Author Topic: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems  (Read 1470 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey all,

This is really for any of you who are familiar with older PBX systems and business phone lines (IP Daley? ;D). My in-laws have been dealing with a higher-than-usual amount of crank calling at their restaurant and we're trying to get it dealt with and at least try to identify who's calling first. AT&T said in order to get the call records of inbound callers we need a subpoena or police report...?!  Apparently they don't provide the numbers of inbound callers for whatever reason.

Anyway, we bought a very simple caller ID unit for the purpose of identifying at least one of the crank callers if possible. However, things got complicated once we started looking at their phone system and setup.... turns out that they have an antiquated ATT Merlin Phone BIS-10 system with no caller ID (there are four handsets in the restaurant to divide between the two lines that they are connected to). There are two lines hooked up to it and it's not a standard RJ11 connection - it's like Power over RJ11 or something (I don't know what the term is). The wiring running to the junction box is such that it's directly hooked in and there are no other RJ11 outlets to which another phone could be connected. They also have a third line hooked up to a standard line (RJ11) and if the first two lines are busy calls will be redirected to the third line. Currently the caller ID unit is hooked up to this 3rd standard phone but I don't think that'll be enough since that's the last route the calls take and only if it's busy enough.

Is it possible to 'intermix' and add a newer Merlin-type phone with caller ID/display to the existing system or to replace ONE of the existing Merlin handsets with one that has caller ID/display on it? Or would they have to replace all four of their Merlin handsets?

The idiots have been crank calling for the past hour or so since we got here but on and off. Currently we have the first two lines off the hook so calls will get redirected to the third line hopefully... in hopes that we get a number of one of these jerkfaces.

Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.

TIA!

Saving in Austin

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2018, 05:50:29 PM »
Caller ID spoofing is very popular among telemarketers of all kinds.

Trying to call back the phone number from the caller ID on your phone usually leads to a disconnected number.

I don't think AT&T or any other Telcom will help you unless you can prove that the incoming calls are dangerous.

Most crank callers will get tired eventually and the calls should stop.


jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2018, 05:54:12 PM »
Caller ID spoofing is very popular among telemarketers of all kinds.

Trying to call back the phone number from the caller ID on your phone usually leads to a disconnected number.

I don't think AT&T or any other Telcom will help you unless you can prove that the incoming calls are dangerous.

Most crank callers will get tired eventually and the calls should stop.

They have told us the frequency of crank calls has gone up... this is a Chinese restaurant, so that could be a factor (stupid kids just wanting to make fun, etc). AT&T at first said a police report would be enough but when my wife checked again they told her she would need a subpoena.


BTW:
https://www.shouselaw.com/crime-annoying-phone-calls.html

Penal Code 653m reads: "(a) Every person who, with intent to annoy, telephones or makes contact by means of an electronic communication device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith. (b) Every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device, or makes any combination of calls or contact, to another person is, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call or contact by means of an electronic communication device, guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith or during the ordinary course and scope of business."

My wife just answered a call earlier where that jerk told her to "f*ck off" so I would classify this as obscene. Several employees have also been cussed out in the same manner.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 06:06:13 PM by jeromedawg »

HipGnosis

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2018, 09:27:08 PM »
In a former career I was a moderator (low-level admin) of an analog & digital PBX phone system for a small co.   The Co upgraded to a VoIP system yrs ago.

The PBX simply does not process or even pass-thru caller-ID. 

I believe your/their best course of action is:
Put in a single, regular/residential phone-service/line with it's own number.  Have a phone jack installed for/with that service/#.   Connect any regular phone with caller ID to it.
Call the phone co. of the restaurants phone lines/#s.  Tell them you are having a problem with your phone system (you don't have to give any details) and have them route inbound calls to the # of the new, regular line you put in.  There is an industry term for this, but I'm afraid I can't recall it.
Note that they will still be able to call out on the restaurant's phones.
I'd use that configuration long enough to log a good number of the prank calls - to clearly show the frequency.
Then, you call the phone co back and have them un-route the calls.
Once you have the #(s) doing the pranks, call the police.
I'd leave the new line/# until it was resolved.

Oh, you don't say what happens when the pranker calls - I'd get a recording of it before I called the police - easily done with a speaker phone and a smart phone or a tape recorder.

