Telephone Carrier Slamming

Telephone carrier “slamming” is when customers are deceptively tricked into having their telephone service switched to a new carrier, either through deception, or no permission by the consumer at all. Sometimes telemarketers call requesting you switch, and despite your verbal decline, switch you to the new carrier regardless, which may have large fees and unfavorable rates. You may not even realize this has occurred until you receive a phone bill from a new carrier (because you be slammed), or your old carrier with unexpected charges (see telephone carrier “cramming”).

Telemarketing Scam: Caller ID Spoofing

Leveraging a spoofed (fake) caller id, telemarketers will call victims pretending to be someone other than who they are actually are in order to collect money or commit identity theft. For example, they may call from a spoofed Citibank number, and then pretend to be a Citibank representative with questions about your account.

Scam artists involved in this scheme, once having confirmed some comfort on your side, try to request additional personal information, and try to “verify” your Account #, Address, Social Security, etc. In certain cases they are not seeking money directly from you, but will use your information to open credit accounts and commit identity theft. There have been a variety of these scams in existence over time, with people claiming to be from the Government, IRS, Law Firms, National Security, distant Family Relatives, etc. Below are some examples of how these schemes have been conducted in the past.

  • Jury Duty scams in the past involved scammers pretending to be court officials claiming that the victim missed their Jury Duty date. When the victim replies this is not the case, they suggest it may be an error in their system and request their Name, Address, and Social Security number to confirm it is a mistake.
  • IRS scams involve scammers pretending to be IRS clerks looking for additional information to process payment or received or due, needing to simply verify some of the information provided, they will try to collect Name, Social Security Number, etc.
  • Government Grant scams suggesting to victims that they are eligible, or are already the recipient of a government grant of $10,000, and that to receive the reward you will need to provide your bank account information for them to deposit the money
  • Law Firm scams involves scammers calling to pretend to be from a Law Firm contacting the caller regarding an issue that has been raised. When the victim responds that they are not involved with the mentioned issue, the Law Firm requests additional information to validate that this is the case.

It is best simply to remember that for the most part you will not be contacted proactively to collect any personal information, and as a rule of thumb never give information to someone who calls you. If you are uneasy, simply hang up, and call back the company that you allegedly received the call from.

Telemarketing Scam: Call Forwarding Fraud

Telemarketers aiming to commit call forwarding fraud, will in certain cases use live or robocalls request the caller first dial a 2 digit code, following by asterisk (*) or hash (#), then dial the requested phone number to collect their prize. This procedure allows the scammer call your number and forward their calls to their desired long distance number, potentially international, all dialed to your home phone, without your knowledge.

Telemarketing Scam: Free Travel Schemes

Beware of telemarketers pushing free prizes, won trips, or travel packages. These can often sound legitimate, and in some cases do involve a trip, however, usually with many caveats involved. These telemarketers will join you into their travel service or club, which has membership fees, sometimes recurring, or have other restrictions or conditions that make the trip not worthwhile. It is best to follow the rule of thumb that if it sounds too good to be true, it is probably is, as no one is in business to lose money. Be sure to to collect information on the offer and check the company name and contact, before signing up or providing any payment.

Telemarketing Scam: Get Rich Quick

Telemarketers pushing get rich schemes, lure people looking for home based work, or a way to make extra income in ways that are quick and easy, once initial payment is provided. These scam artists will collect initial payment, potentially send materials, and never be heard from again.

Telemarketing B2B Scam: Photo Copier or Fax Toner

Many businesses have photo copiers and fax machines, and as a result scam artists will sometimes tele market a business posing as copier service company offering a great deal on service, or discounted and even free toner cartridges. Of course, the tele marketer will need more detail in order to ship this product, and will “confirm” the address of the business where they would like to receive the toner cartridge, cleaning kits, etc. If agreed to, the business will be shipped product, and then invoiced at a high or extreme above market rate for the product delivered.

ATT Prviacy Manager

From AT&T’s Site:

AT&T Privacy Manager works with Caller ID. Unidentified calls are intercepted and callers must identify themselves before your phone rings. Privacy Manager® then rings your phone with the recorded name of the caller and you direct how the call is handled, using one of three options:

* Accept the call – you know who it is!
* Send a “do not solicit” recorded message to telemarketers
* Ignore the call – play a recorded message instructing the caller to try and reach you later

Required: Caller ID
Recommended: Single Line Phone System

Description and Features

Privacy Manager® intercepts “unavailable” numbers, “unknown” callers, and “private” callers, and requires callers to identify themselves before your phone rings. Features of this service include:

