phishing home security system emergency contacts
November 28, 2010 12:47 AM   Subscribe

My parents just got a weird call about 30 mins ago (11:50pm). They were getting ready for bed, so my sister picked up.

The person on the other line identified herself as "Robin" from ADT. She wanted to speak to my parents (naming them by name), saying that they're emergency contacts for one of their customers. My sister was confused because she didn't know what ADT is. My sister asked, what is ADT? Robin responded that they're a security system. My sister then asked who the customer was. Robin replied by asking whether my sister was my mom (naming my mom's name). My sister said no, this is their daughter. At this point, my sister asked Robin to repeat her request again, and handed the phone to me, but when I said "Hello?" Robin had already hung up.

*69 didn't work. I called ADT and explained what had just happened. They said my parents' number isn't listed anywhere in their system as anyone's emergency contact. They also don't call to verify emergency contact info. They suggested that perhaps the caller was trying to phish for information.

But now we're wondering, what kind of phishing scheme is this? I was thinking that maybe they saw a house on our street with an ADT system, and were calling OTHER houses to try to find an emergency contact in the hopes of obtaining the security system code. Or were they actually trying to get something more from my parents?

Secondly, did Robin get any useful information from the fact that my sister confirmed that my parents are associated with the number they dialed, and that they have a daughter?

How on earth did they get my parents' number anyhow? They pay money to their phone company to NOT be listed, and are generally diligent about not associating their names with their phone number, unless absolutely necessary.

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by wuMeFi to Technology (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Neighbors, friends and relatives can list anyone they want as an emergency contact for ADT and other alarm systems. See article on American Medical Alarms.

I was contacted once because my uncles; alarm went off early in the morning. I didn't know he even used my number. So, was "Robin" verifying contact information, or contacting you due to an alarm going off?

I didn't know they could search their databases for contact phone numbers, but if that's the case - and the number wasnt listed with any of their customers, then I'm not exactly sure why anyone would be pranking/phishing you. And how they would know your Mom's name.

How old is your sister? Is she young where there might be kids her age pranking the house?

I would call back ADT and ask to speak with a supervisor and confirm that they are able to search all customers contact information and make sure again that your mom's phone number is not listed.

I doubt the information given to them resulted in any useful information since they seemed to hang up/
posted by KogeLiz at 1:42 AM on November 28, 2010

Best answer: You should call ADT and ask them to verify their phone logs show *no* outgoing call to your parents' phone number last night. It may take some effort for them to search their recorded lines for that number, but it might get you some answers.

I've worked for a similar company, and...well, here's what COULD be happening:

Your parents are John and Jane wuMeFi and they're actually on the notification list for James wuMeFi, your father's brother. They have two cell phones and a home phone number listed to be called in the event that ADT sends the police to James' house. James' alarm goes off, the police are sent out, and ADT calls the first cell phone listed for your parents, only to have some stranger answer and tell them they've got the wrong number. They then call the second cell phone and find it's also a wrong number.

As a last attempt, they call the home number and reach your sister, and a misunderstanding results: ADT thinks your sister is saying the number they've called belongs to her instead of your parents. ADT then deletes the phone number from the record belonging to your parents and uncle, so that when you call back to have them see if that number is associated with any of their's not. Not anymore.

But the fact that they *called* the number means it should be saved in their phone logs from last night, so ask them about that - particularly if they do have an associate named Robin who was working at that time. They may also be able to tell you what number comes up on the caller ID when they call someone, and whether or not *69 would work on this number.

(I'll admit my hypothesis is assuming a lot, but...hey, it could happen.)
posted by lizzicide at 3:16 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Assuming the worst and that it's a phishing scheme, I wouldn't worry. It doesn't sound like Robin learned anything new. Most telemarketers/phishers really aren't that subtle - running this scheme just to confirm someone's name is really not likely.

I've been called by a security company unexpectedly too. In my case, it was a "wrong number" in the sense that they called my cell # due to my number previously being issued to a security company customer.

Robin's behavior in hanging up sounds rude, but is explainable in that once she figured out she had a wrong number, the most efficient thing to do was hang up and move on to the next number.

I wouldn't pursue it any further.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:24 AM on November 28, 2010

I have no idea why, and I would not worry too much about it, but it seems to me they hung up when they got the information for which they were looking. That is, they confirmed that your parent's number, the number they dialed, indeed does belong to your parents.
posted by AugustWest at 7:30 AM on November 28, 2010

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