Who/what is calling me from these unusual numbers?
March 7, 2014 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I missed a whole bunch of phone calls from some unusual numbers that aren't in the standard North American (XXX) XXX-XXXX format. What could they be?

The phone numbers are in formats like:

+880 11998XXXXX
+1 (1) (998) XXX-XX (last 5 numbers the same as above)
+1 (1) 1998XXXXX (last 5 numbers the same as above)
+64 7 XXX XXXX
(711) XXX-XXX
+7 786 XXXXXX

I'm concerned because the first three came in a span of about 5 minutes, and the last three spread out over the last couple of days. I don't get many calls in general, and certainly not in unusual formats like above.

I'm sure if it was important, the person would have left me a message, so I guess I'm curious more than anything else.
posted by ohmy to Technology (12 answers total)
Whenever I get a phone number that I don't recognize, I Google the number.

99.9% of the time, the hits I get are for sites where people log complaints about telemarketers, so I'd wager that you're getting calls from some telemarketing company that ignores the "Do not Call" list. And I further wager that most of those calls would be recordings from "Heather at Account Services", which is a known and frustrating telemarketer scam.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 AM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

There's been a missed-call scam going around lately. Maybe related?
posted by aka burlap at 6:56 AM on March 7, 2014

Well, if we're to believe the country calling codes, 880 is Bangladesh, 64 is New Zealand, and 7 is a number of countries in the former Soviet Union.

However, you can't trust these to be the numbers from which you were actually called. So I would forget about it unless it keeps occurring.
posted by rocketpup at 7:04 AM on March 7, 2014

Yes, don't call them back.
Yes, Google the phone number.
But really, if any caller isn't courteous enough to leave you a message, you don't want to talk to them anyway.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:10 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is almost definitely one or more of the missed-call scammers.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on March 7, 2014

I forgot to mention in my question that Google turned up nothing. Oh well!
posted by ohmy at 7:23 AM on March 7, 2014

Could be spoofing the numbers, clearly the weird numbering format has piqued your interest. They're hoping you pick up the phone.

Ignore it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:27 AM on March 7, 2014

Nth-ing DON'T call them back. As per the scam that was going around recently there is a chance that simply calling them back could add charges to your phone bill.
posted by davidvanb at 7:47 AM on March 7, 2014

I get similar calls from fake pharmacies trying to sell viagra. Ignore them, don't call back, and if you can, block them or add them to the "reject" list on your phone.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2014

Little-known fact: Caller ID can be hacked to display any number the caller wants to.

If I get a call from a number I don't recognize, I don't answer it. Then, I look up the number on Who Called Us. That website is based on user reports of who these numbers were from, and what their entries are in phone company databases.

But keep in mind, a less-than-honest telemarketer is probably going to spoof their Caller ID.
posted by tckma at 10:21 AM on March 7, 2014

Coming from that many numbers, they're probably spoofed and are just a regular telemarketing scam. Also, if they were real numbers, it is likely someone else would have already reported them so they'd show up on a search. The most popular types of illegal telemarketing right now include credit scams, home security system scams, tech support scams, and things like that. I've also noticed an uptick recently in legitimate businesses hiring illegitimate telemarketers to market home repairs and things like that. (They're easier to report and shut down, though, because they usually tell you who they are.)

Alternately and sometimes in combination, there is another very strange scheme going on where scuzzy telemarketers that have large blocks of numbers contract with a couple of fraudulent 'compliance services' that charge your phone company to deliver Caller ID info, which actually makes the calls themselves profitable regardless of the success of the scam they're running. In those cases, I believe the numbers are usually real but the text is user modifiable, but I'm not sure.

I'm not aware of any actual risk you'd take picking up the phone if they call again. They already know you're a live number, and I don't think there's any way to reverse any charges if you didn't initiate the call. I'd pick up if they called again just to see if I could figure out who they are.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2014

Oh, hi. I just noticed that I misplaced a clause. The compliance services actually own the number blocks they call from, which are 'rented' to the telemarketers.

At least some of your numbers are spoofed or misconfigured, so it doesn't matter in your case, but anyway.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:04 AM on March 7, 2014

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