Good luck.
 


jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 11:17:00 PM »
Have any of you used Trapcall or any services like it?

jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2018, 11:41:09 PM »
In a former career I was a moderator (low-level admin) of an analog & digital PBX phone system for a small co.   The Co upgraded to a VoIP system yrs ago.

The PBX simply does not process or even pass-thru caller-ID. 

I believe your/their best course of action is:
Put in a single, regular/residential phone-service/line with it's own number.  Have a phone jack installed for/with that service/#.   Connect any regular phone with caller ID to it.
Call the phone co. of the restaurants phone lines/#s.  Tell them you are having a problem with your phone system (you don't have to give any details) and have them route inbound calls to the # of the new, regular line you put in.  There is an industry term for this, but I'm afraid I can't recall it.
Note that they will still be able to call out on the restaurant's phones.
I'd use that configuration long enough to log a good number of the prank calls - to clearly show the frequency.
Then, you call the phone co back and have them un-route the calls.
Once you have the #(s) doing the pranks, call the police.
I'd leave the new line/# until it was resolved.

Oh, you don't say what happens when the pranker calls - I'd get a recording of it before I called the police - easily done with a speaker phone and a smart phone or a tape recorder.

Good luck.

Thanks for the tip - I'm wondering if there's a way to forward a call to mobile in such a way that if you answer it on the mobile device it will stop ringing on the landline or vice versa. The point of this would be to try utilizing a service like Trapcall... I just checked and it seems Trapcall likely isn't gonna work with landline phones (or at least the lines my in-laws have). Your idea about forwarding to another line at the restaurant is a good one though - I'm assuming the caller ID will come through that way... so far we've just put the two first-in-line phones off the hook and have the third line with the caller ID unit hooked up and answering - all the prank calls have been coming from seemingly random out of state area codes, so it's likely that it's one group of idiots using a caller ID spoofer for their antics. My wife found a bunch of Youtube videos of idiot kids (and adults) prank calling Chinese restaurants and making fun or conferencing in multiple Chinese restaurants to confuse them. I guess it's a "new thing" these days, sadly. Part of the problem is that the employees here are giving in and trying to talk back which makes it only worse... the nature of the calls is basically just people calling Chinese restaurants and placing fake orders or trying to order stuff that doesn't exist. Either that or they just go silent and try to tie up the line. Many of them are just them trying to be funny though but there are probably upwards of 20-30 calls each day if I had to guess. Just in the 5-6 hours we've been here there have probably been about 10 of these prank calls. My wife asked for their phone number/address and it either doesn't match what's on caller ID or they give a fake ID. I'm sure they're recording the call in hopes of it going viral on Youtube.

Seems there might be several options to try in the immediate term:
1) Setting up a trap with AT&T (this will help determine the frequency of calls but on the carrier's side apparently...if they even have this)
2) Requesting *57 trace service (I believe this is to determine the true phone # that had just called, even if they utilized caller ID spoofing)
3) Anonymous Call Rejection (this may block some legit people though... but if I had to guess, there are likely more pranksters using private/restricted numbers to call than there are legit customers)

Otherwise, the other option is picking up one of those call-blocker units off Amazon.... problem still would be with the types of phones they have. Unless they have a technician come out and splice in a standard RJ11 jack to their main line OR install a new jack and they get another line that has the main # assigned, but that would require them reshuffling all their lines and numbers around which kinda sounds like a PITA. The more expensive option would be to update their system to one that has built-in caller ID and blocking (if that even exists).

jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2018, 08:46:18 PM »
I wonder if I could use call forwarding to forward calls to their primary to a Google Voice number (which I think would grab the phone # and even allow for blocked). Then setup forwarding in GV to forward all incoming calls to the secondary line at the restaurant... I may test this out with our cellphones. Not sure how well this would work for landlines.

Daley

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2018, 09:48:14 PM »
I wonder if I could use call forwarding to forward calls to their primary to a Google Voice number (which I think would grab the phone # and even allow for blocked). Then setup forwarding in GV to forward all incoming calls to the secondary line at the restaurant... I may test this out with our cellphones. Not sure how well this would work for landlines.

This might be a good short term solution (I wouldn't rely on GV for too long, though - especially for a business like that), and something that crossed my mind given AT&T should be able to enable call forwarding. Number spoofing or no, it at least establishes frequency and enables a way to record to help escalate things with law enforcement if need be.

