This page last updated on 01/26/2019.
Copyright © 2001-2019 by Russ Meyer
One day the whole family piled into the van for a day-trip out somewhere. When we got back, there were 12 messages on the answering machine. Playing them back, we discovered two were from friends and the other ten were telemarketers! This pretty well summed up our daily phone experience. The Telemarketer Scum had turned a wonderful invention like the telephone into a bane. We frequently did not answer our phone at all because it was usually THEM. It had gotten to the point where I would just cringe when the phone rang.
After enduring years of torture at their hands, something changed inside of me; frustration dissolved into grim determination. A singular thought obsessed my brain; propelled by a hot coal of growing rage. I had to beat them...I HAD to beat this Telemarketer Scum! I began hatching a multi-layered defensive plan.
The first thing to do was change our phone number. That would throw them off for a few weeks, but they would eventually rediscover our new number in the phone directory. No, no...the phone number had to be unlisted so they couldn't find it. We would only give the number out to family and close friends. That would work most of the time, but we would also need to occasionally give it to commercial entities like the doctor's office, and who knows what unscrupulous things would happen to it after that! Businesses buy and sell phone lists all the time.
We really needed two phone numbers, one for friends and family, and one for commercial entities. I decided to get a second phone number assigned to my phone line. If someone dialed the primary number the phone would ring normally. If someone dialed the secondary number, the phone would give two short rings. When we dialed out, our primary phone number would be presented to anyone with a Caller ID box. That posed a problem, because businesses often obtain your phone number off their Caller ID boxes and add you to their phone lists. I decided to let our primary number be the "public" number and our secondary number be our "private" number. No one would ever see the private number on their Caller ID box. The secondary number had to be unlisted too.
When someone called us using the primary number, I wanted to route them immediately to an answering machine. Someone calling on the primary number probably wouldn't be someone we would want to talk to anyway. I needed another answering machine for the secondary number. To make all this work, I needed something that could recognize what type of ring the phone was making...one long ring (public number) or two short rings (private number)...and direct the call to the appropriate answering machine. I found a Distinctive Ring Decoder on the internet that would do just that. Cool!
One last thing remained. Sometimes Telemarketer Scum will just randomly dial numbers fishing for an answer. They use automated dialers to do this. Since they are dialing randomly, they don't know whether the number is valid or not. If they find a number that's invalid, they delete it from their phone number database. I needed some way to fool their autodialing equipment into thinking my phone number was invalid if they happened to stumble upon it. When their autodialers place a call, they listen for a three-tone signal called a Special Information Tone (SIT). The phone company plays this tone to tell equipment on the other end of the line that the number is invalid. Adding a SIT to the beginning of the answering machine greetings should throw the autodialers off the scent.
I've been using this set-up for some time now, and it works great. No more Telemarketer Scum interrupting dinner, leaving loads of useless messages on our answering machines, etc. It's probably an expensive way to combat them, but it works.
Here's the stuff I had to buy:
Other stuff I needed:
The answering machine connected to the public line is set up to answer after 3 rings; the one connected to the private line answers after 7 rings. Here's how it was all hooked together: