A small phone mystery
April 19, 2017 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I just got a call from someone who claimed to have just received a missed call from my phone. I did not call the number, there is no record of my phone having dialed the number, and no one has access to my phone (it's passcode protected; I'm at work and no one knows my passcode). What is this?!

The woman on the other end of the line sounded genuinely confused, and I was confused as well. She called and said "Hello... I just got a missed call from this number?" and I explained that I hadn't called, and this was confusing. We mulled it over for a bit. We hung up, and I checked my outgoing calls to make 100% sure I hadn't called, and I hadn't.

Could it be some weird scam? She really did sound like a normal, confused person with no angle.

I'm looking for a reasonable explanation as to how could this happen, because now it's a weird mystery and I want to solve it. Could someone else have a phone with my number somehow? Could someone have spoofed my number just to call a stranger and be confusing? Anyone who knows a lot about phones, help?

Phone in question is an iPhone 6. I don't know what kind of phone the other woman had.
posted by millipede to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Someone spoofed your number -- that is, they convinced Caller ID that they were calling from your number, so that's what showed up on her screen. It's no big deal. They don't have access to your phone or account or identity.
posted by Etrigan at 1:13 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]

Scammers spoof phone numbers just so that their phone number isn't used all the time. The most likely scenario is that your number was picked at random as the spoofed number, and maybe the call dropped or something because whatever cheapo service they're using to make phone calls isn't very good, so the end result is this person got a missed call from you.

That said, though, what is with people calling back unknown numbers just because they missed a call? I know that's a thing but it's a really weird thing to do.
posted by brainmouse at 1:14 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]

I have been that lady! You got your number spoofed. Someone was using your phone number temporarily to try and phish that poor lady.

No clue how it's actually done, but it's fairly common. I've stopped calling back unknown numbers for the very reason I've grown tired of having that exact same confused conversation with folks.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:14 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

Yeah its pretty easy these days to spoof a number. A co-worker had to get her number changed because one of those "auto warranty" telemarketing scam companies called some ridiculous number of people with her number being the one that showed up on the caller ID.
posted by Captain_Science at 1:15 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Yep, spoofing for sure. If it keeps happening, then you should be concerned and maybe talk to your phone company, but this one time it is nothing to worry about.
posted by soelo at 1:35 PM on April 19

I had this happen to me a few months ago. The guy insisted that I had called him and so, rather than keep arguing, I hung up on him. He then sent me a text message that said "piss off". Nice.

I agree that calling back the number of every missed call you get is a little weird. This guy confirmed that for me.
posted by misseva at 1:36 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Yes I've had this happen where they use my own phone number to call me. It's just spoofing.
posted by tilde at 2:53 PM on April 19

A random spoofer even managed to pick my mother's number last year.
posted by thecaddy at 3:01 PM on April 19

This just happened to me, and I had so many people calling back that I turned my ringer off for three weeks. I even got called from my own number!

Was it a local number? Spoofers from out of the area will often spoof a local number because they know people are more likely to pick up if the call is from their own area code.
posted by mochapickle at 3:29 PM on April 19

Nthing the spoofed number. Boyfriend got a call on his personal cell phone one day FROM HIS PERSONAL CELL NUMBER. Turns out a robocaller had spoofed his number to call people and then called him. We could have had a lot more fun with that had an actual live person been on the line.
posted by MultiFaceted at 5:13 AM on April 20

Thanks! One add-on question: is there anything I did to make my number especially spoofable? Is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening more?
posted by millipede at 7:05 AM on April 20

Nah. They're pretty much just rolling dice.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on April 20

I feel like this is happening a lot more lately. I've been getting multiple calls a day like this and so has the beau. He changed his voicemail message to explain the situation and has so far headed off the angry calls with that.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:44 AM on April 20

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