I'm glad HipGnosis posted what he did, though. Dealing with old PBX setups like that was tapping a part of my brain that I haven't actively used for nearly 20 years, and was a little softer on than I care to admit to begin with.

The only thing I would add is caution with recording a call without first checking your state's phone recording laws, especially if you're in a two-party notify state. Taking a recording to the police in a two-party state (which California is) without evidence of announcing the recording process first in the recording itself might get you in trouble instead. Fortunately, Google Voice recordings do just that.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 09:56:35 PM by Daley »

jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 09:11:35 AM »
I wonder if I could use call forwarding to forward calls to their primary to a Google Voice number (which I think would grab the phone # and even allow for blocked). Then setup forwarding in GV to forward all incoming calls to the secondary line at the restaurant... I may test this out with our cellphones. Not sure how well this would work for landlines.

This might be a good short term solution (I wouldn't rely on GV for too long, though - especially for a business like that), and something that crossed my mind given AT&T should be able to enable call forwarding. Number spoofing or no, it at least establishes frequency and enables a way to record to help escalate things with law enforcement if need be.

I'm glad HipGnosis posted what he did, though. Dealing with old PBX setups like that was tapping a part of my brain that I haven't actively used for nearly 20 years, and was a little softer on than I care to admit to begin with.

The only thing I would add is caution with recording a call without first checking your state's phone recording laws, especially if you're in a two-party notify state. Taking a recording to the police in a two-party state (which California is) without evidence of announcing the recording process first in the recording itself might get you in trouble instead. Fortunately, Google Voice recordings do just that.


Thanks Daley! Yea, definitely not something we'd want to do long-term... just like how currently, after buying them a caller ID device (which I may just return since it turns out they have a caller ID phone in another area of the restaurant that we had no clue about until we looked into it when we got there), they have been resorting to leaving the primary and secondary lines off the hook so that the calls get routed to the third line so they can start logging calls. They are only doing this when they have some downtime and it's not as busy though. This is how we are also able to see that all these crank calls are coming in from random area codes, which is what is leading me to believe that it could be a group of kids (and adults) using Burner or some other spoofer. On that note, I read that with spoofing oftentimes the goal is to try to trick someone into thinking it's a local call so you end up using a number with a local area code. I'm assuming with spoofing you're not constrained to a particular area code and can pretty much fill in anything you want, right? Pretty much the same idea s Burner... so given that, is Burner actually just a call spoofer? Or is it completely different?

Daley

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2018, 12:31:23 PM »
Thanks Daley! Yea, definitely not something we'd want to do long-term... just like how currently, after buying them a caller ID device (which I may just return since it turns out they have a caller ID phone in another area of the restaurant that we had no clue about until we looked into it when we got there), they have been resorting to leaving the primary and secondary lines off the hook so that the calls get routed to the third line so they can start logging calls. They are only doing this when they have some downtime and it's not as busy though. This is how we are also able to see that all these crank calls are coming in from random area codes, which is what is leading me to believe that it could be a group of kids (and adults) using Burner or some other spoofer. On that note, I read that with spoofing oftentimes the goal is to try to trick someone into thinking it's a local call so you end up using a number with a local area code. I'm assuming with spoofing you're not constrained to a particular area code and can pretty much fill in anything you want, right? Pretty much the same idea s Burner... so given that, is Burner actually just a call spoofer? Or is it completely different?

Okay, a couple points of clarity.

A "burner" phone traditionally in telecom slang is more of a pejorative for prepaid mobile phone service where a cheap cellphone is additionally provided. Your Tracfones and whatnot. It's slang that mostly came about from a combination of these sorts of devices being popular with drug dealers before IMEI registration become mandatory during checkout, and a cultural callousness in this country to anything that's even remotely targeted at financially insolvent segments of the population, and a disposable everything social culture. Cheap to start service, no huge loss to lose is. You buy it, you "burn" off the minutes, you pitch it. Burner phone. I doubt these kids are doing that.

There is a more recent cellphone app called ""Burner" (that you're referencing) that basically took the concept of a temporary number a bit more mainstream, and frankly though it has its uses, their model is far too easy to exploit by pre-pubescent knuckleheads and can be a raging carbuncle on the caboose of society in the wrong hands. Technically, though, it's a VoIP phone service, and you actually keep the number you get for as long or as little as you want, so it's just a temporary phone number. Given the random "national" scope of the numbers, I suspect they're probably using up the free trial services of a service like Burner. That could work to your advantage. Start looking up the numbers and see which telecoms the blocks of numbers belong to.

