local people insisting that I called them
December 21, 2017 9:07 AM   Subscribe

The answer to this is probably obvious, and yet - I don't answer my phone if it is a number I don't know, *except* if it has my area code. Then it could be someone from school, or a doctor's office, or something. This is usually fine, except that occasionally I get someone who insists that they are calling me back. And yet I did not call them. is my number just going through some scammer's spoofed number generator, or are the people calling me part of some scam? It's so odd.
posted by 41swans to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Most of the scam calls I get are from my own area code.
posted by grouse at 9:08 AM on December 21, 2017 [20 favorites]

The vast majority of the scam/spam calls I get lately are spoofing a number with the same area code and exchange as mine. They just pick a random last four digits, or sometimes ones that only differ from my number by one digit. They called someone using your number as their spoofed caller ID.
posted by jkent at 9:16 AM on December 21, 2017 [22 favorites]

"is my number just going through some scammer's spoofed number generator, or are the people calling me part of some scam?"

Yes this is exactly what's happening. I'm using an app called Hiya to block these entirely. There are also other apps. They crowdsource input and flag numbers as spam or scams.

posted by edbles at 9:17 AM on December 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

Listen to this for a good digest of what's going on. There's pretty much nothing you can do other than ignore the calls.
posted by halogen at 9:18 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yep, this was happening enough that my honey put a disclaimer about it on his outgoing VM. Something like "If you think I called you, I probably didn't, my number is being used by scammers." It stopped him getting a bunch of angry VMs.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:24 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, they are spoofing your number to make people more likely to pick up. They'll move on to a different number soon, although it's possible that by that time, your number will be flagged as a scam.

But please do not install Hiya. It is owned by the site whitepages.com, and it mines people's contact lists and publishes information about the people you know to their public-facing site. Truecaller and several other similar apps do the same. Just be wary of anyone who wants access to your contact list. It won't help you with your problem, anyway.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:26 AM on December 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

As others say, likely a result of scam calls. I unintentionally set myself up with a solution to this - my cell is the same number I had 10 years ago when I lived in a different state and different area code. So now, I can screen those same-area-code scam calls and only answer unknown callers if they are from my geographic area and I ignore all unknown numbers that share my phone's area code.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:34 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

They're spoofing your number for other people in your area code to make them more likely to pick up, and the callers are just calling the number back. This totally happens to me and has continued every few months for the past two years and all the return callers have the same area code and firest three digits. I've even gotten calls from myself!

I've just stopped answering unknown calls from my area code + 3 and I block them right after.
posted by mochapickle at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I let most calls go through to Google voice because once a phone number is tagged as a valid number, the spam calls pile up.
posted by theora55 at 12:40 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but ernielundquist's claim about Hiya is completely unsubstantiated as far as I know or have been able to determine. There appears to be zero evidence that it is taking your contacts and publishing them on the web. I do see unsubstantiated FUD that's all rather Chicken Little in tone.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:46 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, I am familiar with the, "I've never heard of this before, so she must be crazy and stupid" argument.

So set aside the fact that a particularly invasive website that mines private information about people, including non-public information such as nicknames, developed an app that requires full access to users' contact lists, because of course a notorious stalker website would never have a hand in anything so invasive and creepy.

But you'll also need to ignore the unsubstantiated Chicken Little FUD directly from their own privacy policy.

What We Do With Your Contacts

After we access your Contacts, we store them securely in an encrypted format so that we can match the information with numbers from the incoming calls on your phone. We also match your Contacts to information already in our database so that we can provide the most accurate caller ID service to all of our users.

What We Don't Do With Your Contacts

At Hiya, we don’t rely on only your Contacts to derive name information for our caller ID services. Instead, we match your information with all of our data sources, only making it available to users if we are able to validate it against multiple sources, thereby protecting the identity of your contribution to our service.

Thereby protecting the identity of your contribution to our service. This means they don't publish information they've only received from you unless it's been corroborated. This is to prevent people's contact information showing up as something like Mom of Fuckstick or some other one-off name.

To protect your identity, so your friends won't know it's you who gave up theirs.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:52 PM on December 21, 2017 [5 favorites]

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