End User internet security voip

How to tell if a phone call is going to be a scammer

Most people have picked up scam phone call at sometime in their recent short lives. I’ve noticed that they all have similar characteristics in that when you pick up the phone there is always a second or two of silence followed by a foreign voice saying “can I speak to Mr Davies please?” (replace Davies with your own name obv). It’s down to the latency over the internet.

It’s also because they are using some cheapo poor quality VoIP service. Thinking about it, their conversion rate would be much higher if they spent a bit more cash on better quality comms. The quality of their internet access is particularly important although in their case it might not make that much difference as I suspect the packets are traversing the internet for most of their journey. A good quality VoIP provider will hardly touch the internet, if at all.

I’ve adopted the practice, upon hearing the noisy silence before the attempt at a con, of being very familiar “I thought it was you. I wondered when you were going to call”. This tends to confuse them momentarily. All these scammers sound the same to me anyway. It’s probably the bad line but it might always be the same person. Would explain how they always seem to know my name.

That’s how you tell it’s a scammer. It’s all about the noisy silence before they realise you’ve answered the phone.

A public service blog post from

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “How to tell if a phone call is going to be a scammer”

The delay isn’t just latency, it’s also down to the system they use for detecting whether or not a human has actually picked up the phone. Some legit businesses use this too so it’s not just scammers but usually you won’t notice because you’ll be the one making the call.

Systems like this auto-dial hundreds of people at a time and then inform operators when somebody picks up, which adds an extra delay while the human reaches for their phone and presses a button to engage.

As always it’s best not to engage in any remote-side initiated sales talk over the phone for consumer services. Just hang up and if you do like the product then call back directly on an officially recognised and verified number.

Cold callers are absolute pits. Any company who uses these poor people (usually university students trying to earn some cash) wants their bumps feeling. Even if I wanted the product I certainly wouldn’t engage with them. I usually ask them to hold, but they only hold for 30 seconds, I just think it saves someone else dashing inside to answer the phone to them for a short while. What got me really cross is the company who got a few million from the last round of government broadband funding used cold calling, an absolutely shameful waste of our money.

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