Similar things could be said of SpoofCard and its ilk being a potential raging carbuncle, but that service is a legitimate CID spoofing service that can be used for actually faking any number you want, and you usually need to know what number you want to fake in advance. If the random calls were coming in from say numbers like 714-867-5309, 202-456-1111, 202-456-1414, 714-853-1212, 900-649-2568, 718-387-6962, 951-262-3062, 777-9311, 606-0842, 842-3089, NPA-NXX numbers to look like they're from local exchanges, non-existent area codes/exchanges, or even 555-XXXX numbers, I'd say they were using a spoofer (and at least had an actual minuscule bit of wit if some of those non-generic numbers were used - but they don't seem that smart from all that you've detailed thus far). Now don't get me wrong, CID spoofing can be useful. I outlined a valid usage scenario in the guide for using a cheaper per-minute VoIP service to do outbound calls at home from your "cellphone", but the companies I referenced for doing so require you to verify ownership of the phone number in question before you can use alternate CID info when making calls from their accounts. Actual spoofing can be relatively cheap and easy to do, but is unlikely to be used under the circumstances.

The thing is, both AT&T and local law enforcement should be doing more... but it may be an uphill battle, and a hard thing to get results on anymore given the progress of technology. AT&T needs to set a trap on the lines for a week and you'll have to record the times and dates yourself of when the events happen, but that's going to take a lot of persuasion of the Annoyance Call Bureau (no, seriously, that's what it's called). Using Call Trace will be pretty worthless. The best you can really hope for is that the numbers being used are legit temporaries, and you can trace it back to the specific provider who sells access to these numbers. Otherwise, it's not going to be an easily won battle and may just take time and patience for the storm to pass as the only other extreme option is to ditch the phone number, which will hurt business.

If you can't get this problem nailed down, and it's possible you won't, (assuming you already have stable internet access) it might be worth the time and money to update the phone system and go managed VOIP through an outfit such as VOIP.ms which gives you access to most all the useful Asterisk features for your service on their end without setting up a physical VoIP PBX on your end. Usually, adding technology and complexity is antithetical to a simpler and easier life, but sometimes the complexity can be used to your advantage, such as with dealing with these sorts of things.

Leave one non-PBX'd analog line as the fallback, and push the main numbers through a IVR pre-screen system and call treatments. Then you can filter out anonymous, fake and spammy numbers, have callers placing a delivery order to enter in their five-digit ZIP code(s) to confirm they're "local" before connecting with a live person, dumping the harassers into some pre-recorded loop of non-verbal utterances or IVR menu hell.... sky's the limit, within technical limitations of course, and if the internet goes down, you still have a way to receive and make calls (which would be legally required given you're a public business and you'll need ways to provide 911 access at all times). Might even cost less longer term than staying with AT&T as is. Cisco IP phone handsets are usually the gold standard that nobody gets fired for recommending, but Grandstream makes some decent IP phone handsets at far more reasonable prices than the Cisco handsets or trying to bridge the old Merlin equipment with a new VoIP PBX, especially if it was the newer digital. You'd probably need to bring in someone who knows what they're doing for the transition and setup, however, as some rewiring and a good router/firewall/switch setup would be prudent to add if it isn't present already - unless you're really comfortable using WiFi for the network connection, which Grandstream does make some WiFi capable IP desktop handsets for around $100 a pop. It's doable as a DIY weekend/afterhours project, but you need to be technically inclined to do so and know what you're getting into first. That may be beyond the scope of the forums here, though.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 12:36:27 PM by Daley »

jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2018, 01:01:40 PM »
Thanks Daley! Yea, definitely not something we'd want to do long-term... just like how currently, after buying them a caller ID device (which I may just return since it turns out they have a caller ID phone in another area of the restaurant that we had no clue about until we looked into it when we got there), they have been resorting to leaving the primary and secondary lines off the hook so that the calls get routed to the third line so they can start logging calls. They are only doing this when they have some downtime and it's not as busy though. This is how we are also able to see that all these crank calls are coming in from random area codes, which is what is leading me to believe that it could be a group of kids (and adults) using Burner or some other spoofer. On that note, I read that with spoofing oftentimes the goal is to try to trick someone into thinking it's a local call so you end up using a number with a local area code. I'm assuming with spoofing you're not constrained to a particular area code and can pretty much fill in anything you want, right? Pretty much the same idea s Burner... so given that, is Burner actually just a call spoofer? Or is it completely different?

