Got Google / Android? You ARE Being Tracked.

Makes me all happy, warm, and fuzzy that when I bought my (one and only) Android Tablet I deliberately bought it without any “radio” (for reaching a Telco as a cell phone) in it. It can only “connect” via WiFi and I can turn that off.

I ran into these two stories while looking for something else, but y’all ought to know that IF you have an Android / Google product, these issues must be addressed or it IS tracking you.

June 11, 2016 11:00 am
Google Maps Timeline: Why a little-known Google feature tracked me for months
By Patrick Cain National Online Journalist, News Global News

Here’s why you need to start paying attention to Google Maps Timeline, an obscure Google feature you’ve probably never heard of.

I went over to a friend’s house a few days ago.

I arrived at 8:51 p.m. after a six-minute walk, and sat in the back yard until 10:11, a total of 80 minutes.

I don’t usually keep track of my life at this level of detail. But it turns out that between them, Google and my Android phone do.

Since April, when I got the phone and activated the Google Maps app, the phone has been reporting my comings and goings, all of which are mapped and are visible if I’m logged in to my Google account. Have a look at your version — there may be data on you.
Can I trust Google with all this data I didn’t know was being gathered? For the sake of argument, let’s say the answer is yes.

A search for “google maps timeline” creepy gets dozens of results. I see the point, and somewhat agree, but on the other hand we have to give Google credit for transparency.
Now, let’s change a few pronouns around. I’ll use myself as an example.

Cain’s Timeline in Google Maps helps you easily visualize the places he has been on a given day, month or year — providing a useful map of his life. This feature helps you visualize his real-world routines, easily view the trips he’s taken and get a glimpse of the places he spends his time.

Not surprisingly, police have started to explore the possibilities. Earlier this year, the FBI served Google with a warrant in which they sought Android location data which they hoped would place a California man they were investigating for bank robbery at the scene of the crime.

The data should be precise enough to place Timothy Graham in the Bank of America in Ramona, Calif. on the day in question, supposing he robbed the bank and was dumb enough to bring his phone along as well as the “painter’s mask, hat and glasses” that witnesses described to police.

One wonders how many military personnel have Android phones with maps turned on… and what a TLA (Three Letter Agency) would do to get their hands on all that data for all global governments and militaries…

August 14, 2018 3:20 pm
Updated: August 15, 2018 10:12 am
Here’s how to turn off Google’s other tracking feature that you didn’t know about
By Patrick Cain National Online Journalist, News Global News

A while back, we told you about Google Maps Timeline, a little-known feature that provides a minute-by-minute record of your physical movements available to you — and anyone else with access to your account.

Like many of these features, it’s easy enough to turn off — once you know about it.
We had yet another reminder of this on Monday when the Associated Press reported that Google was tracking users’ movements through a completely separate process, much less transparent than Google Timeline, that still works even if you turn Google Timeline off.

“Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking,” AP technology reporter Ryan Nakaskima wrote. Users’ locations can be tracked to the square foot.
To chop off this particular head, however, here’s what to do:

In Activity Controls (follow this link: Google may want you to sign in again), and move the slider to the left:

Click Pause:

Has useful screen shots and interesting banter in the original so anyone on Android: Hit the link…

Or better yet, get a dumb phone…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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29 Responses to Got Google / Android? You ARE Being Tracked.

  1. ossqss says:

    With a little digging, just about all tracking, advertising profile, histories can be shunted/paused or turned off (if properly done) in chrome, youtube, etc.. I was suprised when I first dug into my google account, a few years back, how deep their reach was. Apple too!

  2. ossqss says:

    Here is some tip of the iceberg stuff.

    Additionally, in most android iterations, hit that hamburger button while in app manager and see some of the deeper permission controls you have on applications. It will amaze you how many permissions are granted by default to most apps.

  3. Lynn Clark says:

    Let me play devil’s advocate.