* Automated instructions asking callers to record their names. The service then plays the recording and you decide how to handle the call:
o Accept the call
o Reject a sales call and play a recorded message asking to be removed from the telemarketer’s list
o Ignore the call and play a recorded message asking the caller to try again later
* Automatic disconnection of calls when callers do not provide the requested identification
* Flexibility to turn the service off or on so that you can receive faxes and automated calls, and check your voice mail
* Ability to provide preferred callers with a special code so that they can bypass the call screening process

Required: Caller ID and a Caller ID-capable phone. For audio announcement of incoming calls, you will need a speakerphone.
Recommended: Single Line Phone System

Note: this service is not compatible with Per-Line Blocking service, Flexible Call Forwarding, and Internet Call Waiting.
Benefits and Applications
Privacy Manager® puts you in control of your incoming calls. With Privacy Manager® you’ll

* Talk only to the people you want to
* Control who gets through
* Save time by avoiding unknown callers
* Send a “do not solicit” message to telemarketers without having to speak directly with them
* Allow preferred callers to bypass the service

Phone Harassment and How to Stop

Kids playing a prank? Someone trying to scare, warn, or threaten you? In any event, these calls are invasions of privacy, unwanted, and sometimes even frightening.

What makes a phone call harassing?

When someone calls and uses obscene or threatening language, or even heavy breathing or silence to intimidate you, you are receiving a harassing call. It certain states, such as California it is against the law to make obscene or threatening calls.

How often do I have to get these calls to make it harassment?

Just one unwelcome call can be harassing; but usually your local phone company will not take action unless the calls are frequent. However, if a call specifically threatens you or your family with bodily harm, the phone company will generally take immediate action.
Who should I contact when I get harassing calls?

Local phone companies have varying policies on whether to call the phone company or the police first. Some recommend that you first call the phone company’s business office and explain the problem. A representative will connect you with the “annoyance desk.” Other phone companies may require you to file a formal complaint with local law enforcement before they will deal with the matter. To find out what your phone company’s policy is, contact the business office and ask for assistance.

For serious threats, if life or property are threatened, or if calls are obscene, you should call the police and file a report. Provide as much information to law enforcement as you can. Indicate the gender of the caller and describe the caller’s voice. Note the time and date of the call(s). What did the caller say? How old did he/she sound? Did the caller seem intoxicated? Did he/she have an accent or speech impediment? Was there any background noise? Was a phone number/name displayed on the Caller ID device?

What can my local phone company do if I am receiving harassing calls?

If the calls are frequent or particularly threatening, the phone company can set up a “Trap” on your phone line. The Trap allows the phone company to determine the telephone number from which the harassing calls originate. You must keep a log noting the time and date the harassing calls are received. Traps are usually set up for no more than two weeks. The phone company does not charge a fee for Traps.

A phone company service called Call Trace may also be able to help track down harassing calls. Immediately after receiving a harassing call, you enter the code *57 on your phone and the call is automatically traced (1157 on rotary phones). Call Trace is easier than using a Trap since the customer does not have to keep a phone log. But Call Trace technology works only within the local service area. (Look in the “Customer Guide” section of the phone book or the phone company’s web site for a description of your local service area.)

Call Trace must be set up in advance by the individual receiving harassing calls, and it requires a fee for use. However, in situations where the phone company would ordinarily use a Trap, you might not be charged if the phone company suggests that Call Trace be used as an alternative. Be sure to ask.

The information collected from Call Trace or from a Trap is turned over to law enforcement personnel, not the customer. Law enforcement officers try to stop the harassing calls by either warning or arresting the harasser. With both Call Trace and a Trap, your phone conversations are not listened to or recorded by the phone company.
Is the phone company always able to solve harassing phone call problems?

No. If the caller uses a phone booth or multiple phone lines, the phone company and law enforcement officials may never get enough identification to take further action. In cases like these, changing your phone number might help. Also, you might want to get an unlisted or unpublished number. In addition, the tips listed below for discouraging other types of unwanted calls may be of help.

What can I do to stop harassing calls without going to the phone company or police?

First, simply hang up on the caller. Do not engage in conversation. Typical crank callers are seeking attention. You have “made their day” if you say something to them or express shock or anger.

If the silent treatment does not work, you might try putting a message like this on your voice mail system:

I’m sorry I/we can’t come to the phone right now but you must leave a message. I/we are receiving annoyance calls and the phone company has a trap on this line. If you do not leave a message I/we will assume that you are the annoyance caller and this call will be traced.

If you answer the phone and the harassing caller is on the line, another suggestion is to say: “Operator, this is the call.” Then hang up. Or say the word “trap,” what time it is and the date; then hang up.

