A Cure for phone spam, robocalls

Phone spam (robocalls) has reached epic proportions., especially since I want to receive important phone calls.

I realize, that I must be a bit older generation, still hanging on to a “land line” phone number, but that’s what makes this cure so easy.

In earlier posts I pointed out that I deployed a VoIP (Voice over IP) server — I have four phone numbers. Mainline (which I’ve kept for over 20 years, despite moving), another number for my wife (she’s starting a business), an 800 toll-free number in case my kids need to reach me, With four numbers, this effectively quadruples the number of spam calls I receive, though even with one number the spam calls drive me crazy. The Do-not-call is completely ineffective (unless you’re willing to litigate all the callers — for which I don’t even dream to have the time).

So, I present my solution, which worked REALLY WELL.

Using Asterisk phone server, on FreePBX — both deployed on my router (see earlier posts), small computer, very little energy, no fans…

All I needed to do, was an IVR (interactive Voice Menu), with a simple message: “You have reached the Otala Household, press XX for Taneli, press YY for Abigail…” Allow three tries for pressing the digits, and then just dump the call into a VMUL (Voice Mail, Unavailable). As it turns out, ANY human seems to be able to press the digits to get connected to the phones directly, but NO ROBOCALLER gets through.

Ok, I am a bit of phone fanatic, I have Polycom phones in every room of the house. And now I have regained trust that when the phones ring, there’s a real caller, i.e. I finally have a reason to pick up a ringing phone.

Other benefits…

  • Time conditions; during nighttime, all calls go into voice mail (unless caller identifies emergency).
  • Faxes (does anyone use them still) are also received (and printed)
  • My wife has her phones with a different ring-tone, so we even who is being tried to reach
  • The Follow-me feature will forward my calls to my cell phone when I’m traveling
  • The DISA feature allows me to call the system and choose the outgoing line, and dial globally with reduced rates
  • I can have phone numbers in almost any country/geography — good for relatives
  • I can receive text messages (SMS) as well

Unfortunately Google’s “Screen Caller” does not work as well on Androids, as you’d still be interrupted.

This is saving me to the tune of 4-8 spam phone calls per day, EVERY DAY.