Is It Finally Happening? Will Skype Soon Become What We feared?

June 20, 2006

skypeYou may have heard in the media recently that Voice-over-IP is poised to become the next mass medium for advertising on the web, and we could soon be getting telemarketing calls on our Skype connections. Those of you who denied Skype would ever allow this to happen may soon be eating your words, as I fear it may have just occurred.

While having a conversation with my friend, Joe Klein, of the PodcastVoiceGuys he told me that he had another call coming in and asked me to hold for a moment. A couple minutes later he came back on the line and told me that the call was a recorded message that appeared to be a telemarketing pitch–in Spanish!

Joe said he couldn’t believe that he just received what he thought to be a telemarketing call on Skype. I jumped out of my skin, realising that this ghastly plague may already be affecting the vast Skype community!

Our worst fears may just have been realised, I thought. We’re are not even free of advertising on VOIP anymore.

Ironically for the last several minutes as Joe and I have tried to further discuss the situation both our Skype connections have been experiencing some of the worst glitches, latency and drop-offs that either of us have had in the last several weeks. And we had to resort to speaking on a regular telephone line!

Here's a serious thought to ponder…

Could an emerging Blitzkrieg of recorded mass telemarketing calls already be affecting the Skype system – gobbling up precious and needed bandwidth? Let us pray that this dreaded plethora of telemarketing activity does not translate into one massive ongoing denial of service attack on our beloved Skype network.

Click here for the DIGG ARTICLE

To read my follow up and response – Please click HERE



42 Responses to “Is It Finally Happening? Will Skype Soon Become What We feared?”

  1. Grokodile Says:

    Oh oh. I hope they have built their system with the expectation that people will attempt to abuse their free services? Oh well, I guess there is some comfort in knowing that when it isn’t completely free people won’t be able to afford to spam as much.


  2. tektrekgamer Says:

    I know. I am not quite sure what to say at this point. Skype is totally screwed up as I type this email I am barely able to maintain a connection that is usually an excellent line. I am almost at a loss for words!

  3. nature Says:

    To be honest I thought it would only be a matter of time, especially after SkypeOut became free in North America.

  4. tektrekgamer Says:

    Thats a good point. I just think this needs to get out there!

  5. Joe Klein Says:

    Right on, dude! I’m so glad you posted this! All we need now is one more plague of Telemarketing to make our day! Just when I thought it was safe to communicate, this blatent invasion of my privacy rears its ugly head! We need to nip this one in the bud before our ability to communnicate via SKYPE is hindered beyond a reasonable doubt! Thanks for having the integrity to get this story out!

  6. Knightwise Says:

    Voipspam .. it was only a matter of time. We have two options , leave the spam coming in , or disable the function so only people in our list can call us. In tha last case Skype will lose much of its appeal and Ebay might just have bought itsellf a dead hamster.

  7. Adam Says:

    I think there may be more to this than just Skype. My parents aren’t too tech-savvy and so they use a prepaid Tracfone cell phone for emergencies and such. Lately they have gotten several calls and voice messages from something that sounds suspiciously similar — a Spanish-language telemarketing spiel. The number is 512-717-9980. I would be interested to see if this is the same entity making the Skype calls.

  8. Harry Max Says:

    Full disclosure: I co-authored “Skype: The Definitive Guide” for Que Publishing.

    Personally, I think the “whitelist” functionality that Skype provides is awesome; and it prevents all unwanted telemarketing calls.

    I wish I could pre-authorize people on my cell phone the same way that Skype allows me to control who is calling.

    With Skype, I have set my preferences (tools -> options – > privacy) so that only people I pre-screen can call me (even though I let anybody send me a text message). I know that some people want everybody and anybody to be able to call, however, this approach seems to work great for me.

  9. tcross99 Says:

    I got a telemarketing call from a sweat shop trying to setup appoints for their client. Client sold VoIP infrastructure and services. Call kept breaking up and eventually dropped my side of the conversation. He called back. I asked what service he was using. Skype!