    In 2014, I started using a dashcam in my car to record everywhere I went and to record potential accident events. I also had two webcams in my house (one pointing out the front dining room window, one inside the garage) that were set to do “alarm” recordings that were triggered by movement and would record 30 seconds of video. (ftp from the webcams along with cron jobs and a perl script on my Mac handled transferring all the footage to a big file server in the crawlspace.) The original intent of installing the webcams was just security; being able to know who comes and who goes when I’m not home. But after watching some TV shows about people who got convicted of crimes that they didn’t commit, even with eye-witness testimony that they were miles from the scene of the crime, I realized that all my dashcam footage and the webcam footage provided a pretty good — but not comprehensive — record of where I was at many times of the day. More recently, I started doing my daily walk-run with a handheld action cam. Same reason; to enable me to defend myself against someone accusing me of attacking them, or who knows what? That’s the kind of world we live in, unfortunately. So, if Google is keeping a minute-by-minute record of where I am, I’m OK with that. But, I now live in Thailand, and I no longer have the same concerns. It’s amazing to me how much more relaxed I am in a country that isn’t overrun with political correctness and the insanity of genderism, sexism and identity politics that is rampant in the States. It’s actually really nice to be able to give my wife’s five-year-old niece a big hug without worrying that someone is going to accuse me of being some kind of pervert. lol

  4. gallopingcamel says:

    I used to be really puzzled by the fact that my Google maps could track traffic bottlenecks in real time and give accurate estimates of the delays.

    When I figured out how they were doing it I stopped taking my cell phone with me whenever I was engaged in anything unlawful.

  5. wyzelli says:

    Have you seen how many of the military were using Strava to track their exercise sessions and how maps of supposedly secure locations were able to be built from that data?
    Here is one of the articles about it:

  6. Eilert says:

    They really have it all i.e. NSA:
    Texts, emails (gmail), drafts (gmail), HAM comms, PS/Xbox chat logs, etc.

    Yes we all get tracked, but so is the Swamp. You see this technology makes their crimes much more efficient, but this makes them also trackable and they thought She will never loose.

  7. Simon Derricutt says:

    Even the BBC had an article about it, and how to turn it off:
    Given the technology exists, it would maybe be surprising if it wasn’t used, since you never know when it might prove valuable to Google to know when to advertise something to you. Apple probably does the same, but doesn’t tell you anything about it. The type of CPU used in PCs has had a unique serial number built-in for a long time now, so the origin of a message can be tied to a particular machine. AFAIK the Pi doesn’t….

  8. H.R. says:

    Simon Derricutt: “The type of CPU used in PCs has had a unique serial number built-in for a long time now, so the origin of a message can be tied to a particular machine. AFAIK the Pi doesn’t….”

    Not being much of a geek, I didn’t know that. However, that just changed the way I think.

    For instance, I’m now considering multiple devices that will have their own “personality” profile. The trick then is to use those different profiles to create a confusing, contradictory picture of the user when the separate devices are inevitably tied to one user. My desired result would be to throw a spanner in any program that tries to place users in useful, profitable categories. If nothing else, it would be a modest success if it wasted the trackers’ time and resources and never produces a hit for their advertisers.

    Is that even possible? I’ll have to think about it.

  9. Simon Derricutt says:

    H.R. – Micro$oft Word and other office software encodes that processor number into the files, too. Or at least used to…. I haven’t used it for a long time so haven’t checked current status.

    For situations that you’re envisioning, be aware that the browsers will, if asked, blab a lot. They’ll tell the site what fonts you’ve installed, what apps are there (Apple and Android), what cookies you’ve collected, and so on, and these sorts of things tend to be pretty good at identifying a unique machine even if you’re careful to keep anonymous otherwise. That’s why EM runs plain-vanilla systems as-installed (and often a fresh install) when he wants to be not tracked.

    If you want to remain anonymous, therefore, you’ll need to copy EM on this and, whilst a lot of sites won’t work without cookies, you only want them for that session and then clear down to a fresh install at the end of the session. Pain in the butt since you’ll need to key in all passwords or phrases each time, but there’s not a lot of point in doing a little bit towards anonymity – you have to go the whole hog or not bother. Also a good reason to use a Pi where you can slide in a fresh chip and have a “new” machine with all the identity of a fresh billiard-ball.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    The ARM chip does have a CPU serial number too:

    The only good news is that most thing don’t try to use it. The Open Source Community is quasi-hostile to privacy breaching and does what it can to be protective (unlike MicroSnot and Apple who work with Big Media and InfoGrabbers…)

