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Old 06-25-2019, 07:59 AM
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Voice mail on unactived phone. How?


I was in the process of replacing the SIM card on my phone. (Long story.) It's an LG L70 smartphone that uses Tracfone.

Immediately after putting the SIM card in and powering on I saw a notice for a voice mail. And I hadn't activated the SIM card yet (nor linked it to my account). Technically, this phone did not have a phone number.

Checking the calling phone number revealed that it's one of those "The IRS wants money in the form of gift cards." deals.

So 3 things:

1. How do they manage to "call" my phone when it doesn't have a real phone connection yet?

2. This happened immediately. Are these folks prowling thru the cell networks looking for fresh phones to annoy?

3. I can't seem to delete the voice mail notification. It just won't erase. How do I get rid of this?

(The idea that someone would fall for this is amazing. How on Earth would the "IRS" know that this phone belongs to me when it hadn't been connected to my phone account yet. And even if it had been they don't have my cell phone number nor any idea who I am other than name, which isn't enough. And yet apparently people do fall for it.)

Last edited by ftg; 06-25-2019 at 08:00 AM.
  #2  
Old 06-25-2019, 08:46 AM
Dewey Finn is offline
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My guess is that the phone number was recycled and the voicemail message was left when it was attached to the previous person.
  #3  
Old 06-25-2019, 09:25 AM
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Voo-doo-woo?
The email message was sent through a Wi-Fi using message sender. Google it there are 100s of them. They are free and don't require the phone to have an active service plan.
Don't know how to delete the symbol except, turning the phone off and removing the SIM card.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 06-25-2019 at 09:26 AM.
  #4  
Old 06-25-2019, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
My guess is that the phone number was recycled and the voicemail message was left when it was attached to the previous person.
This was my phone and a brand new SIM. The "old" phone number is the "new" phone number. No "previous" person or anything involved. NOTE: the new SIM card had not been activated in any way. No phone number of any sort was associated yet. Cell phone service except for 911 and such was impossible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek
Voo-doo-woo?
The email message was sent through a Wi-Fi using message sender. Google it there are 100s of them. They are free and don't require the phone to have an active service plan.
Don't know how to delete the symbol except, turning the phone off and removing the SIM card.
WiFi was off.

Plus there's still the oddity of the immediacy of the voice mail. I had just inserted the card, turned the phone on and there it was with a date/time of the current minute.

If it were possible in general to spam like this, why aren't we all getting thousands every minute? Activated or not?

I have tried removing/swapping SIM cards (which requires rebooting). Put the new, working, one back in. It's still there.
  #5  
Old 06-25-2019, 02:51 PM
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Could it be that the message was sent to the old phone number, and arrived just before you pulled the old SIM out? In other words it was on the phone but you hadn't noticed it yet.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:09 PM
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Most likely it's NOT an actual voicemail, but a bit of malware that was already installed on that phone, pretending to be the standard voicemail app. TO get rid of the notification you'll probably have to uninstall that app using a third-party uninstaller (it's probably hidden or blocked from android's built-in uninstaller). Better yet, flash the phone with the stock rom from a reputable source (e.g. xda-developers) since there could be other nastiness in there like keyloggers (to capture login info) or scrapers to harvest info from your address book ('more targets for the spammers').
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:11 PM
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Just to clarify, voicemail isnít stored or processed by your phone. The number was provisioned on the cell network, someone called it, and without an active phone the carrier sent it to voicemail. The SIM card is what ties a phone number to a phone. The number exists independently of it.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
Could it be that the message was sent to the old phone number, and arrived just before you pulled the old SIM out? In other words it was on the phone but you hadn't noticed it yet.
Hmm. Note again. There is no "old phone" number. There was an old SIM. But the phone was in airplane mode with no cell service possible for several days until I could replace the SIM.

This is the only spam voice mail I've gotten on this phone in 3.5 years. I keep the phone off/in airplane mode almost all the time. I only use it for emergencies, traveling, or I'm out and Mrs. FtG might need to contact me.

Since the SIM card wasn't associated with an account or phone number yet, how would an "old" voicemail show up then and not earlier?