Okay, a couple points of clarity.

A "burner" phone traditionally in telecom slang is more of a pejorative for prepaid mobile phone service where a cheap cellphone is additionally provided. Your Tracfones and whatnot. It's slang that mostly came about from a combination of these sorts of devices being popular with drug dealers before IMEI registration become mandatory during checkout, and a cultural callousness in this country to anything that's even remotely targeted at financially insolvent segments of the population, and a disposable everything social culture. Cheap to start service, no huge loss to lose is. You buy it, you "burn" off the minutes, you pitch it. Burner phone. I doubt these kids are doing that.

There is a more recent cellphone app called ""Burner" (that you're referencing) that basically took the concept of a temporary number a bit more mainstream, and frankly though it has its uses, their model is far too easy to exploit by pre-pubescent knuckleheads and can be a raging carbuncle on the caboose of society in the wrong hands. Technically, though, it's a VoIP phone service, and you actually keep the number you get for as long or as little as you want, so it's just a temporary phone number. Given the random "national" scope of the numbers, I suspect they're probably using up the free trial services of a service like Burner. That could work to your advantage. Start looking up the numbers and see which telecoms the blocks of numbers belong to.

Similar things could be said of SpoofCard and its ilk being a potential raging carbuncle, but that service is a legitimate CID spoofing service that can be used for actually faking any number you want, and you usually need to know what number you want to fake in advance. If the random calls were coming in from say numbers like 714-867-5309, 202-456-1111, 202-456-1414, 714-853-1212, 900-649-2568, 718-387-6962, 951-262-3062, 777-9311, 606-0842, 842-3089, NPA-NXX numbers to look like they're from local exchanges, non-existent area codes/exchanges, or even 555-XXXX numbers, I'd say they were using a spoofer (and at least had an actual minuscule bit of wit if some of those non-generic numbers were used - but they don't seem that smart from all that you've detailed thus far). Now don't get me wrong, CID spoofing can be useful. I outlined a valid usage scenario in the guide for using a cheaper per-minute VoIP service to do outbound calls at home from your "cellphone", but the companies I referenced for doing so require you to verify ownership of the phone number in question before you can use alternate CID info when making calls from their accounts. Actual spoofing can be relatively cheap and easy to do, but is unlikely to be used under the circumstances.

The thing is, both AT&T and local law enforcement should be doing more... but it may be an uphill battle, and a hard thing to get results on anymore given the progress of technology. AT&T needs to set a trap on the lines for a week and you'll have to record the times and dates yourself of when the events happen, but that's going to take a lot of persuasion of the Annoyance Call Bureau (no, seriously, that's what it's called). Using Call Trace will be pretty worthless. The best you can really hope for is that the numbers being used are legit temporaries, and you can trace it back to the specific provider who sells access to these numbers. Otherwise, it's not going to be an easily won battle and may just take time and patience for the storm to pass as the only other extreme option is to ditch the phone number, which will hurt business.

If you can't get this problem nailed down, and it's possible you won't, (assuming you already have stable internet access) it might be worth the time and money to update the phone system and go managed VOIP through an outfit such as VOIP.ms which gives you access to most all the useful Asterisk features for your service on their end without setting up a physical VoIP PBX on your end. Usually, adding technology and complexity is antithetical to a simpler and easier life, but sometimes the complexity can be used to your advantage, such as with dealing with these sorts of things.