    It is also the case that generally the Linux community and in particular the SBC world of micro-computers has not been seen as either interesting or a profit center. About all they’ve done is try to force DRM stuff onto us (and the community has reacted by working past it…)

    Per multiple machines:

    Now you know another of the reasons I’ve got so many platforms and rotate them regularly. It isn’t hard, or even expensive. Just don’t throw away “junk” computers. My Mac was dead from a failed SSD. I put an OS copy on an $8 micro-SD card and I’ve got a “free” Mac. I’ve got a couple of WinTel boxes that were castoff by others since 6 to 8 years ago they were no longer suited to the required Microsoft Update (but worked fine with Linux). At $35 each, being on a “one a year” plan for a Pi SBC is not a big hardship – then multiple personalities via cheap SD images (either on easy swap multiple cards or just as a patch of disk space that gets re-written to the card).

    Each system has a different “Use Case”. Making it hard to “finger” me. Heck, even the YouTube on the Roku’s thinks I’m 3 different people as I run different videos in the living room, bedroom, and office (one thinks I’m Hispanic as I watch a lot of Spanish language music on it). “My Data” lives on removable USB devices – disks mostly. It can move to anywhere desired to use it. My email (at present) is via a browser, so can wander (though I really only use it as rarely as possible). It will be moving to a different platform (provider) and be buffered through a VM on a service provider if I can find one I like. No single computer can give you information about my data, email, browsing, etc. It’s diffuse and isolated.

    So the “bought for an emergency when my laptop died” Chrombox does duty as a “every few weeks or even a month” media station on one of the TVs. It lets me save links better than the Roku. I sometimes use it as a browser station, but only for a few destinations. I don’t use it for email, nor are any documents on it. Anyone looking at the use will find I visit this blog, sometimes a couple of others, and watch YouTube videos (mostly the same music); but have no Google Docs at all. Oh, and I spend weeks at a time “idle”. In a year or two it will turn into a Linux box and a whole different personality / person. It has a never used Gmail associated with it so Google is happy.

    Similarly, the Mac. Used entirely for blog operations and sporadic downloading things for blog use or computer admin. Occasionally some trivial docs on it (but Apple doesn’t “share” your docs). Someone wants to get my “Grocery list blank” where I just hit check boxes with my pen as I walk the kitchen deciding what to buy, well, not a lot of info about me in “Dog food” and “Canned Vegetables” or even “Chicken”… Yeah, you can get that I’m a carnivore with a dog, but…

    The place where I edit docs is often is not even connected to the internet, so good luck trying to get anything out of that.

    Similarly the Tablet. Used as a “on the road browser” but too painful to type much on it. I’m more willing to put odd apps on it and see what they do. I even put a (brand new and never send email on it) email account as required by DirecTV when I was working in Florida so I could watch my DirecTV account. So it gets BBC, RT, and a few others “news feeds” and tells lies about me having DirecTV (as now I’ve fired them). So from that platform POV, I’m active about once a week (or two) for a few hours, get news, and visit a few web sites to read things. ALL files downloaded or saved are on the removable micro-SD chip that is not always in the device… so mostly it looks like I have zero photos, videos, docs, downloads, etc. etc. (I can put the chip and and turn WiFi off and manage saved things without them being visible to anyone but me on the tablet).

    So I’ve accumulated these platforms about one every 2 years, often as some work need made it happen or I had the extra money; occasionally as some “cast off” from someone else. The SBC’s you’ve seen the history of my evaluations / buys. Not exactly a big money sink.

    The biggest issue: Keeping your use cases clear in your mind and not mixing them cross platform. This is easier when they have very different properties (so Tablet not used for typing – duh; and the Chrombox not used for Google Docs; and the Mac a more general blog management station as typing is easy; Offline SBC for personal data work & docs; etc.) So someone wonders about my DRM compliance, they see a Chromebox where I watch DRM stuff and are happy. They don’t see the SBC with image manipulation / capture software on it…

    It is a little “junky”, as a few of the platforms are old cast offs. I keep thing running much longer than most folk as when the vendor drops support, I roll over to Linux (and a new identity and use and history and ‘a whole new me’ ;-) I’ve got way too many Pi images and need to prune that back (or just ignore the chips…) but some of that was due to forced changes (avoiding SystemD, that kernel bug…) so the old chips are really deprecated.

