Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fighting Blog and Email Spam

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Email Spam

I got my first email address with Hot Mail back in the 1996 or early 1997, I also opened a Yahoo Mail around the same time period…but gave it up just to resurrect a new one around 2007, I still use both today..  By 1998, I had a email server going at the Library, and all full time staff “HAD” to use it.  It was like pulling teeth for the first year.  By the year 2000 communicating via email was standard for everyone in the library, but only a few part time workers were issued a library email address.  Only problem was, by 2001, email spam was killing us, so I started a black list (blocking list) which cut down the spam a lot, and subscribed to a service by 2003 which cut it down even more.  Today, most email services have automatic spam controls, and for those few that get through, you can add them to your spam list real easy and future spams will go right into the spam box.

Email Spam Box

Only problem is, sometimes a GOOD EMAIL gets into the spam box, so you have to monitor it all the time.  Above is a portion of my spam mail box…about half way down you can see one from TWITTER, which I clicked, and it was a good email about a recent logon attempt I did from my computer…so it turned out to be nothing.  However, I have found important emails in the spam box many times.

Different Email Companies

I have two other email accounts…a Gmail and our GoingRvWay email.  Both of these automatically send all email to my yahoo account, all I need to do is go into these to accounts a few times a year and clear out the inbox.  My Hotmail account became my “junk” account very quickly back in the ‘90s.  I still use that account when I have to give an email out to someone or some entity that I don’t want to give my good email to.  In other words, it is all junk….I just clear it all out a few times each year.  My hope is that by the end of this decade, PHONE SPAM will have gone away much like the email spam has.  Yes, I still get email spam, but it is nothing that bothers me anymore…I don’t have to wade through mass amounts of emails just to read the few good ones like I use to have to do.

Blog Spam

Blog comment spam, on the other hand, has grown.  You followers rarely see any of the blog comment spam because most of it gets caught before hitting the blog page…and those few that do, I move to spam very quickly.  This means I have monitor the blog a few times each day.  However, up until earlier this year, all of the comments, good and bad, were sent to my email…but blogger made a change and I don’t get those emails anymore.  I have been writing this blog since March 2012.  I have now written 917 blog postings (counting this one).  I have had around 3,000 comments, and nearly 300 spam comments.  The problem is over 200 of these spams have come just in the past 15 months.  These folks are ruthless.  Here are a few examples below:

Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page  Travel medical insurance Protect Travel is a travel insurance company. Get your Travel Insurance with xxxxxxxxxx and Never leave your home without a Travel Insurance, get yourself Insured Now!    (link removed)

For more information on mesotherapy treatment gurgaon, please visit our website at: http://www.xyxyxyxyxyxyxyxy.html  (link removed)

Someone Sometimes with visits your blog regularly and recommended it in my experience to read as well. The way of writing is excellent and also the content is top-notch. Thanks for that insight you provide the readers! xxxxxxx travel agents (link removed)

Hey there, How is your marriage going? Be honest…how is it ACTUALLY going? If you’re reading this e-mail right now, then chances are your marriage isn’t what it used to be… and maybe it’s so bad, that you feel like your world is falling apart. You feel like all the passion, the love, and romance have completely faded. You feel like you and your wife can’t stop yelling at each other. And maybe you feel that there’s almost nothing you can do to save your marriage, no matter how hard you try. But you’re wrong. You CAN save your marriage — even if your wife says she wants to get a divorce. You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time. If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then do yourself a favour and watch this quick video that will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging the most important  (link removed)

I Hate Spam

Friday, October 12, 2018

Combating Spam Calls

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Spam Calls

The FCC’s website says, “Unwanted calls – including illegal and spoofed robocalls - are the FCC's top consumer complaint and our top consumer protection priority.”  I have  been following the “Robocall Task Force” for a few years now, and the FCC has instituted the following to help stop these calls:

  • Issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement actions against illegal robocallers {spam callers}.
  • Allowing phone companies to block certain types of calls that are likely to be unlawful before they even reach consumers.
  • Empowering consumers to use call blocking or labeling services for calls to their telephone number.
  • Working to develop ways that phone companies can authenticate Caller ID to reduce illegal spoofing.
  • Making our complaint data available to enable better call blocking and labeling solutions.

However, the number of spam calls, as I call them, are up this year over last…and last year 30.5 billion spam calls were made in 2017, up from the previous record of 29.3 billion in 2016.  The number one way to stop these calls is by not answering calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately…but your number will certainly be fed into a “good phone number” database that these type of calls are searching for.

