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Under the theory that the economics of scam-spam calls only work out if good victims self select by not hanging up I have long considered it a civic duty to waste the scammers time.

In the past, I managed to keep a scammer on the phone for an hour or more simply by leaving it on speaker phone and making various "oh really, interesting tell me more" sounds while half paying attention. On more than a few occasions I eventually caused the scammer to either crack up laughing-- after I got tired of stringing them along and hit them with a devastating pun-- or freak out screaming at me.

But in the last two years I've _never_ been able to bait one out long enough for them to have scammed me if I had been an eligible mark and not for the lack of trying. The majority of the scam calls just end up hanging up before I ever get to a human, the majority of those that do make it to a human hang up as soon as they hear my voice. The majority of those that don't immediately hand up, do after a couple back and forth interactions.

"You've been selected to get $1000 back from the IRS for being a great taxpayer!" "Oh man, thats great!" <click>

"You've been selected to get $1000 back from the IRS for being a great taxpayer!" "Really? How did that happen?" <click>

"You've been selected to get $1000 back from the IRS for being a great taxpayer!" "Whos this again?" <click>

I'm wondering if they're now doing some kind of demographic profiling using my voice-- e.g. I don't sound enough like an aged or mentally impaired pensioner, or perhaps even have some kind of machine-learning time waster voice identification. ... or maybe there is some kind of meta-scam where someone is charging another scammer to handle these calls but aren't actually doing the work.

Regardless, I'd like to encourage all of you to do your civic duty and waste a scammers time. It can be done with very little effort on your part and it almost certainly protects real potential victims (even with my frequent hangups, my actions are almost certainly extending protection via false positives, if nothing else). I have confirmed that these actions have not increased or decreased the rate of scam calls I get relative to my SO who doesn't engage in this practice (because she simply does not answer unrecognized numbers at all).




> Under the theory that the economics of scam-spam calls only work out if good victims self select by not hanging up I have long considered it a civic duty to waste the scammers time.

I used to immediately hang up upon receiving these spam/scam calls, but they kept coming, and I decided to do this approach.

I once got a spam call from a "credit card rate reduction" scam and I was so pissed at being interrupted so I decided to play along. I gave them a fake credit card number (that checksums right with the Luhn algorithm, there's a website that generates such fake "credit card numbers"), fake expiration date, fake zipcode, fake SSN, and fake name. Of course, they were unable to charge that "card", so the first-level scammer escalated me to his boss (not kidding). The boss asked for my bank's customer service number -- I imagine so they could pretend to be me and try to finesse the bank into letting the transaction happen. I gave them some random police department dispatch phone number, and she places me on hold. She comes back on the line, literally incandescent with rage after she called the number, and she screamed at me "I talked with the police department, they gave me your address, see you soon, bye bye" and hung up.

That caused the number of spam/scam calls i receive to go down noticeably. These people don't respect any sort of do-not-call lists but I think they may place you on internal do-not-call lists if you waste their time and infuriate them enough.

Couple months later, I got another “interest rate reduction” scam-call, and the guy doesn't waste time with the social-engineering; he straight-up opens by asking me for my credit card number and expiration. I decide to meet fire with fire, and I ask “what name do you show on the account”, he replies “it’s your name”. I pointedly ask “can you read it out for me” so he yells at me: “don’t waste my fucking time, you mother fuck” and hangs up. After I did so, I barely get any spam/scam calls at all -- maybe once every two weeks. It's pretty incredible how a little trolling saved me so much annoyance.

Reminder; never give any personal information to people calling about your credit-card/bank-account no matter who they claim they are. Always HANG UP and dial the number as printed on your payment card, these scamming shits always spoof caller-ID.


I was getting the "Mexico vacation" scam calls several times a day. It took me about 10-15 times wasting 20+ minutes of their time before they took me off. I get different ones now, though, and I usually get them when I don't have time to waste their time.