    The really nice thing is any one platform can die and I don’t care much. Just roll on to a new use case… Every so often an “identity” gets flushed and reset. At a transition to Linux, or just when I’m interested in resetting a box. So this Mac turned from the spousal daily driver into my browser station and had a 100% reset. In another year or so it will have a full reset to a Linux box. No “identity” lasts more than a year or three…

    IMHO, it makes a very hard to sort out mosaic of fragmented confusion. No one CPU serial number can be tied to anything much.

    THE biggest exposure I’ve got at the moment is that the Tablet and the Mac are both mobile platforms and record the WiFi hotspots they have been near (so have my home WiFi as an identity in them). That would allow connecting them (when remote) to “me” as an identity at home. So on my “to do” list is to make a different Mac Chip that is only used “on the road” and never sees any WiFi near home. The Tablet needs a “reset” then only used “on the road”; but I’ve not cared enough to go through that process (it will be easier now that I won’t care about losing my DirecTV identity and don’t need to carry it forward). I’ll probably just not bother until it goes through a Linux conversion. I’m really only using it about 4 hours a month… Maybe after I’ve got a personal VPN set up…

    So way more information than you needed (or likely wanted); but I think it matters to illustrate the “Rotate Your Shields” strategy and the hair on it… One of THE best things you can do for your security and privacy is to have a dedicated ‘browser box’ where you have nothing personal on it (so if hacked they get nothing but your browser history) and where you can reset it often without much discomfort (need to accept cookies again and reload bookmarks from a saved copy) to purge any installed malware. NEVER have your email on the same box / chip. Have another dedicated email reading station. Do NOT have any personal docs / information other than your email on it. Phishing now can only find out you have email… And if you periodically move your archived email to a disk that’s offline 90% of the time, they can’t get old email. No other Docs are discoverable and it isn’t connected to your network other than when you are reading email (so short time exposures). Every so often, archive your latest email and re-install to cleans it. Isolating those two use cases from everything else gets you most of the desired benefits as they are the biggest attack surfaces.

    I really wish it was simpler, but thanks to the fact that the Media Companies have influence over the chip makers and the commercial OS makers are largely under the thumb of Big Government and Big Business; it is what it is.

    There is an open source CPU chip in fab, but it isn’t fast enough (yet) to be a viable desktop. In a few years, though, we’ll be able to escape the hardware screwage (serial numbers, DRM, fudged BIOS, …) but not yet.

  11. H.R. says:

    E.M.: “Each system has a different “Use Case”. Making it hard to “finger” me. Heck, even the YouTube on the Roku’s thinks I’m 3 different people as I run different videos in the living room, bedroom, and office (one thinks I’m Hispanic as I watch a lot of Spanish language music on it).”

    @E.M. (and Simon Derricutt): Yup. That’s what I’m getting at. You’ve written about this at various times over the years. What you just wrote was a nice summary of things you’ve pointed out before, plus some new things I don’t recall seeing. They had half-sunk in because……….

    ……..what Simon wrote made it obvious to me that I can’t hide. I’m not going to go to the lengths needed to even half try. But I can use a few devices, as you mentioned, to deliberately make my profile so nonsensical as to be useless.

    For starters, this laptop I’m on will now never leave this house. I’ll get something else for my road trips that will never be used in this house. I’ll be looking to get a third device that is strictly for e-mail. I have two e-mail accounts, one is checked annually unless I’ve requested contact (my H.R. address), and the other is used for things like inquiries when shopping for cars or other such things where I am temporarily active with someone that, as soon as I’m done, will turn into spam. I check that account every month or two and just clean it out. It takes just a couple of minutes.

    I don’t text. If I receive a text on my dumb phone, I might reply by hitting 3 or 4 random keys to let the sender know I got their text. I’d love to see a collection of the texted wisdom of H.R. 😜

    I have never participated in any form of social media.

    But I am now thinking of the fun one could have deliberately creating some sort of alien persona that emerges when all sources of data that are tied to me are combined and analyzed. If you can’t hide, maybe you can make them regret finding you. 😁😆🤣

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    The term of art for a fake “alien persona” is a “sock puppet”. If being done with some deliberation, you even make “appropriate” email address, social media presence, etc. etc.

