Google PLEASE Lose That Number
April 17, 2020 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Someone else seems to be trying to sign up for something with Google, and mistyping their number as mine. A lot. Is there a way to track them down?

I was issued a phone at my job a month ago, and from the very beginning I've been getting unsolicited texts with "Messenger Verification Codes" from Google. Clearly someone has been trying to sign up for something, and accidentally giving them my own number. I thought it was some kind of hack at first, and ignored it but alerted the IT team; they said to text "Stop" to the text instead, and that it may just be an accidental thing. Fair enough.

But I'm still getting these texts at a rate of about once every other day or so. Someone seems to be repeatedly trying to sign up for something, but repeatedly getting the number wrong and mis-typing their own number as mine. Is there a way to track down the person who's doing this, perhaps, and write them directly to tell them to cut it out? Or is that even a good idea?

posted by EmpressCallipygos to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they're trying to steal your identity, contacting them gives them more information to help them do that. So maybe not. If, however, you're getting VMs from traceable places like doctor's offices, then maybe let that office know.

I got my current cell number in 2009, and the last time the previous owner's medical office tried to contact them was 2017. Once a day isn't terrible. If it doesn't tail off in a couple of months and you have legit, traceable groups (ie, not any automated service) trying to use it, then maybe do something. Number churn happens.
posted by scruss at 6:42 AM on April 17, 2020

If it's a hacking attempt, not accidental, texting "STOP" might be helping them by verifying that yours is a live number. But the repetition makes it appear to be accidental. I would get your IT team to work on it some more, up to and including just giving you a new number.
posted by beagle at 6:44 AM on April 17, 2020

I do not think they are mistyping your number, but rather they had your number before you at some point and never changed their profile or account settings in Google (if they are Google authentication codes). If they are persistent, eventually someone will help them with their problem of not getting verification codes and have them check their information including phone number. If they are not so clueless, they will pick it up.

I would ask IT if they owned the number before they gave it to you or if they got it fresh from the carrier. If they owned it previously and reassigned it to you from another employee, I would have them contact the previous user to clarify.

I would ignore them for about another few weeks and then ask IT for a different number.
posted by AugustWest at 7:21 AM on April 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yep, it sounds like they have two-factor authentication turned on and haven't updated their phone number so it pops up when they try to log in somewhere. They probably send it first to the default number and then realize they're not receiving it, so re-send their code to somewhere else or something.

You're lucky that's all it is - I got a work cell phone a year ago and the previous number's owner has been terrible about updating his contacts with his new number. The worst was recently when his children's teachers started reaching out to me about school closings and distance learning, and I had to call them back and explain that the emergency contact info they had for this guy was no longer correct.
posted by beandip at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2020

Response by poster: Oh, the two-factor authentication defaulting to this is something I hadn't considered, and that makes a lot of sense.

I'll give it another couple weeks to see if it lets up any and then speak to the IT team. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on April 17, 2020

Response by poster: PS with a new development - I just got a text this morning with nothing but a screenshot of a Facebook post - that Facebook post, fortunately, was just an announcement of a particular priest being appointed as bishop of a nearby church. I just texted back that I think they had the wrong number; but I'm thinking this adds to the likelihood that the person who used to have my number has just been lax at updating everyone with their new number, as opposed to being anything nefarious.

If this keeps up I'll call the person who sent me the bishop announcement and ask "who were you TRYING to reach?" and maybe ask them to speak to their friend about updating their phone numbers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Confirming a month later - the Google Messenger Verification Codes seem to have stopped. Also, last night I had a few missed calls from the same number, tried calling and got a dude who said he was looking for "Imelda" and apologized when I said this wasn't her number any more. But this all seems to prove that what we had was "imelda" getting a new number and then forgetting to update the two-factor authentication for a while. But all is well. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2020

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