, Service has been forgotten as the bean counters think they have the answer…

I’m glad to have been part of, built a bit of Ma Bell’s inside equipment, but that outside plant, poles, copper, support is slipping away… The last tech I talked to believed all the copper was going to be abandoned, replaced by a wifi system, small cells, but that never took off either…

Coverage out to the boonies, has never been easy or cheap, hopefully the regulators continue to force the coverage… There are radio systems, that could be used for some of it, satellite maybe for emergency calls, like our iPhones can do now, but that’s not what folks out there want… What a mess…

I think we know long term ATT and others will switch to cell towers rather than maintaining landlines.

In my area they are installing lots of fiber. And as they do that “land line” becomes VOIP.

I still have coax for cable.

We shall see what happens next.

If you buy a new house will it be wired for tekephone with “twisted pair” of copper? Coax for cable? Fiber? Or will it be all wifi?

Decisions, decisions. How do you keep up with the times?

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Well, at7t has their own cellular network, the snuck it past us, WeCo/Lucent, without even asking for a bid, while they were still Pacific Bell or SBC… Didn’t buy or CDMA gear, I think it’e Erickson, or some other hardware… Used their switching Central Offices mostly, never saw them out in the boonies where we were adding Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile cell sites…

We, Lucent, had a contract to add fiber to the curb, here in California, the Pronto project, we had a 3rd level manager dedicated to it, they began on Southern California… We had tons of reels of fiber, coax, amps, power units, all manner of need hardware. But they underestimated the trenching costs, badly, real badly, then the beairocracy of Permits in all the cities, towns turned into a night mare, so in the end only some new construction areas were built up, the bulk collapsed, some of the project did add fiber out to residential or business hubs, but the rest collapsed, all the materials scrapped or sold cheap, the project manager gave up, retired… Poof…

Trenching in an city, town is hazardous if not done very carefully, as in hand digging unknown situations…

So I have Xfinity over coax, I think they have fiber out to distribution hubs, it’s been pretty solid, but they do have outages from time to time… that’s when the iPhone on Verizon comes in handy, keeps on going… So new we’ve two new ones, and I have a bin of old phones, a home with old copper wiring, unused… Pay a lot for the Xfinity with all the added premium and sports channels… Cell cost is fair, we keep the monthly cost down by buying the iPhones every few years, like the computers at some point they need upgrading…

I’d imagine a new home should be set up, wired for ethernet or fiber, just in case, as well as coax for CATV… But a decent mesh wifi network should be there, too, all our recent appliances, thermostat, drip system, even the RAV4 rely on WiFi connections…

A complex world today, my parents can’t imagine where we are today, technically…

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We live the in the last section of a 940 unit development. All sections opened beginning in 2014 are like our house – underground fiber and coax in the street. Most houses (over 80%) have coax based TV. No twisted pair telephone service to houses or in the street. Our previous residence built in 2000 did have twisted pair and coax in the street. Six or seven years ago Google fiber was added to that development and AT&T put 5G cans on poles surrounding the development.

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I dropped a pebble and started a landslide.

I moved to a new (for me) house a few years ago. Phone wires running everywhere I looked up in the basement. I seemed like I took down a mile of it, and there is plenty still there. Phone jacks all over the place. Some of those came in handy, as all the holes were in place to change them to ethernet jacks when I ran Cat6e back to a switch at my Cox cable modem. Cox cable and internet is my link to the world. My cell signal stinks, but my iPhone uses the WiFi when I’m home.

Phone service around here used to be Southern New England Telephone (SNET), never really part of AT&T and now known as Frontier. They tell me that they will provide me with a fiber connection. First came a piece that hooked to a door knob saying it was coming, then a promise in the mail that it was coming. Since then there have been no less than thirteen pieces of mail inviting me to use their fiber. (Every time a new one comes it gets added to a pile.) What is impressive about this relentless investment in postage is that no two of them are the same.

I pay for 500 Mbps from Cox over the coax and get 600. They offer gigabit but I don’t need it and the combined internet/cable bill is already crazy high. Frontier is pushing a deal for 500, and their web site claims they have offerings up to ten times that speed. The one advantage that would have is that upload speed matches download, but for what I do I’ve never had an issue with the vastly slower 29 Mbps upload on Cox. I’ve been tempted to let them install it and have both for a while, but everything reaches my property by poles, then goes underground to my house. I have no idea what it would take to add to that.

Phone scams need to be stopped. Some people need a phone in case of an emergency or for wellness checks. Cable providers should be required to provide a low cost landline option with effective call blocking. Cable contracts are negotiated by towns, and so call your mayor if action is needed. AT&T is charging over $50 a month for a landline in Ohio (local calls only) with no mention of call blocking.

My local Comcast is offering internet for $10/month, with an add-on home phone for $20/month that includes call blocking and unlimited nationwide and international calling. These are introductory rates, but the Ohio AT&T landline charges seem outlandish, and the lack of call blocking is ridiculous.

74-year-old Ohio woman charged in armed robbery of credit union was scam victim, family says
Scams against seniors have become increasingly common over the last 10 to 15 years, according to experts.


Scammers send out zillions of messages everyday. Equipment suppliers and service providers know who they are. They are good customers.

They prefer profits to protecting customers.

There ought to be a law.

A couple of years ago out AT&T bill came in at over $80/mo. We had this landline for roughly 50 years. There was nothing fancy on the landline. No call forwarding, no call waiting, no recording of messages, nada. I happened to have an old iPhone 8 that I kept after we upgraded to iPhone 13’s and had read about a feature called porting where you can keep your phone number. I called AT&T and they basically mailed me a SIM card that I installed in the iPhone 8 and it worked.

My phone bill went from $80 plus a month to something like $30 a month. Also I gained all kinds of side benefits. I now have texting on the home phone, callers can leave a message, I can bring the home phone with me if I’m expecting an important call.

Yea, AT&T got a little out of hand with that last increase. It’s almost like they were telling us “Hey man cut the land line”.



I think the guys making the business decisions at AT&T are often green. Still wet behind the ears.

They seem not to realize a new victim is not born every minute. We learn to deal with their excesses and avoid them where we can.

In the commodity chemistry business, you know all your customers, all your competitors and you play for the long game. Long term business relationships are what its all about. AT&T didn’t get the memo.

They used to have that Memo, lost it by the '90s, we built hardware to last seemingly forever, even the later Ess equipment expected a 50 year life, and then the beancounters came in, Lab research budgets cut, gaming the sales numbers, cutting the maintenance, the core aged out, left, new management lacked the foresight, experience… Sad to see… I had some great managers the time I was there, but it began to rot up top, so it goes…

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The AT&T of today is not the Ma Bell of a century ago. They split into Baby Bells. One should mention Lucent and the scramble for long distance fiber.

Finally one of the Baby Bells, Southwestern Bell bought what was left and adopted the AT&T name.

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