Just As I Thought

The weasels are back

Yesterday, I started getting those calls again — the fax calls on my home phone. This time, they all came from a blocked number. Every 5 minutes, over and over and over,
But in another example of serendipity, this morning’s Washington Post addresses the problem!

The ringing phone has awakened Jen Cromwell and her family in the wee hours every night for months now. When she answers it, she hears that stomach-turning screech of a fax machine auto-dialing her regular phone line.

The Silver Spring reader tried nabbing the faxers’ number but found that the faxes are coming from “Nigerian Scam” swindlers with no return number. Because the calls aren’t local, Verizon can’t block them.

Desperate, Cromwell asked for suggestions in this column two weeks ago.

Not only did many readers relate, a bunch offered hope:

Max Handelsman of Olney says if Cromwell’s fax calls are auto-dialed by a computer, one trick is to “record the three tones for a disconnected number” onto the beginning of her answering machine message. When the fax call “hears” the tones, the computer notes the number as out of service and stops calling. The disconnected tone can be downloaded free from the Junkbusters Web site (http://www.junkbusters.com/telemarketing.html).

Federal Communications Commission spokeswoman Rosemary Kimball says that while it’s hard to get a handle on illegal junk faxes from overseas, “the FCC has an active enforcement program to investigate these complaints and punish violators. People getting these faxes should file a complaint with the FCC.”

In the end, the tips they give are hardly useful. Although having a telephone is a necessity, I often think that I should just turn the damn thing off. Since I get more calls on my unlisted number from telemarketers and scammers than I get from friends and family, it seems like a no-brainer.

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