Is my identity being stolen?
September 3, 2009 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Is this odd cell phone phishing or normal wrong number?

Just got a call on my cell from a number I didn't recognize, and picked it up on the chance it was something real. The person at the other end asked for me (by first name only, I think) and said "this is so-and-so with IslandOne" and waited expectantly. I had no idea what that was and said so.

She seemed nonplussed and said that this must be a wrong number, then made as if to hang up. I said "you knew my name, so this might not be a wrong number; what is this in relation to?" She (still seemingly nonplussed) said something absurd like "car wash" and hung up.

I Googled IslandOne and found a resort company in Florida, the same area code as the mystery call. However, a reverse lookup indicates the number is a cell, which seems odd to use for official business.

I tried calling the number back (from a work phone, which is a different area code from mine altogether) and it goes right to a generic voicemailbox. Also very odd.

So now some random person in Florida knows my (first at least) name and cell number. Could this call have been some odd means of phishing for this info before using this for some kind of identity theft thing? Or might the person be legit and someone with my first name is trying to do business with them using my cell number? If so, why would this person be so strange on the phone when it was clear the I wasn't the person who gave them the number?

What do you think I can/should do to figure out what's going on here? Any precautionary measures perhaps?

I won't include the number in the message lest the owner Google on it, but if it helps I can provide it via mail or something.

Thanks for helping to resolve this weirdness!
posted by sesquipedalia to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
I think you're getting paranoid.

However, a reverse lookup indicates the number is a cell, which seems odd to use for official business.

Lots of people use cell phones and blackberries to make business calls. Are you assuming this person was a telemarketer? It sounds more like she's an executive like an event planner or a salesperson or the like, and she genuinely got the wrong number.
posted by muddgirl at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2009

If your first name is the same as in your profile, it is very common. I'd imagine the odds of a wrong number for someone with your name to be very high.
posted by Houstonian at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2009

Possible... but my name isn't so generic that the person she'd intended to call having the same name would be that likely a coincidence, I think. Plus, if this were a normal business call I'd have expected the "what is this in relation to?" question to have been answered truthfully if quickly and not something out of left field like "car wash".
posted by sesquipedalia at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2009

WhoCalled has some entries on subsidiaries of this company. 1 2
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on September 3, 2009

(if you don't feel like reading the links, it's a vacation scam)
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on September 3, 2009

And a normal cell phone (especially one used for business) would normally have an outgoing message on it, since prospective clients might call back. That's the thing that diverges the most from the "normal wrong number" scenario in my mind.

Or maybe I am being paranoid. Time to wrap the passport in tinfoil...
posted by sesquipedalia at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2009

Plus, if this were a normal business call I'd have expected the "what is this in relation to?" question to have been answered truthfully if quickly and not something out of left field like "car wash".

...maybe it was in relation to a car wash?

I don't understand your suspicion in this case. What could a scam company do with a first name and a cell phone number, that they couldn't do before calling you and alerting you to the potential scam?
posted by muddgirl at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2009

could be they were trying to scam (or in the process of scamming) someone else with your name, and they searched for and found the wrong guy.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2009

It could be. Late last year I started getting calls on my cell from "telemarketing" companies who 1, knew my cell phone number (which I never give out, nor use on any applications or anything else), 2, first AND last name and 3 knew the last four digits of my debit card number. They all were either from "magazine subscription" companies, a vacation that I had won (hmm yea) and other strange scammy things. I just ignored the calls.

A month later after coming home to a house full of strange items I had never ordered my bank called about suspicious activity on my checking account. Someone had stolen my debit card number and went on a shopping spree, strangely sending most of the things to my own house in my own name. The calls on my cell increased dramatically after that point.

Not to be alarmist, but that was my experience after getting my first few strange calls on my cell phone.
posted by wiretap at 2:06 PM on September 3, 2009

A cattery rang me up once, asked for me by my first name, then told me that chaos is here. After a few minutes confusion it turned out that Chaos was a cat ready to be picked up, the cattery had a client called Shelley, and they'd accidentally dialed the wrong number and got me. It happens. And my first name is much less common than yours.

Also telemarketers call and ask for me by name all the time, it's obviously on a list somewhere (this happened before I was in the phone book). They're often taken aback if I don't follow their pre-throughout script and end up gabbling.

So you either got a really incompetant telemarketer (which is most likely) or the person on the other end made a genuine mistake, was flustered and didn't handle it too well.
posted by shelleycat at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

(I should mention, it wasn't my cattery, they just misdialled)
posted by shelleycat at 2:20 PM on September 3, 2009

Your information is not as safe as you think.

I've gotten calls from telemarketers who knew my cell number, plus my full name. I've gotten calls from scammers who knew what bank I used, what credit card companies I used - one even had my mother's maiden name. They were all lying to get my account numbers, pin, or to sign me up for some "great deal" I didn't want to miss out on.

Huge amounts of personal data is bought and sold between companies. "We won't share your information with anyone!" is usually followed by an asterisk with half a page of small type you never see.

Don't get too paranoid though. Never give ANY info to anyone who calls you. If there's a problem, call them back from the number on your statement/card/whatever and request their department. Join the Do Not Call list. Watch your credit reports closely. Get a free one at Annual Credit Report. I like to get one at the beginning of the year from, say, Experian, then in four months get one from TransUnion, then the last one in another 4-5 months. It gives you a better picture of your credit over time, instead of getting all 3 at once and being in the dark for the rest of the year.

If you're really worried, set up a fraud block on your social. You'll have to call in for any new accounts you want opened, like a loan or credit card, but anyone trying to open a line in your name will be blocked.
posted by caveat at 2:55 PM on September 3, 2009

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.
posted by procrastination at 2:58 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

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