I once got the credit card interest rate scam (by "card services"), and the 3-level guy got so pissed at me for wasting his time he redirected his complaint line to my number. I would pick up to hear swear words and other things. I had to unplug my landline for an hour.

I contacted AT&T, because a lawyer I talked with said that was the right way to deal with this, and I was blown away how little shits they gave and how much BS they tried to get me to do. I canceled that landline soon after.


Where I am, there isn't really a problem with robocalls and not many scam calls, thankfully, but I still refuse to give out details over the phone, especially if they rang me.

I'm still shocked at the amount of times I got legit calls from my bank that start off with "please confirm your details". No, YOU confirm your details. I always tell them sorry, I have no proof that they are who they say, but they usually just say "No problem, call us back on the number on the back of your credit card" or somesuch, which is fine. I just wish they said that right away and didn't ask to confirm details, since it makes scammers lives easier.


My good bank has a password. I actually usually can't remember what it is, but that's fine since it's their password and I'll recognise it when they say it. "Oh, that's right! You _are_ the bank"

But they never proactively asked me to set that up, it's just that I went around this "I can't authenticate to you first, so I'll have to phone you" loop and I pointed out it would work better with a password when I called them back and to my surprise they were like "Yes, we can do that, what password should we say?" and set it up immediately.

So, worth asking I guess?


Interesting. I’ll have to try next time.


I would not suggest people try to waste scammers time, or do anything but hang up on them. A lot of calls that just hang up on you are putting out the feelers for phone numbers that have humans answering on the other line so that they know that's a viable target for attempting to scam. Showing any sign that your phone number belongs to an actual human just ups the chances that you're going to get an increased amount of phone spam, regardless of if you got the chance to waste someone's time or not. Also, people should be wary of saying anything at all the these suspicious phone calls, some of them try to get recordings of you saying some key words to make it easier to steal your identity. For instance, if someone asks if you are who you are by name and you say yes, then they've got decent confirmation that they've got a recording of a particular person saying "yes" which can be used against you in stealing your identity or credit card fraud.


To avoid "yes" recordings, I answer the phone with "<indistinct garble> speaking!" When I hear a human I adopt a creaky old-person voice. This old person tends to give their credit card information slowly, and remember that they're using the wrong card after about 14 digits.

Eventually I change back and tell the person that they're working for a fraudulent business and should worry about whether they're going to get paid, and should strongly consider getting a new job.


> This old person tends to give their credit card information slowly, and remember that they're using the wrong card after about 14 digits.

Give the full number and an expired date and go "oh.. this is my old card... I'm sorry... give me a moment, I need to look for my new one1'


> A lot of calls that just hang up on you are putting out the feelers for phone numbers that have humans answering on the other line so that they know that's a viable target for attempting to scam.

I also thought that might be the case but have performed the comparison between a number which never answers them and a number which always answers them. Several years now of experience suggests otherwise: they get the same number of spam calls.

> that they've got a recording of a particular person saying "yes"

Again, this sounds highly speculative. Do you have any citation for it? It isn't like any bank or service is comparing your voice. And if all they needed was a yes, unfortunately, there are too many ways of getting a yes from someone.

Obviously when talking to any of these scammers my 'identity' is entirely fictional.

When they used to be more responsive I had a lot of fun trying to convince them that my routing number was "1" and that my account number was "1"... Or that my name was some absurd 40 character compound name like "Jim Klenersmithvelazquezouishawexlereconomou". A friend once kept a caller from "windows" on the line for an enormous amount of time while they "restored" their system via a recovery disk after it "crashed" several times attempting to "install" their malware.


I’m super paranoid that some shady company is harvesting the voiceprints purely for malicious purposes or training an AI.

I used to simply reply with “Ola?” but now I just let GV screen the call.


Keeping them on the phone tends to work less these days (not for lack of trying, some youtuber managed to keep them on the line for 5 hours at one point); they scam centers are starting to have limits on call time, after 1 hour the call simply disconnects.




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