Sudden influx of calls to mobile phone
May 17, 2012 6:44 AM   Subscribe

My mobile phone is suddenly getting lots (more than 30 in the last 18 hours) of phone calls from "unknown" numbers and numbers with strange area codes. No voicemails are left. In many cases, the leading three digits don't appear to be area codes used in North America (examples include 375, 736, and 486), so these could be calls from outside the U.S. and Canda. What's going on? What should I do?

Is this some scam? Can the callers do something to me if I answer the phone? Did my number end up on a list of possible suckers? Do I need to check my credit report? Should I contact my phone carrier?

(I just got another call while I was typing up this question.)
posted by Area Man to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What state do you live in? I've been suddenly plagued with "We value your opinion! Take this political poll!" from random numbers and area codes and Unknowns. I hardly think Massachusetts is a swing state (that's where I live and where my area code indicates I live) but if you're in Ohio, Iowa, etc, I could see that being the reason for 30 calls in the last 18 hours... yeesh.

If that is what it is, I don't really know a way to stop it. Political parties and pollsters are exceptions for the Do Not Call registry.
posted by olinerd at 6:59 AM on May 17, 2012

Google the calling numbers. There may be information out there about them.

You may have to change your number if it gets out of hand.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:00 AM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

The same thing is happening to me, and it started a couple weeks ago. I get several calls a day from an "unknown" number. No voicemail. I'm thinking it might be a political campaign thing. I live in MA.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 7:08 AM on May 17, 2012

Olinerd is probably correct in that they are political. I'm in Massachusetts as well and have received a few. MA isn't a presidential swing state, but we will have a messy Senate race. With the unlimited money flowing around, any location with an undecided race will be inundated.
posted by otters walk among us at 7:11 AM on May 17, 2012

I just answered one of the calls. It was quiet for a bit, then I heard a brief snippet of horrible hold music, and then it hung up on me.

I'm in Minnesota. Our Senate race looks like it won't be that heated, but we do have gay marriage ban amendment to the state constitution on the ballot. Could opponents of gay marriage have me in their autodialers? If so, they are barking up the wrong tree.
posted by Area Man at 7:24 AM on May 17, 2012

I've been getting them too and finally listened to one. It was asking me to do a "political survey" about what's wrong with America, with "the opportunity to receive a free 2-day cruise" at the end.

I've read up on the two-day cruise thing and it's pretty much a scam to get you into a timeshare presentation. Looks like it has nothing to do with the political poll unless they're targeting a certain wealthy red-state demographic with this marketing scheme.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2012

Have you tried googling your ph no. And seeing if it's on some website?
posted by discopolo at 7:34 AM on May 17, 2012

Next time you get one of these calls, do a google search for the number; nine times out of ten all the hits you get will be on a variety of "who's calling me" web sites or "telemarketer complaints" web sites.

There are rather a few telemarketers who are "do not call list" scofflaws; usually they're offering some cheeseball "here's a way to lower your credit card interest rates" or "here's a way to get some cheap drugs ordering online" or something. Usually they call you, and if you pick up, you'll hear a recording that says that "we have important information about [whatever], press '1' to be transferred to an operator." If you press '1' you're connected with a human. If you ask that human to take you off the list, or ask what this is about or basically if you say anything other than "I would like to buy your offer' or some derivation thereof, they hang up on you.

Those kinds of telemarketer calls kind of come in waves; they'll call from one number for a while until the FCC gets a flood of complaints from people that "these folks are ignoring the do-not-call list", the FCC shuts them down, and they just get a new number and try again. We hate them.

The "opinion poll with a 2-day cruise if you answer" kind of thing like JoeZydeco mentions above is related; they're just getting around the do-not-call list because the FCC exempts political calls and surveys from the do-not-call ban.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have an Android phone? I recommend Mr. Number, which blocks calls and tells you if it's spam.
posted by hooray at 7:53 AM on May 17, 2012

I had a rash of bizarro phone calls from the same (unknown to me) number a few weeks ago; they would leave a snippet of a message each time. I ignored all the calls and deleted all the messages. They've since given up. Then again, my cell phone's default position is powered off, so the calls were easy to avoid.

I assume that you can always decline a call on any cell phone when the phone is turned on, since my 8-year-old dumb phone allows me to do it. Just decline any call from any number you don't know and delete any messages. If there is blocking software that you can use as hooray suggested, so much the better.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:11 AM on May 17, 2012

I'm in MA and I've gotten the first 2 telemarketing calls ever on my cell phone in the last 3 days. Both said that if I took a 30 second political survey I would be rewarded with a 2 day cruise. I hung up immediately. It was a robocaller not a person.
posted by Cygnet at 4:25 PM on May 17, 2012

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