Some phones, like the Apple Phone, have a way to block bad calls immediately after they call you…that must be nice.  Verizon, our carrier, will allow you to block up to three, yes only 3, phone numbers for up to 3 months…and you can re-enter the numbers over and over and over…but that is not very good as far as stop spam calls, although I have used it to stop a few very persistent spam callers.  And Smart Phones can use phone apps which will also block calls…some of the better ones will block calls that many other people using the same app are blocking…these are called black lists.  But, if you have a dumb phone, as we choose to use, you are pretty much out of luck…but there is one way you can survive…

Zspam              Zspam

What Marcia and I do is we add all spam calls to our contact list.  We name the contact as “Zspam#”, with the number getting larger and larger.  We start with the letter “Z” so that they will always show up at the end of our contact list, which we can easily get to by going backwards instead of forwards when we browse through our contacts.  Each contact can hold 5 phone numbers.  And this is the important part…we set each of these spams as a “NO RING”…so WHEN they call a second time, and most of the time they will, the phone will just let out one short yet low pitched “beep” after the call is not answered.  When that happens, we don’t feel pressed to have to answer or not answer the phone…we already know it is spam.  However, sometimes they will leave a message…and that does make a noise…but most of the time they don’t.


Then on Monday ALL HELL broke loose.  At 9:18 am my phone goes off.  I don’t know them, I don’t answer, but they leave a message.  “Hi Pam, this is Jason from Quicken Loans needing to talk to you about the loan application you filled out, please call me at….”.  Of course, I add this to my spam list.  By noon I had 15 of these type of calls.  By the end of Thursday, I had 90…yes 90 of these spam calls.  Today, I had to do something about it.

Google Phone Number Search

I had started putting the numbers into Google, and never did the number give the company name, even when the company left a message.  Messages revealed that the companies were Ameritrade, Quicken Loans, Reality Debt Solutions, Secure Rights, LoanDepot, etc.  So this morning I called Quicken Loans from the toll free number they advertise in google.  I tell the person my situation, give her the phone number they called from, and the toll free number they told me to call back on, but she did not recognize either phone number…and told me it may be a fraud.  So I called the toll free number they left in the message, and got transferred to Kim.  She said, “If you give me your phone number I will look it up.”  I was calling on our Skruffy Phone, the pay by the minute phone that we put on Skruffy’s back when I leave the Condo so if Marcia falls down, Skruffy will run over to her, and she has instant access to a phone.  I also dialed *67 before I put in the phone number, so they won’t have access to Skruffy’s Phone number.  I kept telling Kim that unless I knew for sure that I was talking to Quicken Loans, I was not going to give out any of my information.  I finally got her direct line, which she said the last five digits is her extension number.  I then called the Quicken number found in Google, put in her extension, and sure enough, it was her.  I gave her my phone number…and five hours later, no more spam calls.  I also did the same for Ameritrade Mortgage, Reality Debt Solutions, etc. 

Spam Database

Now to get all this done, I first made a database of the various phone numbers that I was called from, then I sorted it.  Next I entered the numbers from each of the 90 phone calls that came in the past four days, and then I sorted that list.  Those numbers which called back repeatedly, I called on the Skruffy Phone with *67 at the start, and either the number was not recognized as a good number, they did not answer, or most of the time, I got the name of the company that called.  I then tried to find a good number in Google for that company, and proceeded to do the same thing I did with Quicken.  Twice the only way I could communicate was through a online submission from their website…and of course, they demand a name, phone number and email address.  Well, I used Pam’s name, I used the phone number they called me from, and used as the required email address.  In the comments area I explained the situation, told them to stop calling (gave my real phone number) and informed them that if I get another call from them, the FCC would be notified (there is a online way to tell the FCC that I have used before).

The interesting this is that many of the calls came from the 727 prefix, which is our prefix.  I asked the lady at Quicken how this is done, and she said that they have phones numbers all over the country that they can use.  People are more likely to answer a call from their own prefix than from a 800 number, or a prefix from some major city far away.  She said all their phone representatives are there in Michigan where she was.  One thing I had read about a year ago is that the spam callers, those who are calling without you initiating the phone request (or in my case, where someone gave the wrong number) … that these spam callers are also using local prefixes.  I have been collecting these Zspam numbers for a couple of years now, with over 400 phone numbers now.  In the first 50, only 5 had the 727 prefix.  In the last 50, 35 had the 727 prefix.  Talking to our neighbor a few weeks ago she said that she only answers the local calls…I think I have her convinced to not answer anything she does not know…if it is someone she needs to talk to, they will leave a message.


What to do now?   Time to go find PAM …