    I’ve not “gone there” as I’m already busy enough… but it is a common thing in the Troll and Social Influencing world. I see it every day in various comments in different media.

    So just as an example, when you get your roaming device, you could put the persona of Harry Romer on it, make an email account in the name of Harry Romer, etc. etc. Now when “on the road” you become Harry Romer and “live the life”. Yet the real H.R. is never on the road and never at those places…

    I have 2 common email addresses. A private one only used with family and friends, and the public one (pub4all) used for external things that are more public / companies. It is also the SPAM catcher. Then there are 2 special purpose gmail accounts. The DirecTV one and the Chromebox one. They are to keep those two things isolated from the rest of “me”.

    So if you really get “into it”, a totally Sock Puppet machine for use “on the road” is a reasonable way to go. Essentially that’s what my Tablet is; given the DirecTV identity / email.

    When you get right down to it, there’s likely 4 main “personas” that are most of me (2 misleading gmail), and then 3 more Roku personas, and then the totally private stuff… Oh, and some that have just been abandoned in the past, a decade or so ago. Every so often a “re-candle” makes sense. The pub4all is reaching that point where the total spam showing up is high enough to leak an annoying level through the SPAM filters. So whenever I get a new mail service, it will have a new ID, and the old one will have anything I care about saved then left a zombie until it gets auto-removed… (so the last year is all trash to wade through ;-) if anyone goes looking…)

    I’m likely to construct a full sock puppet in a few years, just for the experience. But we’ll see.

  13. philjourdan says:

    @Galloping Camel: “I stopped taking my cell phone with me whenever I was engaged in anything unlawful.”

    Sounds like a perfect alibi! Wonder how law enforcement is going to handle know-it-all google testifying on behalf of the defense. :-)

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    Just leave your cell phone in your wife’s car and ask where she went that day so you can say where you were… “Yes, your honor, I was at the beauty parlor…” ;-)

    Or have your buddy carry it around “We were together all day, never left his side”… “The Gay Bar? Um, er… Yes, just to see the place… ”

    Maybe needs a bit more work ;-)

  15. H.R. says:

    Hmmmm… I have a phone. It’s really me; name, billing address, etc. But any texts made on my phone are pure gibberish… almost like they are in code.

    I wonder if I’ve raised any red flags? 😜

    Oh. I got a Garmin GPS over ten years ago as a present. We’ve always used that instead of smartphone map/directions apps. I’m not one for filling out warranty cards or registering devices. My credit card wasn’t used for the purchase. I wonder if Big Brother has managed to tie that Garmin to me for tracking purposes? Hard to say.

  16. H.R. says:

    Oh wait… even my dumb phone knows where I’m at. Time to toss it in a Faraday wrap and leave it in the trailer while traveling. I will just pop up at various places when traveling.

  17. R. de Haan says:

    I have an Android with a removable battery. I take the battery out when traveling by car. I have two Sim slots which carry non registered pre-paid sim cards, number recognition off. I use an ad free browser in private mode with as home page. No cooky download accepted, If a site doesn’t work properly, their bad. Never visit sites like Amazon or Ebay. Google location settings off, Bluetooth off, Google in maximum privacy mode, Android firewall installed which allows you to control any app and also provides you with an excellent free VPN (US). Battery use is minimal thanks to the firewall. I use Signal for encrypted messaging and calls, No agenda info, no address book, no pictures/selfies/video’s, Both camera lenses are taped off, Sound off when phone is in the grid. Wifi log-in alway’s via Raspberry server. No online payments apps or online banking, cash is king. No synchronizing with computer, No Facebook, no Twitter, No Linkedin, no Whatsapp, no Skype or other social media, no sports apps or other useless junk, No cloud storage and no likes anywhere, No facial recognition = no profiling. All my contacts are written down in an old fashioned address booklet. For navigation, car, plane, I use a one way navigator from Garmin, No google maps. Criminals allowed to do time at their home have a GPS tracker attached to their leg. We carry our “smart”phones voluntarily. I know I have put myself in the stone age, despite using a modern phone but privacy is 100% down the tube if we use our smartphone unrestricted.
    P.s, I don’t hand out my smartphone numbers but make use of several virtual numbers each with different country codes that have been forwarded to one of my mobile numbers. Today you only need to know the number of a smartphone to clone the damn thing.