  10. Dan Says:

    ‘Whitelist’ is a great feature, and i’m confident the Skype/eBay team can work to keep this hampster (buyers and sellers) breathing a little longer. That leaves the bandwidth issue, this should only burden the spammer if we whitewash calls right?

  11. Neal Saferstein Says:

    Giving free Skype Out is definetly giving amunition for diastor.

    Neal Saferstein

  12. Telco 2.0 Says:

    Spam: a telco’s best friend?

    A Skype user reports his first telemarketing spam: While having a conversation with my friend, Joe Klein, of the PodcastVoiceGuys he told me that he had another call coming in and asked me to hold for a moment. A couple…

  13. matt Says:

    Not really that shocking.

    If the plain old telephone system has cheap phone calls resulting in lots of telemarketing, why would you expect VOIP with it’s free phone calls to have less or the same level? Surely it will eventually have more telemarketing?

    The saving point may be the smarter identification systems you can build in to these systems (such as whitelisting mentioned above).

  14. Alan Says:

    When I first got skype back in the really early versions I used to get calls from automated bots a lot… Its relativly calm now! This ISNT new.

  15. Sven Says:

    What is the problem with charging really small amounts for calls. No prob for every individual, but this way you keep the bad guys from spamming us with useless stuff.
    The spam approach only works when its free, cause it is just not targeted at all – it’s like a shot in the dark which would get unafordable, if money becomes involved…

    You could even design methods, that allow the standard user like you and me to claim to little money spent back….

    …just an idea 😉 -maybe worth a try…

  16. Keith Says:

    I have been starting to get spams from Skype messaging system as well. It shows that spams has started to evolve from email spams to voice spam.. and even text messaging spams.

  17. Nick Says:

    Paypal owns Skype, so they already have the answer – use a feeback system on the calls you receive. Then you can set your system to block any calls from users with negative feedback. Easy to rate the calls: the call is considered ‘good’ unless you specifically flag it as bad, which you’d do with a simple button press during/after the call. When the bad users reach a negative-feedback limit (which should be pretty quick if they are spam calls), Skype shuts them down and doesn’t let them on the system. Any comments on this idea?

  18. Nick Says:

    Sorry, I meant eBay owns Skype, but they are all the same big happy family!

  19. Telemarketing on Skype? Our worst fears being realised?

    If this is true–if telemarketers are going to invade my VoIP–then we must call for controls. A spammer/telemarketer button, perhaps? Sophisticated Caller-ID or call blocking? I don’t know, but I’m going to be so irritated if I start getting spammed…

  20. […] Chi di voi utilizza con soddisfazione il VOIP? State pronti, tra un po' arriverà anche qua il telemarketing su voip . Quindi appena noi comunichiamo con il mondo ci arriva un messaggio pubblicitario. Grandi opportunità per nuove forme di ADV. Non solo VOIP ma anche Podcast (chi ascolta una trasmissione podcast difficilmente va avanti se sente un gingle). […]

  21. Ozy Says:

    Based on one incident, I think this is a lame panic story. This is the kind of bull that does damage to a good thing.

    I have no excess love for ebay, but Skype has been very, very good to me, and to you. It’s only a big company, but it beats the hell out of Vonage and other rip-offs. It’s one thing to lament telemarketing, but to jump to this conclusion is bogus.

    Based on one (1) incident, you write on Digg:

    “This is my own blog entry but I feel it is important enough digg because it could be such a massive deal. Looks like telemarketing has finally invaded Skype and may already being seriously hampering its connectivity and quality.”


    Based on one incident. I agree with the guy who commented:

    “Ummm… you work for Vonage?
    Is this the other VOIP providers idea of a scare tactic?
    **start sarcasm**
    “don’t support Skype unless you want to be bombarded with calls from telemarketers!”
    **end sarcasm** ”

    Blogs are mostly empty echo-chambers (mine included). This is a perfect example.

