Last Updated on October 29, 2018 by Dave Farquhar
I haven’t received a fake Windows tech support call in a very long time. A couple of the operations doing this have been shut down, but based on the continued popularity of the things I’ve written about them, I wonder if some people are still getting them.
That makes me reluctant to block them, just in case they call me again, but if you’re getting those calls and want them to stop, I can tell you how to do that.
The universal way
The universal way to do this is to get a device that blocks scam and other unwanted calls. This works on any type of landline or VOIP phone.
The simultaneous ring way
If you have a VOIP telephone service like AT&T U-Verse or Verizon FIOS that supports simultaneous ring, sign up for a free service called Nomorobo. It’s free for consumers; they make their money by charging businesses for the service. Businesses are more than willing, as it cuts down on unsolicited sales calls that waste employee’s time.
The potential downside with this is that you’re routing all of your incoming calls to a third party, and what they do with that information is beyond your control. If you’re doing nothing wrong and everyone who legitimately calls you is doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about of course, but it’s a legitimate privacy concern. The ideal would be for the phone companies themselves to offer this service–they’re already logging that information anyway–but for whatever reason, they just don’t want to do it.
Nomorobo works by applying spam filtering techniques to phone calls. Now that I’ve said it, that’s an obvious idea, but Aaron Foss was the first person to turn that seemingly obvious idea into a workable implementation. The harder part was figuring out how to implement it when phone companies didn’t want to offer it and didn’t want anyone else to offer it either. There’s a growing need for the service, too–Foss says 20% of phone calls placed today are robocalls, and the number is increasing.
I’m hesitant to try this, at least for now, because people seem to enjoy reading my recollections of phone conversations with these scammers. If and when I do, of course, I’ll share my experience with it. The other upside is that it probably will block political robocalls as well as scammers. If you’ve tried Nomorobo and would like to share your experiences with it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.