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back to article TalkTalk to block nuisance calls with no help AT ALL from Huawei

TalkTalk is extending its HomeSafe brand from the telco's broadband service to its fixed phone lines by adding network-level filters that will hang up on nuisance calls. But the company told The Register today that - unlike its broadband HomeSafe system - this particular filtering technology has been developed without the help …

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I am still awaiting the ability to block every international number from calling me as the only international calls I get are from all the marketing companies that off-shored just to get round the TPS

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Unfortunately, it's not technically possible without a lot of faff. You can 'spoof' the CLID with little effort, or simply provide no CLID for a start, so blocking based on a CLID beginning with 00 is no real use. Likewise with modern IP based systems many domestic calls may well be routed through a cable that is outside of the UK's borders, so basing it in what route a call comes from is useless.

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Joke

When I read the headline I thought Talk-Talk was going to close it's own (cold) call center so I wouldn't get any nuisance calls from them.

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It would be nice if every telco blocked the obviously spoofed caller-IDs, get loads of calls from '0', '00' and non-existent area codes like '0356'...

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A call from 00 356 .......is the country code for Malta. so like the callers above it an offshore calling farm

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A telco (like Talk Talk) shouldn't have to rely on the presented number that is used for CLI, they will be able to see the real calling number, and so should be able to do blocking on a much more accurate basis.

It would also be nice if there was some callback number that I could ring after getting a nuisance call to have that call's real number flagged, even if I don't get to see what the number is. If enough people flag any given number it could be invesitigated.

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You are wrong

It's clear you don't know how voice conmuting works.

You get a record with the cli, and it is mostly the same you get in your phone.

Only calls that originate from your network can be traced back.. with effort (think BIG DATA).

For external calls, you just know the call type and the trunk: the rest can be forged. Not that you care, as you are just going to charge the other telco the same...

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Re: You are wrong

It's clear you don't know how voice conmuting works.

I do, actually, I've worked with SS7 software stacks.

You get a record with the cli, and it is mostly the same you get in your phone.

No, at the switch level you you get one or more ISUP packets containing the calling party number, or numbers if it has been forwarded. Those packets will have a parameter set to indicate whether the number can be presented to the called party as "CLI". If the bit isn't set the number won't be presented, but the receiving telco will still have the packet(s), and will still know the number(s), so it has an advantage over customer-premises call blocking equipment. There is no need to do any "tracing back", the data is provided for you in the signalling channel.

For external calls, you just know the call type and the trunk: the rest can be forged

Yes, it can be forged, but so what? If 200 people all report nuisance calls, and they all have calling number "999999999", you block all future calls with that number. You don't need to identify a real caller, just use the number as supplied. If the number purports to be from, say, London and it comes in on the international trunk, you can also choose to drop it as an obvious forgery. You don't need to identify a real caller, just make a decision based on the number as supplied.

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I frequently receive 'number-withheld' calls where there is no sound on the line. Are these the type of nuisance calls referred to on the article as ooposed to someone with a grudge against me?

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No, that's a computer ringing you up, waiting for something that doesn't sound like an answer phone, and then begins playing you it's spiel, whether it's "Congratulations, you have won ....", "Have you been mis-sold PPI?..." or "Your mobile contract may benefit from renewal...". Either way, hoping you press the correct button to be connected to someone, with a similar hope that you can then either be scammed out of some cash, or scammed out of some personal information that can be sold on further.

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Mr

I say hello etc, but I do not hear any sound. So, I guess that is someone with a grudge?

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Re: Mr

That sounds like harassment to me. If there happens to be someone sensitive in your household, who gets easily worried by this (happened to an ex) - you should report the calls as a crime to your telco. Number withheld will not help them; they can be traced and told to stop it.

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Re: Mr

"I say hello etc, but I do not hear any sound. So, I guess that is someone with a grudge?"

Possibly, but unlikely. The usual cause is that outbound call centres doing legitimate (but usually unsolicited) selling use computer diallers that schedule the next call before there's a drone ready to handle the call (to keep the oiks noses against the grindstone, and improve productivity). If no drones are available when the call is answered then the dialler just drops the call. The use of recorded messages makes things a little more complex, but scammers make more use of recorded messages than cold sales callers - for a scammer, the recorded message acts as a filter that ensures the connected calls are to the stupid, for the sales callers they want human to human communication, so the last thing they want to use is a recorded message to cause people to ring off.

There's various reasons that the dialler and the drone availability get out of synch, such as all the drones clearing off to lunch, a team meeting, or operators taking longer to clear the previous call, or simply a crummy scheduler.

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Whilst I applaud TalkTalk's noble aim, I can't see it stopping many of the scammers. At our place, we get calls from:

- Invalid phone numbers

- Fake phone numbers,

- Number withheld.