What is the “pressure valve” strategy?

Some threatening calls are part of a larger pattern of abuse, such as stalking. Some experts recommend in these situations to get a new phone number, but keep the phone number being called by the harasser and attach a voice mail machine or message service to that line. Turn the phone’s ringer off and don’t use that phone line for anything other than capturing the calls of the harasser.

This is the pressure valve strategy. The harasser will continue to call the unused number and will think that he/she is getting through. Instead, you are simply using the number to gather evidence. You will want to save tape recordings of the calls.Get another phone number for your use, and be sure it’s unlisted and unpublished. Give the number to trusted friends and relatives only. Do not give it to your bank, credit card company or credit bureau. Put passwords on all of your phone accounts (local, long distance, and mobile). Tell the phone companies in writing that they must not disclose any account information to anyone but yourself, and only when the correct password is given.
What precautions can I take to prevent harassment?

Do not disclose personal information when called by someone you do not know. They might be checking out the residence for possible robbery or other crime. If the caller asks what number they have called, do not give it. Instead, ask them to tell you what number they dialed.

To prevent being targeted for obscene calls and heavy breathing, women should only list their first initial and last name in the phone directory. Having an unlisted number is another option.

Children should be instructed to never reveal information to unknown callers. Instead, they should be taught to record the caller’s name and phone number along with date and time.

Do not include your telephone number on the outgoing message of your voice mail service if you wish to keep your number private. By omitting your phone number from your message, you prevent random dialers and people with Call Return (explained below) from capturing this information.
How can I stop telemarketing calls?

The most effective and easiest way to prevent telemarketing calls is to register your home and personal phone number(s) with the National Do Not Call Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You may put your residential telephone number(s) including cellular numbers on the opt-out list starting July 2003. According to the FTC, registration with the Do Not Call list will reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive by 80%.

You can sign up for the Do Not Call Registry two ways:

* The FTC’s toll-free phone number is 888-382-1222 (TTY: 866-290-4236)
* Online registration is available at the FTC’s web site,

Sometimes my phone rings and there is no one on the line. What is happening?

Many people are frightened when they receive “hang-up” calls. They wonder if someone is harassing them, or if a burglar is checking to see if they are not home. In most cases, these calls are from telemarketers.

Many telemarketers use “predictive dialing” technology to call consumers. A computer dials many phone numbers in a short period of time. When an individual answers, the computer seeks a sales representative who is not occupied at that time and connects the call. If all of the sales reps are on calls, the consumer hears dead silence. These are “abandoned calls.”

Several devices claim to stop these calls, including Telezapper ( available in stores that sell consumer electronics.

If you are receiving many abandoned calls a day, you can call the annoyance department of your local phone company and ask that a Trap be placed on your line. In extreme situations, the phone company might be willing to contact the offending telemarketer and request that your phone number be place on its “do not call” list. If the repeated calls are from a malicious individual who is harassing you rather than a telemarketer, the phone company will report the number to law enforcement as described earlier.

A new California law requires telemarketers to limit abandoned calls to fewer than 1% of their total call volume effective January 2003.

What can I do to stop other kinds of unwanted calls?

Sometimes calls are annoying but are not serious enough to involve law enforcement as is necessary with either a Trap or Call Trace. These might include telemarketing sales calls, wrong numbers, overly aggressive bill collectors, and prank calls. There are several steps you can take to discourage such unwanted calls.

An answering machine or a voice mail service is one of the best ways to limit unwanted calls. Available for as little as $30, an answering machine records messages when you are not available and can also be used to screen your calls. Similar to an answering machine, a voice mail service or an answering service can also discourage unwanted calls.

Another product on the market is an attachment to the telephone called an “inbound call blocker.” It allows only those callers who enter a special numeric code onto their touchtone phone pad to ring through to your number. This device is highly effective in preventing unwanted calls. However, you must be certain to give the code to everyone you want to talk to. Even so, you could miss important calls from unexpected sources, like emergency services.

Several vendors sell such call screening devices. Check the web site of Privacy Corps ( or call (888) 633-5777. Other sources include Command Communications (, at (800) 288-3491; and Avinta ( at (800) 227-1782. No endorsements are implied.

In most areas of the country, Custom Calling services are available from the local phone company which can help limit unwelcome calls. However, before you sign up, look carefully at the services to be certain they will work in your situation and are worth the monthly fee. Also remember that many of these features only work within your local service area. Calls coming from outside the area might not be affected by these features. (Consult the “Customer Guide” section of the phone book or the company’s web site to find out the boundaries of your local service area.) Keep in mind, these services require a fee, either month-to-month or per-use. To avoid having to pay for call screening on an ongoing basis, consider purchasing a device that attaches to the telephone, such as the call screening devices mentioned above.

