Toll free numbers of spammers
Obsolete document warning: This document
hasn't been maintained for several years now (as of Spring 2005). But
someone recently asked about this "project" and so I've dug in out.
Maybe, I'll make some formating changes, but I'll leave the rest as the
original (typos and all).
This is very obviously under construction.
I will have more anti-spam information here later. This site is maintained
by Jeffrey Goldberg.
One the the many evil things about spam is that one way or another the recipient
of the unsolicited email has to carry the cost of the spam. It is as
if junk postal mail came postage due and with forged addresses.
A small portion of spam advertise toll free numbers where suckers
can purchase or get more information about their dubious products
and services. One feature, of course, about toll free numbers, is
that the recipient of the call pays the charges and not the caller.[Note] This
is an opportunity to try to shift some of the cost of spamming back
to the spammers. Making spam costly to the spammers is the only[Note] way to stop spam.
Below are listed some email message I have received which list apparently
toll free numbers of their businesses.
Note: This is no longer true. The numbers
I have a five years out of date as of Spring 2005. I don't list them and
I don't maintain them.
Important notes and disclaimers
- These are unverified. All I know is that I received the mail listed.
I have done no investigation of the spam or the number listed myself.
- The advertised toll free number are US and Canada toll free numbers only.
Calling these numbers from outside of the US may (probably will) incur
- I have not actually verified that the numbers are toll free. Look at
the number itself if you choose to dial them to determine yourself
whether those are toll free numbers.
- Important: Caller ID blocking does not
does not work with toll free numbers. I did receive a call back
(from the contacted spammer pretending to be from the business
advertised) to a number I blocked. Also, someone sent me an
semi-anonymous email message explaining
that caller ID blocking is disabled. I have since had this
fact confirmed by several others. The bottom line is that if you
don't want to leak your phone number, use public telephones. Also
the use of public telephones may increase the fee that is paid by
- Out of date. Please look at the dates in the headers of the spam sent.
Some of these are old, and by their nature some of the businesses are
fly-by-night. Some of the telephone numbers may now belong to
- It is likely that repeatedly dialing a number (say a small dialing
script) is a violation of some law or other and at a minimum would
get you in trouble with your telephone company. In general, I
don't feel that abuse should be fought with abuse.
What I do
Other than publishing this list, I call each number and leave a single
polite message explaining why I do not like spam. I highlight the
fact that with spam the recipients carry the cost. It is also worth
noting that some of the business called may be ignorant instead of evil.
They may have hired someone to do "Internet Marketing" for them without
understanding what would be done. As I have also mentioned, the messages
have not been verified in anyway independent of the fact that I received
them. There is the very remote possibility that they were sent without
any sort of consent of the organizations being advertised. While I
think that that is very very unlikely, I do bear it in mind when calling.
Each spam is stored in a file named number.txt in this
directory. Be sure to inspect the spam message itself to judge for yourself
whether and what action should be take. Do not just dial the numbers you see
from the list below, without making careful decisions on your own.
What you see should be sorted roughly in the (reverse) order they arrived
from the time in August 2000 when I first started saving these. (There is
a major gap from 2002 to 2004). The messages were saved with the
"Export" mechanism in Pine
which may sometimes do odd things. The messages are the raw messages (so
if they are HTML, you see the raw HTML; if they are quoted-printable, you
see the quoted-printable instead of the prettified versions the email
client would show you. Also full headers are there except for the ones
added by my own local delivery system from my ISP.
This page has been /.-ed
mentioning this document has appeared on Slashdot in November 2001, so you can
go to that
article to find discussion of this scheme. I've received a lot of
mail and suggestions in the days following the listing. I will try to
incorporate those as I can.
Version: $Revision: 1.2 $
Last Modified: $Date: 2005/05/01 05:27:21 $ GMT
First established October 07, 2000