We've also experienced one UK outfit using a DDI block for outdialing. We're thinking of putting a bar on a block of 100 numbers which all appear to come from one marketing/scamming company.

We don't get many presenting an International phone number, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Will they block themselves?

Despite being on TPS, and flagged as Don't Ever Call Me in the TalkTalk account settings, these 'fingers' keep calling asking if I want to upgrade my account or sign up to their streaming movie service.

I don't get any other marketing calls. Only TalkTalk.

The most effective thing they can do to reduce spam and nuisance calls is to obey their own marketing opt outs and adhere to TPS sign ups.

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Re: Will they block themselves?

keep calling asking if I want to upgrade my account

If you're an existing customer of a company, the TPS rules don't apply.

TPS only applies if the company has never had any dealings with you.

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Re: Will they block themselves?

Is there a pre-filtering device that will sit between your phone and the wall socket, then pickup the call and quckly see if it is from a witheld number or from a list of numbers that you have provided it with, then end the call and not pass it on to your phone?

How about someone develops such a device using the popular Raspberry Pi, or similar, to do the work and provide a USB or network interface to control and monitor it from your computer.

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Re: Will they block themselves?

"Is there a pre-filtering device that will sit between your phone and the wall socket"

I think that was possible with the old I/O cards from Creative - check number on list, connect/not connect/play answer machine

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Re: Will they block themselves?

CLI is passed over the line *before* the ring current, so it would be theoretically possible for a nifty device to check the calling number and prevent the phone from ringing. Doubtless an RPi device would contravene some law or other.

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Re: Will they block themselves?

"Is there a pre-filtering device that will sit between your phone and the wall socket, then pickup the call and quckly see if it is from a witheld number or from a list of numbers that you have provided it with, then end the call and not pass it on to your phone?"

Yes. Which? had a review of some a few months back. Generally speaking they worked well, but none are perfect (eg blocking "caller withheld" numbers could stop your doctors' from calling you, or new nuisance numbers need to be added manually). Expect to pay fifty to a hundred quid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they block themselves?

Or you could just not answer anything without CLID or not in your address book. Not perfect but works at least as well as anything else. Probably the best way to get yourself blacklisted by cold callers and marketers is do what I did. I was getting lots of silent calls from a withheld number which I ignored in the hope they would stop, (they didn't).

So finally I answered one and held on until I got some sales drone from my mobile phone company. As soon as they identified themselves I said "hey I'm glad you called, could you just hang on a moment and I'll be right back". So having left a radio on in the background to let them know the line was still up I walked away and came back every five minutes or so asking them to hold on. I kept that mouth breather on the line for over 30 minutes until they gave up. Must have shot their call target to shit, and I never got another call ever again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they block themselves?

There is such a device - it's called "trueCall". It was on Dragons' Den a few years back. I have one and it is excellent. It's not cheap but worth every penny. I used to get quite a lot of nuisance calls but now I get almost none, and each one I do get, I never get again. Now if only there was a solution for my mobile that was as simple to use...

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Re: Will they block themselves?

There is a device called TrueCall, you can find them on Amazon. Also BT have a number of 'phones aimed at older people (they have large buttons, amplifiers and even built in induction loops) which do the same thing.

I know the telephone works well as I have one although some numbers do still slip through.

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Thumb Up

Re: Will they block themselves?

Yep, CPR Call Blocker. You can specify what to block, witheld numbers, international, skpe, etc and specific numbers. If someone calls and you don't like them, just press the button on the unit and it adds the number to the block list. Maplins do them for about £40.

Phil.

p.s. You need Caller ID enabled.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they block themselves?

"How about someone develops such a device using the popular Raspberry Pi"

TruCall (as seen on Dragons Den) has been mentioned; has the cost of their subscription service been mentioned?

The geekpowered Pi-based option I know of is BananaPhone:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3152

and

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/02/robocalls-are-annoying-so-this-man-is-using-raspberry-pi-to-stop-them/

"With Banana Phone, callers are asked to enter a four-digit authentication code to prove they're human. This passes the call to the live line, and the validated Caller ID is stored in a local whitelist. Your friends only have to type the code in once."

That sounds like a nice simple idea that gets nicely around the "my useless hospital/doctor/police(etc) can't be arsed setting up a presentation CLI so we have to allow withheld numbers" argument.

It's actually Linux/Asterisk/MySQL based, so RasPi is convenient but by no means essential.

Disclaimer: I don't know anything more about it than the headlines.

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Re: Will they block themselves?

"Is there a pre-filtering device ... How about someone develops such a device using the popular Raspberry Pi..."