Leave one non-PBX'd analog line as the fallback, and push the main numbers through a IVR pre-screen system and call treatments. Then you can filter out anonymous, fake and spammy numbers, have callers placing a delivery order to enter in their five-digit ZIP code(s) to confirm they're "local" before connecting with a live person, dumping the harassers into some pre-recorded loop of non-verbal utterances or IVR menu hell.... sky's the limit, within technical limitations of course, and if the internet goes down, you still have a way to receive and make calls (which would be legally required given you're a public business and you'll need ways to provide 911 access at all times). Might even cost less longer term than staying with AT&T as is. Cisco IP phone handsets are usually the gold standard that nobody gets fired for recommending, but Grandstream makes some decent IP phone handsets at far more reasonable prices than the Cisco handsets or trying to bridge the old Merlin equipment with a new VoIP PBX, especially if it was the newer digital. You'd probably need to bring in someone who knows what they're doing for the transition and setup, however, as some rewiring and a good router/firewall/switch setup would be prudent to add if it isn't present already - unless you're really comfortable using WiFi for the network connection, which Grandstream does make some WiFi capable IP desktop handsets for around $100 a pop. It's doable as a DIY weekend/afterhours project, but you need to be technically inclined to do so and know what you're getting into first. That may be beyond the scope of the forums here, though.

Thanks... yea, when I was talking about "Burner" I was referring to the smartphone app and not the physical prepaid phones that are coined "burners" to use and trash immediately after.

I'll have to take some time to read and digest all that was written but regarding updating their system, my wife is hesitant to take that route for a few main reasons:
1) They are old and used to their antiquated way of doing things
2) The effort and costs involved of implementing a new phone system when they keep talking about being "a few years out from retirement"
3) We (or I, rather) become the main point of technical support (and thus added pressure) for when things go wrong with the newly implemented system. Especially if it's VOIP where their current internet is basic DSL (not sure if this is ideal for small business... they did recently convert their fax line to UVerse digital though)

Of course, if nothing improves with the situation they may get really desperate and just have a new system installed regardless. We'll see...

BTW: with mobile phones and apps like "Burner" etc can the telco still see the CNID? Or is that all different when it comes down to mobile vs landline?

I just looked up a few of the numbers we recorded while we were there using https://www.usanumberbook.net/phonenumber/ (is there a better site for this or will this work?) - two are VZW and one is Cingular
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 01:24:52 PM by jeromedawg »

jeromedawg

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2018, 05:33:16 PM »
So I contacted ATT and the first rep activated call trace and said it would cost per use. She was looking up a number for the Call Annoyance Bureau (or whatever it's called) and then the line disconnected...

I called back and spoke with another rep who then informed me that call trace incurs a $12/mo fee PER line because these accounts are month-to-month rather than pay-per-use... what?! Super-confusing.

I then asked about the trap and she said only law enforcement can request that once they have your case and inquire with us to trap calls. I then asked what good is us paying for a trace that they may or may not use then? And she went on to essentially explain that the trace captures incoming calls (and not the originating number only the spoofed, which is what the trap would be used for)... great, so I'm basically paying for AT&T to start logging incoming calls that I don't have access to? Why would I pay for that if I can just use caller ID and log the numbers myself? In the case of my in-laws, it *might* be worth paying for the trace but only once the PD gets back to us and tells us they will investigate. A complete catch-22 and huge black hole is what it sounds like...

I ended up cancelling the request for call tracing and told her we would just figure out caller ID logging on our own. My wife's cousin is a police officer in a different division of LAPD so we're going to ask him to see if he can check on the case and who's assigned and maybe nudge them in the right direction... I think the local PD probably thinks this is not a big deal but the number of calls they received in that short time frame was pretty ridiculous. It's unbelievable that AT&T is unwilling to do more to advocate for their customers. Now I'm really considering urging my in-laws to drop them and get cable modem and VOIP service at the restaurant. It'll probably be worth their sanity just dealing with non-ATT customer service and support even if they don't fully resolve the prank calls!


BTW: are there other fax services similar to or better than Voip.ms? Or is that the one 'tried and true' one? It seems like it's very DIY where you BYOD for everything and deal with the installation yourself?


UPDATE: we just setup the intermediary Google Voice 'trap' for call logging. It's spotty at best and we will likely end up having them disable call forwarding to it tomorrow. After more testing, we realized that Google Voice Voicemail cannot be disabled at all, so after 4 rings or 25 seconds, users will *always* get directed to Google Voicemail. This is impractical and undesirable because the restaurant doesn't even have an answering machine or voicemail and the phone will just keep ringing normally otherwise. Google Voice stopping and redirecting to VM after 4 rings will likely cause them to miss calls and will probably end up resulting in more trouble than anything.
Is there another way to forward calls on outside of Google Voice?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 01:50:04 AM by jeromedawg »

Daley

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Re: Question regarding caller ID on older business phone lines and systems
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2018, 07:42:38 AM »
BTW: with mobile phones and apps like "Burner" etc can the telco still see the CNID? Or is that all different when it comes down to mobile vs landline?

