I’m glad to see that people are finally thinking about ways to improve the blacklist and call screening capabilities. I have mixed feelings about the whitelist approach, though. Yes, it guarantees that those who call from recognized numbers will get through. But what it doesn’t do is give us a good way to solve the real root problem, which is how to we reject calls from telemarketers and spam callers while allowing calls from people we may wish to talk to even if they are calling from an unknown number.
Here is the nightmare scenario - your teenage son or daughter is in a car wreck and when they realize what has happened, they also realize you can’t find their phone - maybe it was ejected from the car, or hidden under a mangled seat or whatever. A passerby or first responder offers the use of their phone and they try to call home but the call isn’t from a recognized number and so is rejected. They can barely speak coherently so any kind of voice recognition fails. Eventually they are taken to a hospital but if the hospital tries to call the same thing happens because their number isn’t recognized either. You get the point. This is why I think a whitelist is a great idea as a preliminary check, but failing the whitelist should probably not mean that the call gets summarily dropped. And you really have to give some thought as to how hard you want to make it to put a call through, for example relying on a code that has to be memorized could cause a problem if a person can barely remember their name. But if you make it too easy then any telemarketer, survey taker, political caller, donation solicitor, or outright fraudster can get through.
Of all the things I have seen suggested to stop annoyance calls, there are two that have given me the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak. One is blocklisting certain repeat callers by Caller ID name. There are certain companies that will call from different numbers but they always use the same Caller ID name, so that traps them. But that only works with annoying repeat callers.
The other thing is something I first read about on another forum a few years ago, and the idea is to block ANY call coming from an exchange or “thousands block” owned by one of two specific telephone companies. These two companies together own millions of phone numbers in the USA, and I don’t recall ever getting a wanted call from one of their numbers, but most of the unwanted calls I get come from one of their numbers. I’m not going to say the name of those two companies (they might be litigious types) but if you get a lot of “bad” calls, take a look at the numbers they come from and go to a site such as https://www.telcodata.us/search-area-code-exchange-detail and put in the area code and first three digits of the number, then scroll down if necessary to find the correct “thousands block” (4th digit of the 7 digit number). After you do that for several different unwanted calls you should begin to see a pattern develop, and if you are like me you will find the vast majority come from one company in particular with a smaller but significant minority coming from another.
What I would wish is that we had a quick and easy way to do a real time lookup of the first seven digits of a ten digit number to determine which company it belongs to, and then reject the call if the number is owned by a company known to host pretty much nothing but annoyance callers. I have tried building lists of area codes and exchanges and “thousands blocks” owned by those companies but they keep acquiring more “thousands blocks” all the time, and tend to give annoyance callers numbers from their newest blocks, so it is very much a moving target. I don’t know if telcodata.us is the only site where you can get this information but in any case I don’t know of any way to do a lookup in real time on a given number, even though I know the Superfecta module queries there to lookup a city and state associated with the exchange.
The only other thing I have wished forever is that the blocklist would recognize patterns and not just numbers. So if you wanted to reject calls from area codes outside the USA and Canada, you could do that. Or if you wanted to reject calls from invalid area codes (that start with 0 or 1, for example), by simply including a pattern such as XXXXXXXXX.
Just some things to consider down the road. I do think the whitelist module is a great first step but hope that more tools for call screening will be developed in time. It has gotten to the point where many of us get as many or more annoyance calls in a day as wanted calls!