Scammy call or wife with gall?
May 17, 2011 6:10 PM   Subscribe

A man might be cheating on his wife, but it definitely isn't with me. His wife says my number is on his phone records as having incoming and outgoing calls with his phone. Is it possible for my phone number to show up on phone records for a phone I've never called? Also, is it possible this is somehow connected with the fact that my debit card has been compromised?

Over the course of a week or so, I received several calls from an unknown number. Because it wasn't a number I knew, I didn't answer and just hoped they would leave a message, but they never did. Well, they sort of did. They would apparently listen to my message and then after the beep they would just hang up.

After getting tired of wasting cell phone minutes checking voice mail messages that provided no incite, I finally picked up when I saw the number calling again. The woman calling asked if I knew a certain person (she said his name) and I said I was sorry but I didn't and I asked what the call was in reference to. She asked if I had bought a car from the fellow and I said no. She asked me again if I knew him and I said no again. The call ended when I said I was sorry I couldn't help and she said "Ok, thank you." I hung up.

So then that night I got another call from the number. I answered and the same person asked if I knew that same fellow. Again I answered that I didn't know him. She told me she thought I was lying and that I did know him. She said he was her husband and she had his phone records and my phone number was all over them during February and March. Back and forth. I told her I was completely confused how my number got on his call records but I assured her it wasn't me who was calling her husband. She said he was a used car salesman and asked if I had bought a car from him, to which I replied that I hadn't but I was shopping for a car last year. She told me the calls were more recent than that.

Eventually she told me she believed that I hadn't been calling her husband but went on to tell me that this man had a history of cheating and verbal abuse. She said they have a one year old child and her father died a few months back. I felt so bad for her that I really just listened to her talk for a while, asked her to try to get help from a local agency if she felt unsafe and encouraged her to be strong. She was crying and seemed very emotional. The call ended with my wishing her luck and her thanking me for listening.

But then today I got an alert from my bank saying that my debit card has been compromised. When I called the bank, they said someone had my card information but hadn't used it yet, though they aren't sure how it was obtained.

So, #1) Is it possible that my phone number showed up on this husband's phone records even though I hadn't been calling him and he hadn't been calling me? and #2) Is there a chance that this is a scam for my debit card information?

I have no idea how they could be connected but I thought I'd ask. I appreciate your help!
posted by smirkyfodder to Human Relations (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible that my phone number showed up on this husband's phone records even though I hadn't been calling him and he hadn't been calling me?

It's incredibly easy to fake caller id, so yes.

Is there a chance that this is a scam for my debit card information?

I kind of doubt it, but anything is possible. Did you give her a bunch of personal information?
posted by empath at 6:19 PM on May 17, 2011

Could it be possible that there's an area code issue going on (and the debit card is just a red herring)? Your profile says you're in Philadelphia, which probably has more than one local area code. Here in Chicago, I could easily see how someone, in a stressed out state, could read a number coming from 773-555-5555 and have their brain auto-fill with the more common 312-555-5555. Even more possibilities if you guys live in different cities.

I don't know how someone could spoof a phone number, though I assume it can be done. Hopefully someone more tech-savvy can weigh in on that front.
posted by phunniemee at 6:20 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm confused as to how the bank knows your card has been compromised, even though it hasn't been used. Did they explain this to you? Also, did they initiate contact with you in a legitimate way? Make sure this isn't a phishing scam.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:20 PM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

But then today I got an alert from my bank saying that my debit card has been compromised. When I called the bank, they said someone had my card information but hadn't used it yet, though they aren't sure how it was obtained.

Wait, what? How does the bank know that 'someone' has your information if that information hasn't been used and they aren't sure how it was obtained?

Did you check the number to make sure that this was, in fact, your bank's number? Have you visited the bank personally?
posted by misha at 6:21 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: I got an email from my bank but instead of calling the phone number I received in the email, I called the number on the bank's website. So, I'm sure that part is legit. I'm going into the bank tomorrow morning for a replacement debit card as my current one has been canceled.

I definitely didn't give any personal information during the call with the woman and, actually, I didn't provide any passwords or social security numbers when I was on the call with my bank either.
posted by smirkyfodder at 6:23 PM on May 17, 2011

Best answer: Okay, sounds like it is a legit issue with the bank. Are you a Michael's customer and in one of the states where your debit card may have been compromised?
posted by misha at 6:26 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: I've definitely bought stuff from a Michael's before, for sure, but not within the past six months or so. From scanning the article, I couldn't figure out if that mattered but that could certainly be a part of the puzzle.
posted by smirkyfodder at 6:32 PM on May 17, 2011

This isn't entirely on point, but I recently moved and in the move, got a new landline number. I'd had the number for about 3 days and I had never, ever used it, when I got a call from some guy telling me that my number had shown up in his missed calls, so he was calling me back.

I told him I hadn't called him, and he hung up. Then called back five minutes later, telling me my number had just showed up in his missed calls again in the last couple of minutes, and insisting that I had called him.

There is literally no way this could have been a mistake or me forgetting I'd called him -- I'd only had the number for a few days and I had never once used the the phone in my new place to make an outgoing call. Not once. Not to order pizza, not to check if the line worked, nothing.

So it is possible for call display to be wrong. I'm not sure how it works, but I know from experience that it can happen.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:46 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think the bank thing sounds pretty legit, particularly if you called the number on your bank's website. They probably received a list of compromised debit card numbers from some leak, and yours was on the list. They make you change your card even though nobody used it yet - that happened to me as well.

