Phone Spam

Mobile-Phone-SPAMGot my first straight up spam phone call tonight. It was so over the top that I had to listen to it just to see how bad it was. A robo-dialed call from the 202 area code was offering secret weight loss berries from Siberia. All I had to do was leave my name and phone number on the voice mail of whoever’s system was hacked and doing the robo-dialing and they would call me back to get my credit card info. Couldn’t be anything wrong with leaving my credit card info, right?

I’m actually curious how this type of system could work. Email spam always worked because the incremental cost of sending spam was essentially $0. You could send out millions and if only 100 people ever responded you’d still make money. With those percentages it’s possible to come across someone that believes that secret berries will overcome your beer drinking habit or that mushroom extract will give you a “bigger manliness”.

Phone spam would have to overcome the issues with the cost of placing a phone call. Other than hacking the phone system and using a blue box like Woz and Jobs were famous for, there is always a cost to placing a phone call. So either the phone spammers have discovered a whole population of people willing to give their credit card info to random people on the phone or they’ve discovered a way to make free phone calls.

The number that called tonight (202-211-8774) is not a legitimate number. When I attempted to call back I got the “This call can not be completed” error with a male voice that kicked in afterwards saying error “090T”. Didn’t find anything relevant about this error on The Goog. I’m guessing someone is placing this phone call for free, just not sure how, caller id is probably spoofed but that doesn’t answer the cost aspect.

If this call is a sign of things to come, having a telephone in your house could become much more unpleasant.  Email became unusable until spam filters were put in place in pretty much every email application. There’s no infrastructure for doing phone call spam filtering other than something like Google Voice which has some basic filters .

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