* Call Screen (*60): Your phone can be programmed to reject calls from selected numbers with a service called Call Screen (SBC Pacific Bell term; other phone companies might use a different name). Instead of ringing on your line, these calls are routed to a recording that tells the caller you will not take the call. With Call Screen, you can also program your telephone to reject calls from the number of the last person who called. This allows you to block calls even if you do not know the phone number. Most phone companies charge a monthly fee for this service.

Call Screen is not a foolproof way to stop unwelcome calls. A determined caller can move to a different phone number to bypass the block. Also, Call Screen does not work on long distance calls from outside your service area.

* Priority Ringing: You can assign a special ring to calls from up to 10 numbers – the calls you are most likely to want to answer. The rest can be routed to voice mail. There are ways callers can get around Priority Ringing when it is used as a screening tool. The harasser can switch phone lines and avoid the distinctive ring.
* Call Return (*69): This service allows you to call back the number of the last person who called, even if you are unable to answer the phone. Some people suggest that Call Return can be used to stop harassing callers by allowing you to call the harasser back without knowing the phone number. Use caution with this method of discouraging harassing callers, however, as it could actually aggravate the problem. This service is paid on a per-use basis.

Can I use Caller ID to stop unwanted calls?

With Caller ID, customers who pay a monthly fee and purchase a display device can see the number and name of the person calling before picking up the phone. Some people believe Caller ID will help reduce harassing or unwelcome calls. Others, however, raise privacy concerns about the technology since subscribers to the service can capture callers’ phone numbers without their consent.

To help consumers protect the privacy of their phone numbers, state public utilities regulators (for example, the California Public Utilities Commission) require local phone companies to offer number blocking options to their customers.

There are two blocking options to choose from. If the customer chooses Per Line Blocking (called Complete Blocking in California), their phone number will automatically be blocked for each call made from that number. If the customer chooses Per Call Blocking (called Selective Blocking in California), the phone number is sent to the party being called unless *67 is entered before the number is dialed. When the number is blocked by either of these methods, the Caller ID subscriber sees the word “private” or “anonymous” on the Caller ID display device.

Because of these blocking options, Caller ID is not likely to allow you to capture the phone number of the determined harasser. Most harassers will block their phone numbers or will call from payphones. However, Caller ID can be used by people receiving harassing calls to decide whether to answer. They can choose not to pick up calls marked “private” or numbers they don’t recognize.

A companion service to Caller ID, called Anonymous Call Rejection (ACR), requires an incoming call from a blocked number to be unblocked before the call will ring through. Use of this feature forces the harasser to disclose the number – by entering *82 – or to choose to not complete the call. But a determined harasser can get around this feature by using a payphone. This service can be added to a consumer’s local phone service for a fee or at no charge depending on the carrier. It is activated and deactivated with the touchtone code *77.

Do Not Call List Legal Loopholes

Unfortunately the Do Not Call List has some exceptions and Loopholes that allow telemarketers to continue to call. Ultimately whether you can be tele marketed to or not comes down to federal and state legislation.

  • Not all states have implemented the Federal Trade and Commission (FTC) DNC List.
  • The FTC DNC list only applies to INTER-state calls, not INTRA-state (or calls that occur within the same state).
  • Only 30 or so states have telemarketing legislation to help prevent intrastate calls.

The following list includes those which are classified as exempt from state do not call lists.

  • Debt collectors
  • Insurance companies
  • Newspaper publishers
  • Government agencies
  • Businesses calling established customers or at the customer’s invitation. The FTC defines a business relationship as one where the consumer has purchased, leased, or rented products or services from the company in the past 18 months.
  • B2B or Businesses soliciting other businesses
  • Charities
  • Politicians
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Companies with established business relationships with a consumer. A business relationship is defined by the FTC as one in which a consumer has purchased, leased or rented products or services from a company over the past 18 months.

So in a best case scenario, you participate in the FTC DNC list as well as your local state registry, and can still receive tele-marketing calls from those mentioned above. There are of course, many telemarketers who break the rules, which is why we have formed our site to help!

Lower Credit Card Interest Rate Scam

Telemarketers promoting to help lower your credit card interest rates. These calls, usually robocalls (computer autodialed), query users for interested in hearing more, upon which are transferred to a live agent to collect information including Name, Address, Credit Card Information, and in some cases the users Social Security Number. This scam is usually in place to collect the information to use for identity theft purposes.