How to Fend Off Unwelcome Callers

Posted on October 28th, 2010

Recently, a group of concerned parents asked me about how to control incoming calls on their children’s cell phones. While each carrier is different, here is a guide to the possibilities.

AT&T

For five bucks per month, AT&T offers a feature called Smart Limits. It’s intended to allow parents to limit how much their little Sally and Timmy can text, call, and surf the web, but it also provides the option to block certain numbers.

The process is easy: After adding the feature to your monthly plan, an extra little option will appear when you log in to your AT&T account. You’ll be able to add up to 15 numbers which’ll be unable to call or text you. The block is effective the instant you add the numbers—and you can edit things whenever you want to.

There is one downside to Smart Limits, though: It can’t block some phone-specific features. So someone could still try contacting you via BlackBerry Push-to-Talk or attempt initiating iPhone FaceTime calls.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s parental control feature, Family Allowances, is also five bucks a month. It allows you to block up to ten numbers at a time, and, just like AT&T’s Smart Limits, you manage your list on the T-Mobile website.

The weakness of the Family Allowances feature is that calls from numbers on your “Never Allow” list can go through when you’re roaming.

If it’s just text messages that are annoying you, T-Mobile does offer a free—but extremely limited—Message Blocking option. It can only be used to either block all text messages or to filter out ones originating from email addresses.

Verizon

Verizon offers a great and free way to keep unwanted calls and texts away: Spam Controls. The feature allows you to block calls, texts, and picture messages from up to five numbers by either logging on to the Verizon Wireless site or by calling up customer support.

If you need to block more numbers than that, then you can add Verizon’s Usage Controls feature for an extra five bones a month. That’ll give you the ability to block up to 20 numbers.

Sprint

If you’re a Sprint customer who is desperately looking for a way to block specific phone numbers, I don’t have good news for you just yet.

After consulting with various representatives I discovered that Sprint briefly offered a way of blocking calls but got rid of it because there were “too many glitches.” If you can hold out for another month, though, you might be OK: A Sprint representative said that the feature should finally re-launch in early November. There aren’t too many details about the feature aside from an unconfirmed suggestion that it will be free and allow you to block up to 50 numbers.

While currently lacking when it comes to blocking calls, Sprint does offer one of the simplest ways to block text messages. All you have to do is send a message to short code 9999 containing the word “block” followed by whatever email address, short code, or phone number you wish to block. If you change your mind about that person, just send the same sort of message with “allow” in place of “block”.

Solutions Not Reliant On Carriers

There are also ways to defend against annoying calls that don’t require any help from the carriers. In most cases they’re messy and not entirely satisfying, but they do the trick in a pinch: You can set silent ringers for specific phonebook entries, third-party applications for Blackberry, Android, and iOS. Or you could be clever and do it yourself: Lifehacker has some very powerful tips on how to use Google Voice to keep those evil rings at bay.

 

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Three things:

Posted on October 12th, 2010

Hello Everyone!

DVD’s are here!

I have finally finished recording most of my topics to DVD. These DVD’s are extended versions of my live presentations. The video is a combination of my presentation material along with screen captures of actual demonstrations. The audio is me guiding you through the presentation. I have the following topics:

Protecting Yourself from Computer Crime - Level One
Protecting Yourself from Computer Crime - Level Two
Locating Personal Information Online - Level One
Locating Personal Information Online - Level Two
Protecting Your Business' Online Presence - Level One
Protecting Your Business' Online Presence - Level Two
Child Safety on the Internet for Parents & Teens - Level One
Child Safety on the Internet for Parents & Teens - Level Two
Computer Maintenance and Repair - Level One
Computer Maintenance and Repair - Level Two

All of these titles can be securely ordered online from my site at: http://computercrimeinfo.com/video.sessions.html. There is a substantial discount when the DVD’s are ordered in sets, and even more when ordered as a complete set. I can also include a single video file with the order for no charge so that the instruction can easily be viewed on a computer.


New Topic

I have developed the following presentation offering all new material:

Protecting Your Business’ Online Presence (2 Hours) [DVD Available]
This interactive session identifies and demonstrates several methods of protecting your business’ presence and image on the internet. Techniques to search for public and private commentary, reviews, and various information relevant to your business will be conducted live including methods to automate the process and bring the results to you. These queries will discover publicly available information that could harm an organization including complaints about service, employee information, comments from individuals, photos that can be tracked to the company, employee activity online, employee profiles, private emails, inaccurate information, confidential documents, and even private customer data exposure. Previous demonstrations have displayed that entire drives full of company documents were visible online by anyone with an internet connection. The audience will learn how to monitor social networking sites for mention of their business, how to respond to negative information posted to online communities, and how to control the information presented to potential customers through search engines and mobile applications. Solutions to solve all of these issues will be presented, as well as direct links to the sites that will help one identify the problems.

Additionally, I have updated all of my previous presentations which can be found on my website at www.computercrimeinfo.com

Chicago area opening

I have a recent cancellation in the Chicago area that leaves me available on the morning of 11/22/10 or any time on 11/23/2010. If you are interested in reserving either of these dates, please contact booking@computercrimeinfo.com.

Finally, a huge THANK YOU to all of you that have had me speak for your organization. I am continuously amazed at the abundance of concerned individuals determined to make a difference by avoiding computer crime.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly at mike@computercrimeinfo.com.

Sincerely grateful,

Mike

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