25 March 2010

But did he ever accidentally connect to WOPR while he was at it?

Ars Technica | Nate Anderson | FTC claws back robocaller's Porsche, Lexus, and Florida home

If you lived in the US two or three years ago, you probably got the call: "The factory warranty on your car expires soon! We can help!" In fact, you probably got more than one. (I received a dozen or more.) The callers suggested that they were affiliated with car companies or local dealers and that they were offering legitimate extended warranty products; both of these were misrepresentations.

The robocalling was so blatant that it ignored most existing Do Not Call rules and dialed just about everyone in the country—over and over—including 911 operators. Some dialers didn't even bother to use phone number databases, instead just doing brute force dials that began with 111-111-1111 and incrementing by one, then doing it all again after hitting 999-999-9999.

This was not an approach notable for its subtlety, and the massive call volume was basically certain to bring down the wrath of the Federal Trade Commission.

I hope telemarketers are forced to spend all eternity waiting in lines next to people who are having very loud, very vapid conversations on their cellphones in public places.  They deserve each other.

Technical question: why can't I set up a blacklist of phone numbers I don't want to receive calls from the same way I can set up a blacklist of email addresses to ignore? Is there an technical reason this would be difficult, or do phone companies just not bother because they aren't under enough competitive pressure?

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