Likely, it's just coincidence that both weird events happened at the same time. For what it's worth, caller ID spoofing is really, really easy. Having your number showing up as the outgoing number on the phone seems like it would be harder, although I'm sure that there are phones that can do in-phone call forwarding. Having a cheating tech-savvy husband spoofing the phone number to his paramour doesn't sound all that far-fetched.
posted by gemmy at 7:47 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

At my old job we would get at least one call a week from some poor older person who was very annoyed that "we called them all the time" and our number was on their caller ID, etc. etc. etc. This was a big university and we couldn't even get our tech guys to stop it. It was extremely frustrating to have to explain this problem to all the people who called us, but we couldn't change our number. You may want to consider requesting a number change, if you get many more calls like this.
posted by wowbobwow at 8:17 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just recently went through a weird phase where I got 6-7 calls from US area codes (I live in Canada) within about 3 days and each person would leave a message claiming I had called them. I don't know how this happens, but I can testify that it does.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:40 PM on May 17, 2011

Rather than the wife physically having the phone records printout with her every time she called your phone, it is more likely that she copied out the number(s) of interest once, and then read it from that piece of paper every time. So one copying error or misreading could have been repeated each time she rang.
posted by lollusc at 8:42 PM on May 17, 2011

This question reminded me of this one. The circumstances were a little different, but it certainly set off the scam detectors for some.
posted by ellenaim at 8:52 PM on May 17, 2011

The United States Secret Service is heading the investigtion. Call the local Field Office and explain that you have a strange debit situation that might be linked to the Michaels case.

Your bank was told that your card may have been compromised by the Secret Service. Likely, they have a list of numbers.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:05 PM on May 17, 2011

I recently called a friend, spoke to him for a while, hung up and then remembered something I needed to tell him and called him back. Spoke briefly, hung up.

A few minutes later I got a call from a number I didn't recognize and a very angry man left a very angry message saying that my number had just called his wife's phone twice during a family event, that there had been other calls from my number, but when they answered the calls no one was ever there. And to stop calling. Damnit.

At first I thought it was a fluke, but then I started remembering my friend raving about Google Voice and how good it was at finding him no matter what number he was at. So, I called him back and told him about the angry man and asked him if it was possible this angry man's wife's number was somehow attached to my friend's Google Voice account. I don't know the details, but yes, my friend had that particular number listed as a possible forwarding number for his own account (maybe it was a typo on my friend's part?).

So, I have no idea if this will apply to your situation or not, but wacky phone things can happen for legitimate, non-scammy reasons, too.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:36 PM on May 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

There are obviously a lot of possibilities here. Another is that someone has cloned your cell phone and is using it to make actual phone calls.

I'm not clear from your question whether this woman just saw your number in her husband's call log as missed calls, or if that number had actually been calling and speaking to her husband. If she was just seeing missed calls, then it could be some kind of mix-up in the cellular network. Frankly, I think those happen a lot more often than most people think.

This woman could also just plain be crazy. There are a lot of sad, desperate people who are trying to cope with severe mental illness. She could be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, or having hallucinations, and somehow latched onto your phone number essentially at random.

Be sure to check your cell phone bill. You should be able to log onto your provider's website and see your current charges. Someone playing hijinks with your cell phone can cost you a lot of money. You know those "text HELP to 111111 to send $10 to Haiti" things? Shady people can also send money to their pals in another country by the same means.
posted by ErikaB at 9:45 PM on May 17, 2011

I also thought of Google Voice. Did the OP confirm the number that the wife saw or just hear that "this number" had called her phone?
posted by megatherium at 3:48 AM on May 18, 2011

"She said he was her husband and she had his phone records and my phone number was all over them during February and March."

Weird. I wonder what kind of records those might be. Billing records don't rely on caller ID.
posted by graftole at 4:35 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

It could just be a coincidence of a wierd phone service snafu and the Michael's credit card hack; however I'm concerned that you're being socially engineered through a combination of phone calls and phishing emails.

I'd advise that you stop talking to the female stranger on the phone and do not reply to any emails or incoming calls purporting to be from your bank. Definitely keep a close and constant eye on your bank statements for the next couple of months.
posted by de void at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2011

My opinion (and that's all it is) is that the two issues are unrelated. If you don't get any strange calls from other people, I wouldn't be concerned. Sounds like you finally got the "wife" settled, hopefully. It could be a mis-read, or if you got the number any time recently at all, you should know the cell phone companies do not let a number "rest" any time at all. I've had my cell # for several years now, so I finally got people "trained," but I had the misfortune of inheriting a cell # from a woman who did field case work (either nursing or social work) - oy.

Banks get notification that cards have been compromised from card processors. A notable case was Heartland, a very large card processor/merchant bank which had security problems. They were obliged to furnish very large lists of cards - just about anyone who COULD have been compromised by the fact that their database got hacked into. So if you did a legit transaction with one of their legit customers, and fell in a pool of transactions that could POSSIBLY have been swiped, your bank got notified, and in most cases the banks proactively re-issued cards as soon as possible.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:04 AM on May 18, 2011

Spoof card: used by lots of stalkers and batterers, as well as pranksters, etc.
posted by anya32 at 9:10 AM on May 18, 2011

Response by poster: Apparently, I'm part of the whole Michael's thing, so that breaks the tie I imagined between these two weird contacts. And I'm not sure how exactly the woman found my number in her husband's call log, but after reading your answers, it sure seems a lot more possible. Anyway, thanks again for your help!
posted by smirkyfodder at 5:31 AM on May 20, 2011

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