There is such a system that runs on RaspberryPi (or other linux system) Google for "raspberrypi asterisk"

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: I had a call from TalkTalk

Tesco mobile went through a phase of sending me text messages telling me how wonderful Tesco mobile are. I told them to stop and it took a few angry calls before they slowed down and did stop. Apparently, their marketing department ignore any customer request not to send 'promotional' texts, because they can.

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Re: Will they block themselves

an OBI110 and the raspberry pi running astrix, My line ask the caller to press 1 to continue, 99% of crap never gets thru, and the 1% that does is logged making reporting easy :)

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Anonymous Coward

Hmph

Scammers are coming through the front door!! Quick! Board up the windows!

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Trollface

"TalkTalk has led the way on network-level filtering in Blighty - with help from Huawei"

No security problem there, no sir.

You see, Huawei is a wholly-pwned subsidiary of the NSA, so everything is fine.

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Anonymous Coward

"It harvests every URL visited by every TalkTalk customer and then follows them to each web page and scans for threats, creating a master blacklist and whitelist of dangerous and safe URLs."

I ban the Talk Talk bots on the sites I manage as they often create more traffic than the legitimate Talk Talk user.

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Why wouldn't they block...

Something like a debt collection agency, if that is what a large number of their customers want? It seems, at least to me, that they've somehow missed the bit where they are supposed to provide service to their customers rather than dictating what their peasants will get.

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TPS version?

As well as blocking the most obvious scammers, why not add a second list, which would hold details of otherwise "legit" sale outfits, but who ignore the TPS rules? With such a list, TPS subscribers could opt to have any numbers on that list barred as well. Who knows, as well as the immediate effect, it might actually persuade more of them to actually scrub their sales lists against the TPS!

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Re: "Is there a pre-filtering device that will sit between your phone and the wall socket"

well, I've been thinking much about something like this!

A device that counts say 10 'rings' of an incoming call before the bell (or other sounder) rings out appears to be a simple and good filter for these pests.

Now, not wishing to breach the rules about attaching non-approved electrical/electronic equipment directly to the Phone line, I'm trying to develop a 'ring tone' detector which uses the ring tone 25Hz current in the wires with some sort of 'clip-on' sensor.

Anyway, if these calls are answered, the telco collects it's fee and I really think they don't deserve this at all for permitting these calls in the first place.

+1 for all International call blocking as well as withheld numbers

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Anonymous Coward

I guess they're trying to do for voice calls what the mobile operators do for sms spam with their 7726 services, which sounds good on paper as that's easy to use. Trouble is, the TalkTalk service requires you to (1) report it via an online form and (2) know the number that called you. If the number is withheld, well...

http://www.talktalk.co.uk/help/report-scam.html

What would have been newsworthy is if they allowed users to call 7726 and press 1 to effectively say 'the last number that called this line was a miscreant'.

More spin from the TalkTalk department of hot air.

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The phone ringer is the spam indicator here.

Around here, it's getting to the stage that if the phone rings, it's someone selling something, or someone who isn't sellling anything but wants to tell you about a great deal, or a competing carrier drilling for business, or the local polititian trying to sell their particular brand of bullshit, or asking for donations, or a pest control outfit trying to tell us our area is absolutely infested with some type of bug.

How I long for the days for an elderly relative telling us the entire drawn-out story of how their toe got infected because they used to wear a particular brand of shoe that was only available at one shop where the shopkeeper was their cousin's next door neighbour's daughter's ex-boyfriend who also had an infected toe, but this was from a dog bit that happened some years earli.... Sorry, got carried away, at least it isn't spam.

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Not all MPs are useless

A LibDem MP seems to be the instigator of this: http://www.no2nuisancecalls.net/news and has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuisance Calls which has just issued a report - inevitably a bit wordy and includes the likes of BT contributing feeble excuses for doing nothing (no surprise there) and the DMA trying to make out that unsolicited marketing calls provide a valuable service to consumers (my arse they do).

But it is at least good to see Talk Talk and Parliament doing SOMETHING about the problem. Lets hope it's not as utterly useless as the TPS set up in 1999 as a response to consumer pressure. Those registered with TPS now get MORE unwanted calls than unregistered users, the monthly crop of thousands of complaints to TPS are a monumental waste of time, just not worth making the effort, the total number of prosecutions after 14 years of operation is still in single figures.

Don't waste any effort on the clever tricks to waste the callers time, they are earning peanuts, your hourly rate is higher than theres especially the off-shore callers who can be on under a dollar an hour.

What I do is let all calls with an unrecognised CLI go to answerphone. Currently running at around 10 a week.

If TalkTalk were willing to be a load more aggressive I'd switch to them. What I mean by more aggressive is if I could make a callback (like the mobile phone text scam number) to say "I want no more calls from the number that just called". I don't want them to be overriding my decisions about what is legitimate and what I consider a nuisance. As it is their offering is a positive step but still feeble.

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