Reducing Junk Mail and Telemarketing Privacy Intrusions

Discussion in 'privacy problems' started by Escalader, Jan 18, 2008.

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  1. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Hello:

    I was sent these edited ideas that originated on 60 minutes. I suspect many members would enjoy them but have no idea what forum they would fit in if any.

    please advise.

     
  2. MikeNash

    MikeNash Security Expert

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    I don't mind the odd telemarketing call, but we have a company (I'd name them and shame them, if I could recall their name) that keep calling us up at the office.

    They start off by telling us we're getting a credit on our next phone bill. This is of course nonsense. What they really mean is "If you decide to move to our phone service, we'll give you a $500 credit". His indirectness and deceptiveness annoys me.

    We have an Asterisk based phone system at our office. (For any SME with a bit of linux nous - get one - they rock). We have emu-themed holding music, which is fine for 10 seconds. More than a minute, and you want to gouge your eyes out.

    For testing purposes, we have a special extension. It plays the hold music, forever. Now it's used as our telemarketer extension.

    We've put this gentlemen (who gets rather aggressive about it) "through to the right person" who is "sure to be interested" several times now. In fact, close to 10 times over the last month. Each time he's on our telemarketer extension for 10-20 minutes and gets most annoyed.

    Finally, he got the message. We havent heard from him this week... but he's so rude and aggressive about what he's trying to sell, it's almost tempting to call them and ask why he hasn't called us...

    I'm not sure your phone trick with pressing the hash key (or Pound key if you're that way inclined works) but one phone trick I can share is deceptively simply:

    Everyone hates the computer answering stuff, right? The "Press 1 for accounts" is OK - but the whole "please say a few words to describe what you're looking for" part is just nasty.

    If you ever get one of these and the computer is talking to you, or asking you to say yes or no to questions, just swear. Violently. It takes about 10 menu choices to get an operator with our phone company, but if you say $#%$#%$# computer 3 times you get an operator :D

    Probably it's due to it figuring you're frustrated. Just remember folks - swear clearly so the computer understands you :)
     
  3. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Mike:

    Good grief! you are everywhere! What am I saying I'm here as well!:eek:

    I sometime have fun with the "you have won a contest" but need to answer a skill testing question! Then I deliberately foul up the answer, then they say oh well it doesn't matter you have won anyway! Then I say well no, I lost fair and square let someone smart win!

    I hang up in the middle of my sentence just to not be too rude:cool:
     
  4. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    If only there was a way to do the same culling of E-mail in the Bulk folder ( in which junk mail can be in the hundreds [in my case 500]).

    Still have to scan for legitimate mail that mistakenly makes it into the bulk folder-- what a pain!!
     
  5. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    There is a way.

    It depends on what sort of spam mail filter software you use and the rules it lets you set.

    I have my spam filter set so any spam sent my way NEVER gets logged anywhere it is deleted.

    What software do you use for dealing with spam?

    Outlook has it's own and there are many 3rd party packages that can do a good job if the user sets them up correctly.

    Can your set up allow you to id these 500+ emails as spam senders so they get blocked in the future?
     
  6. ethernal

    ethernal Registered Member

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    for the occasional user, i'd reccomend "spambayes" from sourceforge, excellent bayesan spam filter for ms outlook. after a little training, it correctly classifies spam/ham with very little supervision.

    anyone who has more than say 5 mailboxes would do well to get a scanning front/relay in front of their preffered mta running spamassasin/clamav
     
  7. steve161

    steve161 Registered Member

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    I really do not think any response is very effective because they have probably heard them all. However, the two I use are

    1) Thank God you called, I am really lonely.

    2) I'm surprised you got through, as this facility usually blocks incoming calls.
     
  8. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    Yes I can block 500 of these spammers but it does not take too much time to have them "replaced" by 500 other spammers (they sure know how to get into my mail as it is bundled with the DSL AT&T Browser I have, and it amazes me on how many [infinite?] spammers there really are out there).

    It becomes harder to scan through these spammers ( I do not open unknown mail) as other family members must also check to see if any of these e-mails are for them!! (somehow even though we have different addresses an occasional email seems to belong to one of them (using crafty and cleaver tricks using last or first names, business names which resemble companies we deal with ect.).

