Reporting spam calls and texts

Is it possible to report spam calls and texts?

For example today I got one of those annoying automated calls suggesting I had been involved in an accident. From the call list being able to report it as spam, and potentially block the number.

Then when the same number has been reported multiple times further investigation could be done to prevent the number being used in the future for spamming or even passing details on to a fraud organisation to be able to take the organisation making the calls down, thus preventing the issue in the future.

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I use Should I answer?

Would be great if Zevvle partnered with a service like this.
Doing it from scratch would take a lot of work

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I thought that was a no earlier, but yes that would be possible. We can’t do it at the network level yet (when we work on SIP that’ll change), but iOS and Android have an API for blocking numbers and possibly showing additional info for an incoming call as well, the way Should I Answer? does it.

However, it’ll need some more work on the Android/iOS internals, so this is probably for when our dev team is > 1…

That’s probably the way to go – not sure if SIA? has an API, but “Tellows” does…

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The big benefit, of course, is that you get a much bigger community reporting numbers than if you go it alone.

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Any half-decent scammer will spoof their caller ID and rotate them regularly (or even make one up on the fly before each call), so trying to categorize numbers or block them is futile at best and could have collateral damage (blocking the legitimate owner of the number). It would do more harm than good.

passing details on to a fraud organisation

First off, a lot of these calls aren’t scams per-se. They’re annoying, violate a law preventing calls to numbers registered on the TPS but they aren’t fraud - if you actually fall for it you’ll just be sold a really bad deal but most of the times it isn’t fraud (the “car accident” calls are boiler rooms full of monkeys trying to generate leads for UK-based PPI claims companies).

Second, even if there is actual attempts of fraud involved, I’m not sure we in the UK have any organization that wants to deal with it. I once tried to report a scam attempt to Action Fraud (with more than enough info to track down the scammer) - they literally did not give a shit.

It is a difficult issue to get right, and during the early phases of setting up the network, other things will likely take priority.

The car accident ones are now usually just automated calls. Even if you do get through to a human, it they’ll just hang up if you ask how they got your number.

Some operators allow you to forward spam texts to 7726.

If you actually want to track them down you have to play along and pretend to be interested (Fake Name Generator is a good website to get a set of fake but coherent details). Once they think they have a lead they’ll be more than happy to tell you who they work for (aka the company that’s paying them for the leads). You can then go after that company and get a couple hundred bucks out of them for calling numbers listed in the TPS (they would rather pay to keep you quiet rather than having the matter escalated as that would jeopardise their whole - illegal - operation).

Some operators allow you to forward spam texts to 7726.

Is there any evidence that any of these reports are actioned upon, and can they even deal with ones where the caller ID is spoofed? Given the entire industry makes money on these (your carrier gets paid for delivering these texts & calls) I’d expect it to be better for them to “look away”.

There is a solution against this for where Zevvle becomes one of the major carriers (and where other carriers interconnect with them directly) - disconnect any carrier whose traffic looks like spam (high ratio of inbound calls compared to outbound, sudden increase in traffic, etc) or if their traffic causes too many complaints. But until Zevvle reaches that stage I’m not sure anything even remotely effective can be done.

I was thinking about this recently as I’ve had quite a few spam calls. Would be great to have a way to block / report a number as spam in the app

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Being able to do it in app could help with caller where the caller ID is withheld, as it is still in the call logs.

Monzo is great at fraud detection, I wonder if Zevvle could have blocking spam calls as a selling feature? (I’ve had several recently too all from different numbers but sounding as though a similar source).

That is the plan for this summer! It’ll be iOS-only to start with, and we’ll likely do it in 2 steps — getting all the functionality in-app to block numbers, and then we can get more ~sophisticated~. Unless we’re certain a call is spam we won’t block it on your behalf, but we can at least show more info on the calling screen. A more advanced “who’s calling?” would be great.

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Related to this area, it would be amazing to have a ‘virtual number’ feature. (Inspired by fintech virtual cards).

Currently I can buy a number off Twilio for a few pounds a month and get it to forward calls and text to my actual number, but it’s quite a faff to set up. Would definitely be a unique feature if this was possible with Zevvle.

You only share your real number with important people, then have other virtual numbers that can be deleted when necessary (e.g. after giving it to some recruiters…).

I already pay Twilio for this, so would definitely be willing to pay a monthly fee for this functionality. Zevvle plus anyone? :wink:

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Do you only forward calls & messages, or have you set something up to send messages/make calls as well? Would you want to do that?

If we did something like this, it’s very likely we’d use Twilio!

I just have the forwarding set up, not any outgoing calls or texts altered. Seems much trickier to manage that as you’d have to select which number to use before calling. Also if I’m calling someone then I don’t mind them having my number. The situation I’m trying to avoid is getting unnecessary inbound calls mostly.

One annoying thing with the Twilio setup is that it doesn’t seem to work for any website number authentication. I guess they can detect that it is a Voip number and don’t allow it. That is the other half of the use case for me, to not give my real number to websites I don’t trust that much. Unfortunately if you were to use Twilio you would also run into that issue I think

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True true, and it’d mean a separate place to make calls or send messages from, i.e. we then need to manage that whole interface which means either a) more clutter in the Zevvle app or b) a separate app…

Call & message forwarding would be simple enough, though!

Yes, I think that applies to all the programmable SMS providers unfortunately, and it’ll be a while before we can do any better.

I’ve used Port 5060 with an extension on my landline within the calling accounts on my Android phone on the past. This allows both incoming and outgoing calls.

I primarily done it due to family in Germany and allowing us to receive calls while they used the cheaper to call landline number and we could get them whilst out. Usage went down in part due to WhatsApp so I stopped doing that as it was a feature I was no longer using.

I should probably set up a random landline or 03 number for websites. It’s only £1.20 per month plus 12p setup with A&A. I could setup to just redirect the calls to my mobile which would have the call costs on top, or use the Android sip calling accounts.

I did have a test 03 number with A&A temporarily when I switched to them, and noticed that Zevvle couldn’t send texts to the 03 number, but could to the 01 number.

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The A&A mobile numbers appear to be from Three and would work even in cases where Twilio or other VoIP numbers are rejected.

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I can see a possible issue with this in that I currently use a Twilio number as my main number but many services that text confirmation codes completely fail to send to Twilio numbers.

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Yep, we’d make it clear that this use-case wouldn’t work (I did speak with Twilio & Next about it, but alas…).

Mind if I ask what your setup looks like? Have you configured everything through Twilio or do you use another service as well?

My setup is highly cursed, that’s the first thing to get out of the way.

For SMS to the numbers I have twilio send webhooks to a Discord bot that creates channels automatically for each source number, and sends messages for channels than are e164 formatted names.

For voice I use the elastic SIP trunking to push everything to an asterisk PBX that mostly matches individual incoming numbers to individual extensions. For dialing out each extension has a default number (say my phone will be default dial from an 07 number, and my desk phone from an 029 number), but it’s also possible to prefix with a 9X to select a specific outbound number.

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Finding myself wanting this now. :sweat_smile:

I got my first ever spam text yesterday, and today I my first spam call and more texts! Lucky me, I wonder who’s leaked my data…