  22. […] Today, well yesterday Sebastian posted a story on his blog. The post was essentially about Skype spam. Anyway the story got put up on Digg and ended up on the front page. Sebastian has experienced a pretty big jump in traffic on his blog, to say the least. For Sebastian this has been a big confidence boost, there is however, more to the story than that. […]

  23. rockwatching Says:

    Hey, if there is money in it and it can happen it will! Cant imagine that any media will not be exploited for profit, I mean money is what drives communication, it is the root of the whole system. As for telemarketers, they are a blight, my phone rings non stop, it is a total invasion of my privacy. Mick

  24. I think a combination of basic authorization and going after abusers of the system will be good enough.

  25. […] A firestorm of Skype users are ranting and debating a recent report of Spanish spam coming to a Skype user unsolicited. […]

  26. Justin Says:

    Yeah i’ve heard alot about skype set to become the next mass media to be used to circulation of “voice spam” and unwanted telemarketers. Its enough we have telemarketers calling us every night on our home phones, it would be great to be able to use skype without them harassing us on there too!

    Great post, well done!

  27. Lars Says:

    This sucks. I already got a couple calls as well. It’s especialy bad when I am using call forward, because then I am actualy paying to recieve a marketing call. I also get more and more calls from foreigners even though I am in invisible mode or so. It’s really getting frustrating.

  28. […] See the parent article for this HERE        See the article HERE […]

  29. Telemarketers Targeting Skype Users?

    A friend of mine in the UK was on a Skype call with another person I know out in Nevada when they were interrupted with another incoming call. It was directed at the caller in Nevada, and when he answered…

  30. mutiny Says:

    Skype is pretty useless if you live outside North America and Europe. Calls to the Middle East and India are very expensive.

  31. farlane Says:

    “A firestorm of Skype users are ranting and debating a recent report of Spanish spam coming to a Skype user unsolicited.” ??

    The internet is funny. The feedback and whitelisting functionality are probably one of the biggest things going for VoIP.

  32. […] So, between the recent appearance of telemarketers on Skype (and subsequent network load), and the brand new FCC tax on VoIP services that connect to traditional phone lines, I have to wonder if greed is going to ruin the promise of broadband phone service. […]

  33. […] This is my own blog entry but I feel it is important enough digg because it could be such a massive deal. Looks like telemarketing has finally invaded Skype and may already being seriously hampering its connectivity and more | digg story […]

  34. Charles Says:

    I’m being driven crazy by calls placed to my cellphone from telemarketers in India using VOIP. The appear to have purchased at least 9 VOIP numbers from Comcast, Pacific Bell and other VOIP suppliers. I guess they ship the VOIP boxes off to India or use VOIP software to place the calls.
    Like clockwork I get calls every day asking if Maggie is there. When I say no they ask if I want to buy drugs from their pharmacy!
    I’ve put the numbers in my phone under the name Junk Caller so that when they call I can simply ignore them, but I am amazed that every few days they have another number. I’ve complained to Comcast since they had one of their VOIP numbers in the Phoenix area but it hasn’t stopped them. Here’s the list of numbers as of 2-15-07:
    Is anyone else having this problem?

  35. Tim Says:

    RE: Charles,

    Just got a brand new cell number four days ago and have constantly been hit by these bastards asking for “Scott”. I did a search for 650-228-7771 – the number from which I was called just got ten minutes ago – to see who owns it and found this page. That caller offered me “free medications”. Yesterday it was a pyramid scheme from a toll-free number. In between have been lots of international calls by people who are obviously within call centers because they do not hear my first two “hello’s”.

    Most irritating. Thank you for clarifying what I have been experiencing.

  36. mosyz Says:

    On my Treo, i routinely add these junk-spam phone call numbers to Contacts called “Telemarketers” and “Ignore”. Then i configure the ringer for that contact to “No Sound”. This also works with the CallFilter app. Once the number ends up in the call log, tap on the number, tap the drop down menu –> “Add Contact” then “Add” to the Telemarketer contact. Quick to do.

    Occassionally, i accidentally answer one, to which i ask “Can you hold on for just a sec?” Then i accidentally hang up.

    My list so far:
    +90633 (yes, that’s right)


  37. […] Curry to Michael Westmore to the holographic doctor himself, Robert Picardo. When I blogged that telemarketers were using Skype, the entire blogosphere talked about it.  I was now “a writer” and I took my craft to […]

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