    I think I will have to learn to use 3rd party filters as you suggest.

    Perhaps this will mean paying a little extra to get non AT&T mail accounts. It will be worth it.

    Thanks for the info and suggestions--cortez

    To: ethernal--- thanks also for your added info--cortez
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2008
  9. Cloudcroft

    Cloudcroft Registered Member

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    I pick up the mail at the post office for the small business I manage, and receive lots of pre-approved credit card applications. I've been tearing them in half and leaving them in the trash can at the post office. No more!....these companies will now be getting their junk back in the mail. And I'm sure the postmaster at our small post office will appreciate it, as he has to empty the trash. Thanks for the tip.:D
     
  10. Franklin

    Franklin Registered Member

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    I may be wrong in the way I think email spammers work.

    Besides using a Dictionary Attack.
    Just by retrieving an email from your server let's the spammers know they have a live address.

    Spammers probably test their wares against the most widely used spam filters and send out zero day spam?

    Not much spam here as I use an app that can show and delete what emails are at my server.

    Even had a spam entitled "Postmaster - Undelivered Mail" the other day.Checked it's properties and deleted from the server.
     
  11. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Hi:

    I manage email and spam as follows.

    1) Non personal email like from a forum or a vendor purchase I direct to my web mail service at the ISP. There they scan for spam themselves and I can also build a block senders list. Also I can define not only a specific address but the domain it came from. I have that set to delete it before it ever reaches my in box.

    2) On personal email I happen to use Outlook and PC Tools Spam Monitor which has large variety of methods of blocking spam. Whole countries can be blocked, and it offers lists of bad spammers. As well I define only my own address list as acceptable senders. Not on list, email deleted before getting in my in basket.

    3) Nod 32 also scans my email in and out going.

    I have had say 3-5 slip through in last year.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. phillip559

    phillip559 Registered Member

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    Tell them you lost your job or are unemployed.

    They will leave you alone immediately because its no use wasting time on a person who can't afford the product/service.
     
  13. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    I like it! It will work!
     
  14. ccsito

    ccsito Registered Member

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    LOL :-*
     
  15. EASTER

    EASTER Registered Member

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    Google's Gmail used to be a nice break from Yahoo's blatant neglect and allowing spammers, as it still does, to run completely free & rampant on their servers around the clock in unlimited capacity etc.

    Now Gmail is opened up their servers to the same waste of space/bandwidth, but whats worse with Google, theres no way to to just SEND ALL SPAM TO TRASH automatcally like Yahoo, in Gmail you have to do that manually each time you access their/your account.

    That's their FREE business for ya.
     
  16. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I can't understand why home-users don't simply delete junk mail directly from
    the server (i.e. using pop3 not web based like gmail). I have no junk mail
    downloaded because I know (by the headers/subject) what's spam and delete it from the server. If in doubt I can preview the message on the server in plain text.
    I am using Frontgate MX which is no longer available, but there are others
    that do a similar job - I think PopPeeper is one.

    Check screenshot (sorry there was no mail).

    PS. For those using Ubuntu or Kubuntu, kshowmail does the same.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
  17. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Not sure I understand your point. I am not using gmail as my main email but when I log in via Webmail, I can see my normal inbox and a separate Junk folder. I don't really care about this junk folder, hardly ever check it and it does not bother me. Given the storage provided, I don't see how I could ever run out of storage. Besides any messages in there get deleted automatically after 30 days.
     
  18. cheater87

    cheater87 Registered Member

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    Only telemarketing call I enjoyed was a survey about the upcoming movies a few years ago.
     
  19. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Yes, this is the preferred way, use your ISP web service, set the spam options you want and forward any mail you want for history to your own PC. That way, the only mail on your PC is NOT ever spam.

    In outlook you click no copy saved on server. Whether they do it or not is another question.
     
  20. davidjschenk

    davidjschenk Registered Member

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    Hello, fellow members.

    I realize this thread has been dormant for quite a while and, since it drifted slightly away from its original theme of reducing junk mail (of the snail-mail variety) and telemarketing calls, my comments and suggestions that follow may become nothing more than another collection of lost bits in the (a)ether. Even so, on the off-chance that someone might read this and find it useful, I'll post it. Please be aware, though, that my advice for fighting junk mail only applies to the US, as different countries have different laws.

