I've never met you, this is crazy. What's your number? Don't call me, maybe?
June 7, 2012 9:05 AM   Subscribe

What's up with 774-8283? This appears to be a spoofed phone number calling to harass people at random. How are they doing this, and what can be done about it? Question about American phone calls, probably won't apply internationally.

I just got a call from 774-8283. No area code was displayed, which is unusual. I never answer calls from numbers I don't recognize, but I usually Google the number to see if I'm missing anything important. No voicemail was left.

I found a lot of people online reporting calls from this number (also without area codes displaying). These reports come from all over the country so it doesn't appear to be local to me. Somebody observed that the number 774-8283 maps to the word "PRIVATE" so this would seem to be spoofed somehow. I've seen calls show up as "blocked," "unknown," or "private" on my iPhone but this method of masking call origin is new to me. How are they doing this?

The disturbing thing about these calls, for which I'm relieved I didn't answer but also disappointed I didn't hear it for myself, is that they are consistently creepy and/or threatening. Other people online have described the caller...

...breathing heavily into the phone before hanging up.
...claiming to know them and their friends by name.
...detailing obscene (apparently sexual) acts he would like to do to them.
...making expletive-laden threats of harm or murder.
...calling in the middle of the night.
...abusively calling over and over again for days.

I have no idea if this activity is all coming from a single individual or if a number of people are using the same method to "prank" unsuspecting people. Considering that there are hundreds of reports online, made over several years, I assume it's more widespread than a single bored misanthrope. Can we do anything to root out what's going on and put a stop to it?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Caller IDs are pretty easily spoofed. Especially in this age of VOIP. You can put practically anything you want in the ANI (the field usually use for caller ID) if your device supports changing it. At my old company our overseas NOC usually used a fake North Dakota number as an ANI to do test calls with.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there's anything you can do yourself to find the origins of these calls. If you can get law enforcement involved, they can try to trace the call up along the chain of telecom companies that handled the call(s), starting with your phone company and working backwards.
posted by kmz at 9:33 AM on June 7, 2012

This is not spooofing.
774-8283 is the numerical version of PRIVATE. (P=7, R=7, I=4 etc.)
So the phone systems somewhere along the way are translating the transmitted word "Private" into digits. The call could be coming from any phone set to dial without transmitting the calling number.
You may have one person hassling you, or several, and they'll all show up as that number. You can probably set your phone not to accept calls from numbers designated as private, but then friends who use that setting would not be able to call you either.
posted by beagle at 9:34 AM on June 7, 2012 [21 favorites]

Not only can Caller IDs be easily spoofed but you can also make millions of phone calls for almost nothing. I'm not sure about the motives behind these calls, but I suspect the real reason behind a lot of robo calls is to find phone numbers that are answered by a person. That information can then be sold or the owners called for sales or political reasons.
posted by 14580 at 9:39 AM on June 7, 2012

Do you have a Blackberry? The internet seems to think this is something Blackberries do with Private numbers
posted by brainmouse at 11:29 AM on June 7, 2012

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