Is my daughter's cellphone being hacked?
November 24, 2021 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I need to figure out what’s going on with my daughter's cell phone/cell phone service, and get some advice about what to do next - someone appears to be somehow 'sharing' the number with her, somehow forwarding texts from her old phone to a new one, and even to a new number.

Here’s the order of events:

1) She got a new Verizon phone around March 2020.

2) Around July 2021, random texts she had sent on her OLD phone started showing up in group chats with her friends – chats that had existed all the way back to the old phone.

3) She could not see the new random texts on her new phone – but her friends could. To others, it looked like her old phone was sending texts – but to her, it looked like someone named 'Eric' was – with my daughter’s current phone number (it didn’t change between phones).

4) Verizon gave her a new phone number when we complained – around October.

5) That worked for a couple of weeks, but now texts are showing up in NEW group chats – and now they’re a mix of the old number and the new number. They’re not directly referring to anyone in the group chats – but they seem to be reacting to what’s going on in the chats, so someone is reading them.

Any idea what’s going on? Should we just cut our losses and get a different carrier and a new phone? Get the police involved?
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch to Technology (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What are these "group chats"? WhatsApp, iMessage, and MMS would all have different answers.
posted by sagc at 1:25 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


What happened with her old phone - was it traded in or given away? is it possible that you didn't wipe it completely via factory reset before it went to its next destination?
posted by quince at 1:29 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: What are these "group chats"?
MMS.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 1:34 PM on November 24


Response by poster: What happened with her old phone
Traded in. Verizon says it was erased...to be clear, I did not wipe it first.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 1:35 PM on November 24


Did your daughter ever install (on the old phone, or the new) the Verizon Messages app, or any other app that does backups / synchronization?
posted by meowzilla at 1:56 PM on November 24


Is it possible that one of the friends is sending messages to the old number? Like, is the old number still part of the group chat?
posted by mskyle at 2:51 PM on November 24 [5 favorites]


Can she and all of her friends block the old number?
posted by soelo at 3:23 PM on November 24


Response by poster: ever install (on the old phone, or the new) the Verizon Messages
The phones came with it, but she never used it.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 3:24 PM on November 24


Response by poster: The old number is not part of the chats, and yes, they've blocked the old number.
But keep in mind that the newest texts are coming from the new number.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 3:26 PM on November 24


Start new group texts, stop using the old ones, have everyone block the old number.
posted by Jairus at 7:07 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


Is it an iPhone? It's possible that old phone was STILL tied to your iCloud Apple ID.

You need to log into iCloud and delete the old device from the account.
posted by kschang at 12:08 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Is it an iPhone? It's possible that old phone was STILL tied to your iCloud Apple ID.

This is the key question, and the probable answer, if this is an iPhone.

I would also go into your MyVerizon account and make sure the old phone isn't still listed as one of yours, just to make sure everything has been cleared.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:29 AM on November 25


Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion of blocking and deleting the old threads. She may not have done the latter half.
It's an Android, sorry. But the idea of checking the Verizon account is a good one.
I wonder if some of this is automatic backup anyway, even though she never installed an app for that.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 5:38 AM on November 25


Is it possible that one of the friends is sending messages to the old number? Like, is the old number still part of the group chat?

This is what happened to a friend of mine. Someone in a group chat was using an old thread that still had his old number in it. Then all of us in the chat had to see the repulsive messages from whatever joker had wound up with friend's old number. Try to get all her friends to clear any chat threads with her old number or this will just keep happening.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:30 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


If it's an Android, use MyAccount @ Google to do the same. Go to Security (on the left), and scroll to "your devices", and nuke the devices you no longer use or want Google on. This just logs the device out. The person who uses the device can always log back in.
posted by kschang at 11:36 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


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