I get two types of spam phonecalls. The first kind I call the “callcentre bastards that won’t leave me alone”, the second kind I call the “silent ones that just hang up”.
Dealing with both kinds is easy – when the phone rings, pick it up and listen. Can you hear anything or does the line sound dead? If you can hear something, does it sound like a callcentre? If you can’t hear anything, send a good irate sounding “HELLO?” down the phone, most of the time this’ll get you cut off and you can go about your day.
If you hear a callcentre, continue to sit silently listening. It can be quite interesting hearing other people’s calls. At some point the caller might give an inquisitive “hello?” down the phone at you. Your mission now is to figure out whether they’re someone important like the bank, or just a telesales callcentre. Telling your bank to go away and procreate with themselves isn’t always wise after all. Listen for telltale signals like them asking for generic terms – “Can I speak to the householder?” “Is the major bill payer available?” etc.
If they ask for you by name, continue keeping your guard up… it might be your bank, but it could be their “let’s sell you a loan” department.
If it’s a genuine spam caller, and they’re now rattling off their spiel at you… simply hang up, they’ve wasted enough of your time already. Don’t bother trying to politely get them to go away, they don’t care. Don’t even bother trying to waste their time, it’s like peeing on an oil fire to put it out – the difference you make is not measurable. Just cut them off and continue about your day.
You can then wonder and marvel at modern communications. Every form you fill in that demands your phone number probably has a “tick this box to opt out of marketing and time wasting calls, we promise to only use your number for legitimate reasons… things like the parcel courier getting lost”. And yet we still get these calls. Does adding your number to the TPS actually do anything, or is it really a trick to harvest our phone numbers?
Oh and never, ever put your mobile number in there. However “You’ve rung me at a really bad time, I’m actually on the toilet” is possibly the best way to get rid of someone on the phone.
I have greylisting on my email server – if you email me, initially your email gets rejected and your mailserver gets told to try again in five minutes. If it does this, you get accepted and the mail goes through. If only I could make my phone emit a busy tone the first time an unknown caller rings, and then if they ring back later it lets them through…