"Is this your homework, Larry?"
May 14, 2012 3:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting phone calls and late night texts (and sexts) for an Edith. Edith appears to be a local teenager. How to deal?

This has been going on for months. It started with texts, and then ballooned into phone calls from guys, old ladies, herbalists, you name it. At one point I got a text that included Edith's full name, so I tracked her down on Facebook. Turns out there's a likelihood she's a high school student, which makes my tracking her down seem really bizarre and creepy. I sent her a polite message explaining the situation and asking if she would update her contacts. No reply from Edith. She did not update her contacts.

I'm guessing that either: a) she had this cell phone number before me, b) she's mistakenly giving out the wrong phone number or c) she gives this number to people she doesn't want to hear from. Any way you slice it, this is supremely annoying. I don't want to have to get a new number and update all MY contacts, especially since this is the number I'm giving potential employers. Also, I don't want to send Edith a message with my full phone number in it because -- frankly -- who the heck is this person? What if it's not even the right Edith?

How to deal? These phone calls and texts only seem to be increasing in frequency.
posted by Miss T.Horn to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know this may sound incredibly obvious, but have you told these people that you don't know who Edith is and that they've reached the wrong number?
posted by livinglearning at 3:48 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know you don't want to do it, but getting a new number is likely to be the most hassle-free way of dealing with this.
posted by smoke at 3:50 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can you ask your cell phone carrier for another number?
posted by bswinburn at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2012

About a year ago, I inexplicably received a cluster of texts from people I didn't know. The only explanation was that someone had posted MY number in a "Lost my phone; text your name to [number] so I can restore my contacts" Facebook post or whatever. What I did at the time was text every person back, telling them it was the wrong number. It was kind of a pain, but I haven't had any contact subsequently, so I think it worked out.
posted by delight at 3:52 PM on May 14, 2012

Did you search Edith+# on the net? Any chance there are people who want to harm Edith and posted (or still do) her (old) info somewhere? It would be understandable that she then a) changed her number and b) does not respond to anyone regarding her contact info.

In this case it seems like changing numbers is the only help for you. You could note down every single number and have them blocked, but if the info is somewhere out there, that won't help. You can block calls for the night or make them ring silently or turn your phone off completely.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:53 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine had the same phone number all through college, and then she moved overseas for a while and cancelled her cell phone plan. Her number was eventually assigned to someone else.

Fast forward a few years later, when Friend moves back to the states. Everyone is so excited to catch up! Not knowing that she cancelled her old plan and started fresh upon her return, we all started calling her old number. And got Random Dude whose number it has been for years by now.

His approach?

"WHO THE FUCK IS [name redacted]??????"

We made sure to get her new number in our phones, stat.
posted by Sara C. at 4:07 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Note that when you send a FB message to someone you're not friends with, it goes to a weird, obscure part of their inbox and they often don't even notice it. Is there an email or any other way you can contact her?
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:11 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

You could email/contact customer service at Facebook and tell them someone has posted your number in their account. Push the privacy angle, how you're getting all kinds of calls and texts, ranging from polite to lewd, and that you've already attempted contacting them, to no avail, etc.

Is this number entered into your own Facebook and verified through their process? That would help your case, being able to prove it's your number.

Good Luck : )
posted by MansRiot at 4:16 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

A similar thing happened to me recently when I got a new cell number that had apparently belonged to a guy named Anthony. Anthony apparently owed a LOT of people money, was in trouble with his pastor for something, and belonged to a Friday Phat Ass text group wherein I would get about 20 pictures of naked butts texted to me in rapid order on Friday afternoons. In every instance where I texted the caller/texter back and let them know it was no longer Anthony's number, they were quite apologetic (especially the naked butt folks). It's a bit of a pain, but it got to be funny after a while, and it really didn't take that long to deal with the bulk of it, although I will still rarely get a call for Anthony (but no more naked butts).
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:50 PM on May 14, 2012 [12 favorites]

A while back, a certain Dustin gave out my cell number as his and a few of his friends would text me late at night, some with pictures of the awesome herb they were smoking (there seems to be a theme to these wrong number folks...). I responded to each one with, "This isn't Dustin, you've got the wrong number." A few thought I was Dustin joking around, so I'd follow up with, "Seriously. You've got the wrong number. Stop calling me." That seemed to work. The number had been mine for a long time, though, and I was committed to keeping it. You could save some kind of script and send it out every time you get a wrong number. Maybe tack something onto the end like, "Please tell Edith she's giving out the wrong number."
posted by jabes at 4:53 PM on May 14, 2012

I had something similar happen last year when I got a new number while visiting the States for a few months. All kinds of calls and texts from sleazy guys looking for someone named Olivia, who seemed to be a bit of a party girl.

A lot of my female friends said "oh, you're her off-by-one number that she gives out at clubs to guys who hound her for her phone number". I have no idea if that is actually the case, but it's an interesting theory.

No amount of "this isn't Olivia's number, please stop contacting me" helped. What DID help was texting every guy back saying "i'm pregnant :(". The calls and texts stopped pretty quickly... except for one guy who texted right back something along the lines of "I prefer pregnant chix!".
posted by adamk at 8:27 PM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

google your phone number, or search it on Craigslist. See if it got posted somewhere with what we used to call a 'salacious ad'.

If it was, contact them to have it removed. It may show up again; follow up.
posted by mephron at 1:02 AM on May 15, 2012

Text back (in broken English) that you don't speak English. Include a phrase in some language they'd be unlikely to know, like Latvian or Klingon, or just make shit up. Keep the text in your notes so you can copy & paste every time.
posted by desjardins at 10:53 AM on May 15, 2012

Nthing the "You have the wrong number; please tell Edith she's giving out the wrong number." And/or just contacting Edith if you can - teenager or no.

Now, I just want to tell a little story about a wrong number.

For about span of 5 years I would get calls from a very old (and mostly senile) woman who would say in a soft, gravely voice, "Is Father Daniel there?" I would politely explain that she had the wrong number. She'd hang up and...call me right back. Over and over and over. I learned to just shut off my ringer when I got one of her calls.

Through talking to her, asking her what number she was trying to dial, I was finally able to discern that the first 3 numbers of my cell phone is also an area code. She was forgetting to dial the 1 first in order to make it a long distance call.

This was the routine for a long time: She would call me, I would politely explain she forgot to dial the 1 first. She seemed lonely so I often had a few minutes conversation with her wherein I learned she had 6 children and 18 grandchildren and some odd number of great grandchildren. She'd been married to same man for 50 years until he passed away. She was a Harvey's Girl in the 1920's and had met her husband-to-be that way. He was a train engineer.

This went on once or twice a month for about 5 years until one day, miraculously, I heard people talking in the background - I'd never heard people there before. I asked to speak to her friend.

It turns out it was her daughter and when I explained the situation and how long it'd been going on and could she program a speed dial for her mother? The woman was apologetic. It turns out her priest, Father Daniel, had passed away years ago., She also told me I would be receiving no more calls as they were moving her mother into an assisted living facility.

It was a lovely connection. Yes, she woke me up at 3AM on more than one occasion, but how else would I have learned about what it was like to be Harvey's Girl?
posted by trixare4kids at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

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