Seriously Wrong Number.
February 20, 2012 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Got a call from someone who said he got my number from someone else I don't remember meeting. Should I pursue more info or let it drop?

I got a weird phone call yesterday from someone who knew my first name (I'll call the caller "Norton"), and said he got my number from a friend of his. He mentioned the name of the friend (I'll call the friend "Ralph Kramden"), but I didn't recognize the name. I tried a couple times to get Norton to explain what the call was about, but Norton was one of those rambly talkers who tells you all sorts of extra detail - all I could get out of him was that Ralph taught at a school in my city, that Norton and Ralph were at a party recently, and that Ralph had met some woman named Linda (I don't know if that's relevant, but Norton mentioned it). And apparently, Ralph had told Norton I was "a really nice lady" and that he should call me. When I again said I didn't know Ralph and asked what this was about, Norton apologized and hung up.

I don't think Norton is dangerous (I get the sense he was nervously and awkwardly trying to ask for a date), but what worries me is that Ralph somehow got my phone number and is giving it out to people. I don't think I'm listed now, and even when I was I only used my first initial; Norton knew my name. There IS a slim chance that Ralph is someone I worked with and I've just forgotten the name, but that would have been more likely with my old phone number; not this one.

I was able to get Norton's phone number through *69. I wanted to call Norton to ask for Ralph's number, so I can talk to Ralph and find out who he is and how he got my number (and tell him to stop handing it out!), but a friend pointed out that I only have Norton's say-so that that's how he got my number, so I should let it drop unless Norton calls me again. But the whole thing has me a little uneasy still.

So - should I call Norton and get Ralph's number, so I can call Ralph? Should I wait and see if anyone else gets my number from Ralph, or see if Norton calls again? Or should I let it drop? Or something else?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you try googling "Ralph Kramden" to see if anything comes up that might jog your memory of who this person is?
posted by andoatnp at 11:19 AM on February 20, 2012

I would just drop it and see what happens. Chances are you will never hear from this person again.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:20 AM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's possible it's a lonely person who randomly dials numbers and talks to whoever answers -- or possibly only to women if they answer. I've run into that twice in the past, and the second one did try to pretend to be a friend of a friend.

I wouldn't engage with him.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:22 AM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

It may well have been that Norton misdialed or mistranscribed the number Ralph gave him, in which case the problem is solved. If you get more calls, try to get up with Ralph in order to send him to the moon.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:24 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would say random as well, BUT... OP says that the caller knew her by name. Unless it's like the Pauly Shore "Lisa" theory, where it was coincidence that he came up with the right name, I doubt it.

OP -do you have your phone number as part of your FB info? Someone got my number like that, despite locking it to Friends Only, and weirdness ensued.
posted by kellyblah at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Norton knew the op's first name, though, so it doesn't seem quite so random.
posted by tristeza at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2012

Could it be that the "mutual friend" was someone you barely know who gave out your number thinking you were another person with the same first name?

For a year or two, I kept getting calls from this guy who knew my first name and was really chatty about our mutual friends, plans, etc - I thought I was going CRAZY because I had no clue what he was talking about but he seemed to know my name. It turned out I had sold something to him on craigslist months before and he had programmed my first name into his phone, and occasionally misdialed me instead his good friend with the same name.
posted by beyond_pink at 11:33 AM on February 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

Let it drop this one time but if anything weird like this happens again soon, or if anyone mentions Ralph to you again, I think it would then be time to track Ralph down and talk to him.
posted by soelo at 11:35 AM on February 20, 2012

Do you say your name on your voicemail message? He probably called you, got your voicemail message, hung up, and then called again later, knowing your name already when you answered. Sounds creepy and dangerous.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on February 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I once got a call like this, and it turned out the guy was looking for another woman named Julia entirely. He had gotten my number by some convoluted process of web searching (probably Yahoo! searching in those days) because I and the Julia he was looking for worked in roughly the same field.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on February 20, 2012

Do a google search on Ralph, do a google search on this guys number. Sounds creepy, especially since he knew you by name. I would also put feelers out with your friends to see if they know either of them.
posted by pintapicasso at 11:54 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's not even saying what the call is about, so I'd certainly let it go. If he calls back, just say you're not interested in talking to him and hang up.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2012

Mod note: From the OP:
"Hi - just wanted to clarify that I'm not worried about Norton at all, and I don't think he'll call again. What I AM worried about is Ralph, who supposedly has my number and is giving it out. I did try Googling Ralph's name, but it didn't yield any hits that would explain who Ralph is or how he knows me.

"However, a lot of you have pointed out some other theories for how Norton could have gotten my number instead, so this has been food for thought."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2012

If "Ralph" /= someone you actually know (and that's the impression I'm getting), I'd just drop it, unless you keep getting weird calls.

Just my own anecdote about how weird it can get. I had an old contact in my cell phone (a former student), and I get a call from that number. *another* person I know, with no relation to the former student, had been assigned the phone number. It truly is a small world.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:46 PM on February 20, 2012

I would just let it go.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2012

Not sure if this helps, but a somewhat similar thing once happened to me.

In high school, I got a call from a guy, let's call him Casey, who asked for me by name, then introduced himself to me as a friend of "John." When I asked, "John who?" he said, "No, not John, I said Jen." As a matter of fact, I did have a friend named Jenny. But later on, I figured that this guy was hedging his bets that I would know someone named either John or Jen, as part of a fake explanation.

When I asked him how he knew Jenny, he gave some rambling answer that they were friends, not really answering my question, and just said that she had given him my number because she thought he was a great guy and that we'd get along. I gave a kind of non-committal reply, because I wasn't really sure what to think.

The next day, I asked Jenny if she knew this guy, and she said she didn't know anyone by that name. And I think she was telling the truth, as she wasn't the type to randomly hand out friends' numbers to guys.

He called me again and I just told him I wasn't interested. I never heard from him again. I can only assume that he did get my number from someone who knew me, and perhaps they had just given out my number as a prank. (I was rather unpopular in high school, so it was possible that someone who I'd worked with on a school project or something had my number and gave it out.)
posted by LaurenIpsum at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2012

Nthing that this is probably a mixup.

I guess there's some chance that someone could have been cold reading you for some obscure purpose of social engineering - to get info on Ralph or on someone they think he and/or you also know. I once had someone call me up at work for purposes of industrial espionage, so it's not totally far-fetched. I wouldn't concern myself, though.
posted by tel3path at 1:47 PM on February 20, 2012

Some people really do cold-call for dates. The rambling, evasive talk is a sign of deception. Ralph probably doesn't exist. Norton could be a Facebook hacker or something.
posted by gentian at 4:42 PM on February 20, 2012

I would let it drop, unless it happens again. Teenage boys will sometimes develop crushes on adult ladies and pull crap like that.
posted by myselfasme at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2012

Save the number on your phone as 'sketchy,' and worry only if you hear from this caller or a similar caller.
posted by theora55 at 4:31 PM on February 21, 2012

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