  18. H.R. says:

    R. de Haan: “All my contacts are written down in an old fashioned address booklet.”

    Same here.

    Here’s a tip, if you don’t already do this. At the back of my checkbook-size address book, there are 4? 5? 6? lined pages for notes. I made a list of the phone numbers in my book along with the first name. I aligned the area codes and exchanges so I can quickly go down the list when there’s a number calling that I don’t recognize. (It could be from a rarely called friend whose number I don’t have memorized.) If it’s not on the list, I don’t answer or call back.

    @ All: I have been getting a lot of scam calls lately that are using a trick I happened to learn about out because the numbers weren’t on my list. I ran across the trick when checking out some numbers that I suspected were spam/scam.

    I don’t know how it’s done, but the displayed number calling is from my area code and my exchange with the last 4 digits being different, of course. It seems the scammers get a much better response rate when it looks like a number from someone else in your area; family, a friend, a local business.

    Anybody else getting these spoofed-number calls?

    It’s a clever ploy and I can see how it increases the response rate. It almost got me the first few times except I don’t answer any calls from numbers I don’t recognize from memory.

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    Hmmm phone + hide a key magnet – – – stick to local bus, pick it up when bus returns to original stop.

    There are just so may ways to spoof that system if you know it is in use, Or you can hire a “phone sitter” to walk around the local lake with your phone in a secure plastic box that only you can open.

    Take phone into local cabelas store, stick phone under something come back later in the day and retrieve your phone.

    “Yes I was shopping for fishing gear – why?”

  20. H.R. says:

    Good ones, Larry. It seems we are quite the playful bunch here when it comes to messing with those who are trying to paint a picture of us.

    “Onto every watercolor portrait of me, a little rain must fall.”
    ~H.R. 😎

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes. It’s a common ploy.

    The “secret”:

    PBX (phone switch) equipment historically was installed by the Telco for companies. Private Branch Exchange. They would load it with your assigned phone number. Later, folks started buying and installing their own phone switch, so had to be able to load the phone number themselves.

    Now you can get PBX software to turn a computer into a PBX. You can even have it load a different “source” phone number from time to time.

    NOTHING limits what phone number you can load

    Supposedly this is so that your company, placing outgoing calls on a large trunk with 48 lines can all present the same front desk phone number as your ID. It is used for that (and I’ve set it up at different companies where my guy ran the phone switch… this isn’t a hypothetical or ‘book smarts’ for me… I’ve used it.) It also lets you put an 800 number in your caller ID / call back while outgoing is on a paid bundle. Or have your NYC PBX send out the head office number in Florida, so your local sales team can make calls that look like they originate from HQ. Lots of valid uses.

    But the Phone Spammers have learned the trick, so now Caller ID only works for us “regular folks”, not for anyone with a PBX…

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Some bits on DIY PBX. Setting up a “free” phone using Google services (GAK!)
    Doing it using a R. Pi computer:

    General discussion of PBX setup using Asterisk software:

    So it isn’t like you need a $100,000.00 AT&T box like in the old days…

  23. cdquarles says:

    I’ve long known that phone numbers could be spoofed. I learned it some 20 or was it 30 years ago. Any number that shows up on my phone, that is not in my contacts list, is not ever going to be returned. Sure, some legitimate calls might fall through. Write me, if you’re legitimate. My sister was a victim of identity theft (by family, by the way) and I was on the receiving end of a terrifying phone call some 45 years ago, because someone maliciously impersonated me. Back then very few had unlisted numbers and the number wasn’t even mine. It was my grandparents’ number.

    Privacy? I don’t ever expect that. Leave me alone? I do expect that and only that.

  24. corsair red says:

    “Onto every watercolor portrait of me, a little rain must fall.”
    Wonderful turn of phrase.

    For several days I had some fun with the scammers. I answered the phone, waited for the mechanical voice to get to the ” press 2 for . . .” When the real person came on, I said, ” I have a question. ” Everyone of them waited, or asked, ” What is your question? ” ” Does your mother know you are a whore and a thief? ”

    Then I decided I had enough. I started going through the same routine, but when I started I talking I kept talking until I could get my ear muffs on. Then I used the compressed air boat horn. Word gets around. The calls are down to about one a month.