    Right--I'll start with how effectively to eliminate ALL junk mail. Getting rid of direct mailers' junk mail is actually very easy to do (I know because I have done it and have had almost no junk mail in over a year). Don't listen to Andy Rooney on Sixty Minutes--his suggested tactics, while cathartic, don't actually do any good. The following ones do.

    (1) The first thing to do is to put yourself on the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) opt-out list. This won't take care of everything, but it is a decent first step. Also, send "cease-and-desist" letters to all the big junk mailers in the country. I have attached .txt sample form letters for some of the more famous ones. The junkbusters webpage has an excellent guide to this:

    http://www.junkbusters.com/self.html#mail

    (2) After that, there will be some stubborn parties that will continue to send you unwanted mailpieces. Do not despair. You can force them to go away (on pain of fines and even the possibility of imprisonment if they don't quit). In the US Code there is a little-known provision ( 39 USC Section 3008 ) whereby the recipient of any commercial mailpiece can, under his or her own sole discretion, define that mailpiece as provocative and/or offensive and apply for what is called a US Postal Service "Prohibitory Order" against the mailer. The order goes into effect after a little more than a month, after which time any further commercial mailpieces from the mailer are now instances of pandering, which is a felony. You yourself do not need to pursue the case, though--the Postmaster General will do it all for you. You just forward the offending mailpiece to the Postmaster General at the Pricing and Classification Center in NYC, referencing the prohibitory order # and stating the day on which you received the mailpiece (and make sure you sign it), and they'll take from there. Also, no postage is needed for any of this. It's all completely free. I have attached a .txt copy of another person's explanation of how to use the form for seeking a prohibitory order, called USPS Form 1500. The direct link for downloading a .pdf of the form is:

    http://www.usps.com/forms/_pdf/ps1500.pdf

    I was forced to start using this method by one especially stubborn mailer and I enthusiastically attest to its remarkable effectiveness. One thing I must note: if the offending mail is, oh, say--an unsolicited credit card offer, you really, REALLY ought to remove, shred, and then throw away the detachable form for applying for the card. This will not prevent the prohibitory order from going through.

    Getting rid of telemarketers is much trickier, especially since some of them are felons who are running total scams and do everything they can to hide their real phone numbers and addresses (but often they still can be found). In my next post, I'll submit advice and files on how to stop the telemarketers (even the con artists).

    Yours in solidarity,

    David
     

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  21. davidjschenk

    davidjschenk Registered Member

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    More sample letters to direct mailers are attached here.

    ===============================

    Okay, now on to the telemarketers... (again, with a few exceptions my suggestions only work for US residents, unfortunately):

    (1) Get onto the DoNotCall list (duh).

    https://www.donotcall.gov/

    (2) Get a service called "Call Intercept" on your phone. This will block inbound calls from callers that do not have identifiable phone numbers. Using Call Intercept, you can custom-block up to twenty-five or so phone numbers so that you'll never hear from them again (ever). I generally reserve my Call Intercept blocking list for the con-persons (I will not call them "artists," as I see no artistry in what they do) calling with bogus credit card and/or auto warranty offers, etc. A favorite spoofed phone number of theirs is 000-000-0000. It was the very first number added to my block list. That one act alone cut my incoming telemarketing calls almost in half.

    (3) If you're an aggressive sort, as I am, also get a service called "Caller ID," which will let you know the number and, sometimes, the identity of the caller for inbound calls. This helps mightily with customizing your block list in Call Intercept.

    (4) Hop onto the net and google for and download a waveform file (.wav) of the three-tone beep that indicates a wrong number or disconnected line. You will want to use this file as the introduction to your new answering machine message (it's totally sneaky and it totally works). Record the .wav file onto your answering machine. (There's nothing fancy needed here--you put your answering machine next to your computer, press <record> on the machine, and then play the wave file on your computer. There--now it's recorded on your answering machine.) Immediately after the third beep, leave a very short (~2 seconds) verbal message announcing that the line is not disconnected, that this just your answering machine, and then stop recording your greeting. This totally fuddles the automated dialing software that telemarketers use. The software is designed automatically to detect the three-tone beep, immediately register it as a disconnected number, and blacklist it from all future calls (which is exactly what you want).

