Rise Against the Machines: Fighting Robocalls & SMS Spam


Scammers aren’t quitters. Especially the ones who aren’t human—that’s where robocallers come in. While it’s pretty entertaining to picture an actual robot sitting on the other end of the line hoping to convince you sign up for their services, it gets old pretty quickly. And, as an Ars Technica article pointed out, interactive voice response (IVR) programs are not quite as charming as Wall-E trying to romance his way into the mechanical heart of his robot lady friend.



A.I. or just annoying?

Depending on the quality of the computer programming and vocal inflection, it can be pretty difficult to tell if you’re talking to robot or person. In fact, IVR bots tend to venture into what’s known as the uncanny valley, an ambiguous and uncomfortable twilight zone where computers come too close to being human-like both in appearance and sound, but are just robotic enough to be inhuman. In other words, this situation gives you the creeps. But, if you probe the robocallers long enough, it quickly becomes clear that you’re dealing with an IVR program spouting a scripted pitch.

Spammers using this technology are also experts at changing up the phone number that pops up on your phone, often using a local area code. This may lead you to believe that it’s a legitimate person or business calling. That’s one of the reasons that we developed our app Whitepages Caller ID to enable you to immediately identify and block spam calls. You don’t have to waste even a second listening to “Bob” ask you how your day is going, and potentially coaxing you into disclosing sensitive information. However, spam isn’t limited to robocalls, as iPhone owners have learned that.

Making a mess of iMessage

For iPhone users, iMessage is a pretty useful way to dodge data fees. But it doesn’t stop there: Almost all Apple products are connected to the iMessage system, which allows for free communication to anyone with the brand’s devices.

It’s also apparently a great way for spammers to get their annoying messages in front a massive amount of consumers. And it’s a dream come true for scammers with knowledge of Apple scripts. Wired explained the perpetrators of a spam attack from August last year used Apple’s own code to carry out the campaign. Who can resist knock-off luxury purses and faux-Oakley sunglasses? Plus, the workaround that Apple set up was pretty clunky. You had to send Apple a screen shot of the spam message, phone number or email, and details about when it was sent. Even then, it took a few days to see results.

Now, the Cupertino-based tech company has upgraded its spam blocking functionality in the latest iOS version. CNET explained you’re able to filter out unknown senders and mark them as junk. That’s great that Apple is taking the time to boost their blocking capabilities, but the reality is that there needs to be better spam detection.

At Whitepages, our phone reputation service works around the clock to ID spammers, including robocallers. We use that information when you search a phone number on our site, or when you use Whitepages Caller ID. If you’re an Anroid user, Caller ID is the ideal solution for helping you avoid cellphone spam and block scammers, both human and robot.

by Whitepages

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