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That seems like an odd way to run a phone system. Couldn't I keep someone from making any outgoing calls just by calling them once, and leaving my phone off the hook?

It varies a lot, or at least it used to. Keeping the phone line open and expecting a callback is a scam so classic it's even in the first edition of "Practical Unix (now "and Internet") Security" in the section on securing your modem pool.

It's very frustrating hearing someone walking around when they think they've disconnected but they haven't.

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