    One little warning: it also tends to fuddle friends and family who call you and they sometimes leave hilariously entertaining messages of profound confusion on your answering machine. It wouldn't hurt to tell your friends and family about your funky answering machine message ahead of time, so they know what to expect.

    (5) Some of the worst telemarketers will still get through, but you should reserve the precious space on you Call Intercept block list for the total con-men. For the ones that are actual legit (but obviously unscrupulous) businesses, like mortgage companies, there is a much, MUCH better way of eliminating them. Another little-known and rarely-used rule exists in the US Code that allows miffed recipients of unwanted calls to sue the caller in small claims court for $500 per call. If, after you invoke your rights under this act, they persist and call you say, ten times, that's $5000 they'll have to pay you (and actually, the judge can triple that if s/he sees fit). The cost of doing this is absurdly low, both in time and money, as you will see in a link I provide below. The act in question is called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. In my third message I will attach a .txt copy of it for those who enjoy reading up on the law.

    So far all I have ever had to do is mention the TCPA to the telemarketing representative, invoke my rights under it, and instruct them never to call me again. It has worked literally every time (with the legit businesses) simply because I am hitting them where they live--in their pocketbooks. I have never actually had to take a case to court yet. Not yet...

    The links for learning more about the TCPA of 1991 and how effectively to use it are:

    http://www.killthecalls.com/ (great site!)

    http://www.killthecalls.com/suing-telemarketers.html

    That second link gives all the instructions you'll need and the instructions are, in my opinion, admirably clear, explicit, and well-ordered.

    (6) [WARNING: #6 IS TIME-CONSUMING] Well, you do still want to get rid of those felonious con-men calling you, don't you? So what if they spoofed a bogus phone number on your Caller ID? This is the age of the internet; this is an era in which no one can ever really hide. When I get a telemarketing con, they are almost always pre-recorded messages. My first move is to add their number, be it spoofed or not, to my Call Intercept block list. That usually slows them down pretty effectively, but occasionally they'll call a few days later with a new spoofed number. I add that one, too. I keep doing this until the figurative arms race becomes too much of a pain for them, and generally they piss off.

    But I do not leave it there. Why should they go free? They're felons; they belong in prison. The FCC and the FTC exist for a reason and their employees are all making their livings off of our tax money; I don't want them sitting around, eating Ding-Dongs and playing online fantasy football all day when there are deeply immoral criminals on the loose in this country (okay, nowadays they're working overtime, actually, what with the ongoing "war on terrorism," but they do still have some time to address the complaints of us little guys). File detailed complaints with both the FCC and the FTC. The more complaints they get about any one telemarketing con, the more likely they are to act on it. Our power, where we have it, is in numbers and persistence. Nothing else will stop these people. Many internet resources exist for hunting down the real identity of a telemarketing con-person. Below are two of my favorites:

    http://whocalled.us/list/all/

    http://800notes.com/

    Like I said, our power is in numbers. These sites work for the same reason that Wikipedia works: collective intelligence blows individual intelligence away. The two sites above, supplemented by liberal and sneaky use of Google, helped me to build several very, very detailed files on some telemarketing con-people. The more accurate, detailed information you can find to put into your complaints with the FCC and FTC, the better the odds of the bastards eventually getting caught. Also, while many of these con-people are quite slick, they frequently exhibit almost breathtaking stupidity at certain points, making it surprisingly easy to find them (even their home addresses). This is the new beauty of the internet (long may she reign).

    Addresses for where to e-file your complaints with the FCC and the FTC are:

    http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/


    Still yours in solidarity,

    David

    P.S.: Because of methods 1-6, I have received a grand total of perhaps eight telemarketing calls in the past year ( June '07-June '08 ). I have received none in over a month. (About a month ago I finally got around to calling back this telemarketing mortgage company and invoking my rights under the TCPA--as far as I can tell, they pissed off almost immediately.)
     

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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  22. davidjschenk

    davidjschenk Registered Member

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    A copy of the actual TCPA of 1991 is attached in .txt format. Also, I have attached a copy of a form letter I use to all internet merchants with whom I do any kind of business. It seems to work.

    -David
     

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