Other than change my number, what can I do??
September 1, 2011 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything I can do or need to be concerned about regarding strange calls and texts I've been receiving?

Over a month ago I started getting calls and texts from numbers I don't recognize. Some left messages but were in a language I don't speak. Almost all mention "facebook". I google translated one of the texts I got this morning:

hello bb k you I'm a guy on facebook you want to know I'm located between x and y towns I got what you want, baby if interested. Call or text me ha ha

So, I think my number was put on facebook in some skeevy way. The texts generally seem like responses to something (they think) I just said. BTW, the towns mentioned in the above text are right where I live. I googled my cell number/spelled out variations of my cell number to see if I could confirm that it's being falsely associated with (?) a prostitute or someone seeking drugs, but I wasn't able to find anything via search. I'm not even on facebook, if that matters. I disabled my account over a year ago (I didn't like their current privacy policies!). But I never associated my cell phone number with that account, anyway. Nor have I ever tweeted or posted my cell phone number on the internet.

My questions are: Is there any possibility that facebook will assist me with this? I know getting in contact with fb is practically impossible. The thing is, I don't even know what's going on, but it's beginning to really creep me out. Is there anything I can do besides changing my phone number (the calls are coming from multiple numbers, "private" and sometimes the texts originate from numbers that are less than ten digits, like "xxx-xxx-xx"). Also, could this (?) wind up being associated with me online? I'm imagining whatever lovely message is attached to my phone number out there/on fb and wondering if my real name is being used, too). And, if someone has done this to me purposefully (though I can't imagine who would do this or why) do I have any legal recourse?

I realize crank calls are not a big deal. But, it's not stopping of it's own accord even though I've ignored every call. On top of it, I'm looking for work right now and my parents are elderly, I can't simply turn off my phone right now like I might have in the past. The not knowing *why* my number is out there--or in what context, is starting to freak me out. Any insight or advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
My guess is the guy misdialed and got your number by accident. I would write something back like "You have the wrong number and I am a man."
posted by Ashley801 at 10:04 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

What is infinitely more likely is that someone put your number on their facebook as a deliberate wrong number.
posted by Sphinx at 10:04 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

What kind of phone do you have? If you have an Android or iPhone, there are a number of apps that will allow you to block idiots like this, or block private numbers. That way you won't have to change your number.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:10 PM on September 1, 2011

Is this a newer phone number for you? Because this sort of thing happens to me every time I switch carriers. My standard response is: "This phone number has been reassigned. The person you are looking for is no longer at this number." Generally takes care of it. Points if you can put it in the language of the original message.
posted by Ys at 10:21 PM on September 1, 2011

Also: If you really think the number's posted out there somewhere, you might try googling it. If that doesn't come up with anything, it might be worth asking "where did you get this number?" in your brushoffs. Maybe someone will tell you.
posted by Ys at 10:25 PM on September 1, 2011

Years ago, I adopted the simple strategy of never answering, worrying or caring about any unsolicited phone call that I receive. Basically, if I don't know number, I don't care.

In doing so, it actually made me much less anxious about missing calls. So much so, that my pavolvian salivate-at-the-ringing bell response is non existent today. It makes life a bit more bearable in the telephone category. When I am with people and my phone rings (which I don't even bother to look at), I get all sorts of strange looks and comments about letting it go to the machine. It is amazing how programmed we are at the ringing bell.

As far as your work and family situation goes, the ball is in your court on this one to make it work better. Take the time to program every single number that you know into your phone, even if they are just possible work contact numbers that you just acquired. That way, at least you will get an identifier on your phone screen when they call. You will be able to pick up on a good percentage of valid calls that way.

As an extension to the above, you can also start assigning every unsolicited caller an ID. That way, you know that you have gotten the call before and dismissed it. When I get a recurring unwanted call, I give it the name "Blah XX" (with XX being a sequential number). Now , when I see that ID come up, it makes it that much easier to ignore. I probably have around 100 of these blah numbers in my phone.

I always say, "The cell phone is for my convenience, the answering machine is for yours". Pushing 10 or so buttons on a keypad does not automatically make you beholden to a person for their intent or needs. Sure, it would be nice to always be available for every valid phone call, from every valid caller all the time, but in this world of instant phone gratification, that really is not feasible.

Good luck and don't stress out about it. You can always type the 10 or so buttons back and get everything taken care of.
posted by lampshade at 10:30 PM on September 1, 2011 [16 favorites]

I had an experience somewhat like this. Strange men were calling and texting me all the time. All of them wanted the sexytimes by phone, and all of them were convinced that I had texted them first. I hadn't, and I never tracked the source for sure (though a couple of the callers' numbers did turn up in seemingly innocent Craigslist ads) and simply decided that my number was being spoofed. I had to change my number in the end, but it was so worth the trouble. It's easy to say "Just don't answer it!" but you still get that awful feeling of "Oh god. Which creep is it now? What do they want? Who do they think I am? What if this never stops??" Since changing the number, I haven't gotten a single call like this, and it's been nice.

If you're unwilling to change your number, try a call-blocking app. If you use an Android phone, there's one called Android Firewall that has all kinds of cool settings, including the ability automatically hang up on a number that's not in your contacts.
posted by katillathehun at 11:12 PM on September 1, 2011

If you are looking for work and gave out your number on resumes and applications as well as in a networking way, then I think you have to suck it up an answer the calls that appear to be coming from a valid caller ID. You can assign a ringtone to your parents so you know if there is an issue with them.

If you get a google voice number, start putting that on your resume and for work contacts. Then in a few weeks or a month you can change your cell number without worrying that you are missing a potential job related call.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:41 AM on September 2, 2011

1. Send a message back in a broken version of their language. No parle francais, for example. Just enough that they know what you mean and it's obvious that you don't actually speak it.

2. Get a Google voice number and put that on your resume. Forward all calls to your cell.

3. Assign special ringtones to Mom, Dad, and other people you definitely want to talk to. Only take calls with that ringtone, OR who call via your Google voice number.

4. Wean your family and friends off your "real" number and make them call your GV number. This unfortunately takes the most time.

5. Change your "real" number.

I wouldn't be worried about the Internet stuff; if you can't find your own name and phone number through Googling, how is anyone else going to?
posted by desjardins at 6:35 AM on September 2, 2011

Don't reply to these messages. They are probably just text spam. They want you to text them back, because when you do so, the text will cost you many many dollars. And possibly get you signed up for a subscription service which will attach a $9.99 fee to your cell phone bill every month in perpetuity.

Contact your cell phone provider. Most of them have ways to stop this happening.
posted by ErikaB at 10:25 AM on September 2, 2011

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