If they could do this thru "normal" methods once, why aren't they doing it all the time?

It feels like some exploit that works only on new phones/SIM cards that aren't activated yet. So the window is small.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleophus View Post
Just to clarify, voicemail isnít stored or processed by your phone. The number was provisioned on the cell network, someone called it, and without an active phone the carrier sent it to voicemail. The SIM card is what ties a phone number to a phone. The number exists independently of it.
Tremendously independently in this case.

People, pay attention.

This SIM card was NOT yet tied to any phone number, let alone mine. This popped up BEFORE I set the SIM card up to tie to my account and phone number.

The spammers were not trying to reach MY phone number because this phone did not have MY phone number (or any phone number) yet. This voice mail went to a completely unactivated, no real cell service, no phone number phone.
  #10  
Old 06-26-2019, 06:47 AM
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@ftg - I think the part that's confusing people here is:

Quote:
This SIM card was NOT yet tied to any phone number, let alone mine.
I've never heard of this before. All the sim cards I've ever had regardless of carrier, whether domestic or international (temporary for travel), are all linked to a phone number.

Its unusual that yours doesn't have a number attached to it.
  #11  
Old 06-26-2019, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMANCANADA View Post
@ftg - I think the part that's confusing people here is:



I've never heard of this before. All the sim cards I've ever had regardless of carrier, whether domestic or international (temporary for travel), are all linked to a phone number.

Its unusual that yours doesn't have a number attached to it.
This is how Tracfone works for "BYOP". Bring your own phone. You have a phone. You buy a suitable SIM card from Tracfone. Insert card. (At this point it's just a card in a phone.) Then you jump thru hoops to activate things, including assigning or transferring a phone number. Before that last phase the phone/SIM is not activated in any way shape or form. No real cell service, no phone number.

During the activation process I was regularly checking the phone status menu and it listed no phone number (and no service) until mine was transferred.

Note also that Tracfone doesn't run a cell phone network. They piggyback on other carriers. So while my normal voice mail is handled by Tracfone, pre-activation who knows what the deal is. In this case the actual carrier is T-Mobile. (And the phone's motherboard is from a MetroPCS phone. It started life as a Verizon phone. It's a frankenphone. I call it Abbie Something.)

(Note that even an unactivated phone can access limited services like 911. So it is talking to cell towers.)
  #12  
Old 06-26-2019, 08:25 AM
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I don't know about Tracfones, but I've gotten new SIM cards before. It takes a while to transfer your number (an hour or so sometimes) and during that time, your phone still has a phone number.

The SIM had a phone number attached to it, even if you didn't know what it was. Then you set it up for your personal phone number after you put the SIM in your phone. But before you got it, somebody called the number your SIM was originally associated with, and left a voicemail because the SIM wasn't in a phone yet. Then when you put it into your phone, it notified you of the voicemail.
  #13  
Old 06-26-2019, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for clarifying. I've never dealt wth (or even heard of) Tracfone before.
  #14  
Old 06-26-2019, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
I don't know about Tracfones, but I've gotten new SIM cards before. It takes a while to transfer your number (an hour or so sometimes) and during that time, your phone still has a phone number.
So you're saying that the phone temporarily had a ghost number and ghost service*? Yet the phone info menu showed neither???

Remember Tracfone is prepaid. No payment, no service.
  #15  
Old 06-26-2019, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
So you're saying that the phone temporarily had a ghost number and ghost service*? Yet the phone info menu showed neither???

Remember Tracfone is prepaid. No payment, no service.
Look. Your phone reported a call. A call was therefore made. It had to be made to something. Therefore, there must have been some number the call was made to. Your phone with the sim card recognized that the call had been made. The QED conclusion is that the number called was somehow related to the phone, whether or not you knew it.

When all other conclusions have been demonstrated to be not possible, the remaining conclusion, no matter how improbably, must be true. So, unless/until you can produce a conclusion that can be demonstrated to be possible OTHER than the one proposed (your new SIM card had a number associated with it, even if you didn't know that), you probably should go with that.
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