    Like cdquarles, I don’t expect privacy.

  25. H.R. says:

    @corsair red: Oddly, when I wrote that paraphrase, I couldn’t recall the actual quote I was fracturing. When I read your reply to me (thank you!), it jumped right into mind.

    “Be still, sad heart! And cease repining;
    behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
    thy fate is the common fate of all,
    into each life some rain must fall.”

    ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    For my next act of phone spam retaliation, I’m going to try to get a recording of that electronic three notes rising “dee Dee DAH” followed by that nice lady who says “We’re sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service. Please hang up and check the number you are trying to call.”

    I picked up a very nice hand-held voice recorder that was being dumped; Originally $60 dollars, I got it for $15 dollars. It seems that since smart phones became ubiquitous, people no longer want compact cameras or voice recorders since they get that functionality with their phones.

    Which reminds me; I need to get a nice compact camera that is being dumped at a heavy discount. I have a dumb ol’ flip phone, but at $19 dollars, the camera is struggling to live up to (but just misses) the ‘adequate’ standard.

    It’s only good for those bog standard fuzzy, out-of-focus UFO and Bigfoot pictures. (Hmmm… if my photos have been sent to that great NSA repository in the sky, their algorithm must have me pegged and filed away as a UFO and Bigfoot’ nutter…. “Attention NSA: That’s my sister at Thanksgiving dinner, not a photo of a Gray.” Or maybe it was the turkey. It’s hard even for me to tell. 😜)

    Anyhow, playing that recording should provide some amusement when the spammers and scammers come on the line. Hopefully, it will reduce the number of live boiler-room spam calls. I don’t think anything can be done about the robocalls.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    Per Phone SPAM:

    My Florida Friend answers, and then asks questions. He leads them on and on. Every time they go for the close, he says “Just one more thing, tell me about…” and eventually it gets to repeating the same thing. See, they are trained to be persistent, and in an Aikido way, he uses that force against them. Eventually one will ask a question where the appropriate answer is to explain, like “We’ve talked a long time, why aren’t you ready to close the deal?”. He then explains: “Oh, I’m NEVER going to {buy, sign up, whatever}. I’m just wasting your time. But as long a you are talking to me you are not bothering someone else. So tell me more about your product…”

    Usually that’s the moment when they hang up and never call again ;-)

    @H.R & Corsair Red.:

    There is a hidden “disconnect signal” sent to phone switches. You can buy devices that put it on the phone line ( I own one for real phone lines, not sure if it works on IP phones but it ought to).

    A real person will not notice it, but an automated dialer will detect it, mark the line as “dead” and move on to the next call. (Automated dialers don’t care about air horns… or the voice message). This ends the calls automatically at the computer dialer before it even gets to you.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have one that works on cell phones. Then again, unless you are in my white list (my ‘address book’) you get voice mail…

    One of the uses for a home PBX (think Asterix on a R. Pi) is that you can program it with your own phone tree. One with “pass words”. So it answers the phone and says: Please enter the access code for this line. IF they enter whatever you have set the code to be (7575 or whatever) then the phone switch rings the phone. If not, they can be just dropped cold, or sent to a voice mail system.

    Another of those “was going to do it then just canceled the house phone instead” things…. and part of why I’m thinking of building my own “smart phone”. A Cell Phone with a built in PBX would be a smart phone worth having ;-)

    To leave a message, press 1
    To speak to management, enter the access code
    For help, press 9
    If you are selling or soliciting, give up now


  27. H.R. says:

    You forgot a few to put at the beginning of your prompts, E.M.

    Please listen carefully to the following options, as our menu has recently changed.
    For Spanish, please press 2.
    For Mandarin, please press 3
    For German, please press 4
    For Farsi, please press 5
    and so on
    For Suisse Deutsche, please press 14
    and so on
    For Italian, please press 52
    and yet more

    For Swahili, please press 87
    (Hang in there caller. You’ve almost made it!)

    This message will repeat for verification of your selection. (DOH!)
    Please re-enter the number of your choice when you hear it again.

    If at any time you wish to speak to an actual person, please press # s-a-n-d

    Or how about, “If this is an emergency call, please hang up and dial 9-1-1. For all other calls, please just hang up.”

  28. ossqss says:

    This was a classic!

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