I just looked up a few of the numbers we recorded while we were there using https://www.usanumberbook.net/phonenumber/ (is there a better site for this or will this work?) - two are VZW and one is Cingular

If they're actually using a service like Burner, they're using straight VoIP to place calls, it's internet to virtual PBX to PSTN. Thus the need for numbers if it is from a service like them, then they can cross reference user accounts with call times and IP addresses. In a situation like this, the CID would be accurate, but only helpful to the VoIP provider for tracking down the offending user.

Now, if it's pinging legit phone numbers from various providers, we shouldn't rule out spoofing. Unfortunately, this is a high tech annoyance and there's not much that can be done as you're discovering... no matter how "illegal" and harassing it is.

So I contacted ATT and the first rep activated call trace and said it would cost per use. She was looking up a number for the Call Annoyance Bureau (or whatever it's called) and then the line disconnected...

I called back and spoke with another rep who then informed me that call trace incurs a $12/mo fee PER line because these accounts are month-to-month rather than pay-per-use... what?! Super-confusing.

I then asked about the trap and she said only law enforcement can request that once they have your case and inquire with us to trap calls. I then asked what good is us paying for a trace that they may or may not use then? And she went on to essentially explain that the trace captures incoming calls (and not the originating number only the spoofed, which is what the trap would be used for)... great, so I'm basically paying for AT&T to start logging incoming calls that I don't have access to? Why would I pay for that if I can just use caller ID and log the numbers myself? In the case of my in-laws, it *might* be worth paying for the trace but only once the PD gets back to us and tells us they will investigate. A complete catch-22 and huge black hole is what it sounds like...

I ended up cancelling the request for call tracing and told her we would just figure out caller ID logging on our own.

Yup...
Using Call Trace will be pretty worthless.

BTW: are there other fax services similar to or better than Voip.ms? Or is that the one 'tried and true' one? It seems like it's very DIY where you BYOD for everything and deal with the installation yourself?

How so? Not many VoIP providers have both inbound and outbound FAX services, but most all virtual FAX services are just that... virtual. It's FAX by email, which most services pretty well work the same, with cost being the big differential. VOIP.ms's FAX prices are actually some of the most reasonable, but the addition of the service for them is more recent. Incoming gets converted to PDF, outbound documents get converted to T.4 FAX. This isn't to say that you can't set up a physical FAX machine on a VoIP line (FoIP), but you have to have a lot of bandwidth, low latency, the proper codecs available from the provider (preferably T.38 or less ideal G.711μ/a w/o silence suppression), and the proper ATA with T.38 support to make it work. It's similar to trying to make older security systems and PERS systems work over VoIP instead of just keeping a landline for it or upgrading the alarm box to use GSM. It's doable, but sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and modernize. FAX over email can be pretty nice, but I can also understand how some people prefer to hold paper in their hands.

For what it's worth, CallCentric does support T.38, but the tech is limited to transmission rates of 14.4 kbit/s and you have to turn off ECM at the machine. Just know, it's far more error prone and touchy than FAX over email as machines transmitting data are far more sensitive to data packet loss than the human ear. If FAXes are never sent, but having physical paper for incoming printed out in real time is important (which I can see for a restaurant), a networked printer with a print-to email address might be one solution as you could forward/CC the incoming FAX to email PDFs to the printer's email address.

UPDATE: we just setup the intermediary Google Voice 'trap' for call logging. It's spotty at best and we will likely end up having them disable call forwarding to it tomorrow. After more testing, we realized that Google Voice Voicemail cannot be disabled at all, so after 4 rings or 25 seconds, users will *always* get directed to Google Voicemail. This is impractical and undesirable because the restaurant doesn't even have an answering machine or voicemail and the phone will just keep ringing normally otherwise. Google Voice stopping and redirecting to VM after 4 rings will likely cause them to miss calls and will probably end up resulting in more trouble than anything.
Is there another way to forward calls on outside of Google Voice?

You could do this with any VoIP provider, VOIP.ms included, just make sure to disable voicemail or set it to ring for like 90 seconds with its part in the call forwarding chain. Understand, though, that you'll be double billed for minutes as you'll be using both incoming and outgoing with the VoIP provider.