The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-31-2008, 01:59 PM
CC CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 3,838
How do spammers get cell phone numbers?

I'd guess at first that there are just random phone dialers that hit any and every kind of phone. But I just got a new phone, same phone number as before, and I'm getting lots of junk messages. Now, no one, except my wife and kids, knows my number. And they're not handing it out to strangers, anyway. I'm thinking that T-Mobile has made their numbers available to folks. Does anyone have any straight dope on how to explain this suddenly increased amount of junk calls I'm receiving, aside from people gaining access through my service provider? Thanks. xo, C.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-31-2008, 02:21 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
I'm with a different company, been with them for at least 4-5 years. I get maybe 3 or 4 junk messages per year.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-31-2008, 03:39 PM
ftg ftg is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
For a brand new number, I would suspect an insider is selling numbers. E.g., someone at the store, with the phone company, etc. Complain to everyone in the chain that someone might be selling phone numbers.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-31-2008, 04:36 PM
Spezza Spezza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
T-Mobile is selling your number. If you read over the fine print of your contract you'll probably see it mentioned somewhere in there.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-31-2008, 04:40 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
It was a landline, but years ago I signed up for phone service, including charges for a non-published number. That very evening I got a call attempting to convince me to change long distance carriers. Nobody, literally, had that number....hell I had to consult a card in my wallet. Thing is I recognized the telemarketer's voice. (it was distinctive) It was the customer service rep I had spoken with at US Worst (Now Qworst) to establish my phone service earlier that day. I had written down the reps not common first name, so I contacted US Worst about this, and took it as far up the chain as I could. Not that they could have given f**k.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-31-2008, 04:49 PM
E. Thorp E. Thorp is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Seattle
Posts: 2,477
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo
US Worst (Now Qworst)
Ha! I just canceled them today.

Maybe it will take awhile for the telemarketers to find me on my cell phone...with T-Mobile...uh-oh...
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-31-2008, 05:18 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spezza
T-Mobile is selling your number. If you read over the fine print of your contract you'll probably see it mentioned somewhere in there.
T-Mobile does NOT sell numbers. I worked for them for four years and they are very tight about giving ANY customer information out, let alone selling it. However, there is no secret about the prefixes that the FCC assigns to various carriers, which is how the spammers know they're tagging cell phones rather than landlines, and once you have the prefixes it's child's play to set up a sequential dialler. How long have you had the number?

The Do Not Call list is so definitely your friend...
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-31-2008, 05:25 PM
mks57 mks57 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Some of it is due to numbers being recycled too quickly. I occasionally get phone calls and SMS messages intended for the previous person who had my cell phone number.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-31-2008, 07:15 PM
Hanna Hanna is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
I've been with T Mobile since 2002 and I can't ever remember getting a spam/telemarketer call. I am on the do not call list, both federal and state, and am generally protective of my number, but I don't think T Mobile is selling numbers.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-31-2008, 07:19 PM
CC CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 3,838
Well, these calls appeared to be cold calls, and I am on the DNC list. But that doesn't stop everyone, as we all know, and most of us (me) don't want to take the time to call them back or file complaints. I'm convinced these calls came to my phone by nefarious methods. T-Mobile may not sell numbers, but that doesn't rule out a rogue salesman doing it for a few bucks. Actually, they weren't calls - they were text messages, pitching one thing or another. I don't even read them - just delete.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-31-2008, 09:35 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo
It was a landline
That's it. Creditors, bill collecters, and telemarketers can get that number (reputable creditors and collectors do so legally and ethically). There is a disclaimer "due to number portability, the provider and type of service may have changed" or words to that effect, on several of the most common contact information verification providers reports.

As a bill collector, I hear "but nobody has this number!" every damn day, and 90% of the time, I got it from your mortgage, credit card and auto loan companies' reports to the assorted credit reporting agencies instead of the usual, skip-tracing tools. Maybe 4% directly from the phone company (utilities don't usually report to the big CBRs, but they do "report" to each other, and currently, my big clients are utilities), and the rest from people you have listed as character references, clubs/groups you have joined, people who listed YOU as a reference, charities, political parties, etc.

Just FYI -- Collection agencies tend to not share contact info, because we're all getting the "secret" info from the same places anyway, and the "Neener neener, my skip-tracers are smarter than yours are!" taunt is more fun than selling lists of people who don't pay their bills to people who want to steal your money and other agencies, thus depriving us of our income.

I promise, lots of somebodies DO have your phone number. Spend 10 minutes checking your number, after googling "reverse phone number", and hitting the first page of links. 50/50 you'll find something, even at your first attempt skip tracing.

Last edited by MadPansy64; 01-31-2008 at 09:39 PM.. Reason: Text messages? Hell, I dunno anything about that, so nevermind.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-31-2008, 09:53 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64

I promise, lots of somebodies DO have your phone number.
In this case the number had been assigned to me for approximately 5 hours. (IIRC, it was many years ago) It wasn't even promised to be working until the next day. The ONLY possible link between my name (they asked for me by name) and that number was the via the phone company. I had given the number to nobody, and wasn't aware the phone was working until the telemarketer/telco rep called.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-31-2008, 10:01 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC
Well, these calls appeared to be cold calls, and I am on the DNC list. But that doesn't stop everyone, as we all know, and most of us (me) don't want to take the time to call them back or file complaints. I'm convinced these calls came to my phone by nefarious methods. T-Mobile may not sell numbers, but that doesn't rule out a rogue salesman doing it for a few bucks. Actually, they weren't calls - they were text messages, pitching one thing or another. I don't even read them - just delete.
Actually SMS spam is even easier--set up a computer with the prefixes programmed in then send texts to every combo of last four digits. Since they know the prefixes belong to cell phones and cell phones can pretty much all get text, Bob's yer uncle. I can pretty much guarantee you that a "rogue salesman" wouldn't be caught dead selling numbers. For one thing, nobody's sliding around the stores in a trench coat offering money for numbers that are basically a matter of public record and if there were such people they wouldn't be able to offer the equivalent of the salesperson's salary--and any sales personnel or customer care agent caught using customer info is summarily fired. In most T-Mobile call centers agents aren't allowed to have paper, pens or their cell phones out at their desks in order to make it difficult to capture SSN's, CC numbers or other useful information.

Customer confidentiality is a huge concern for wireless companies due to liability exposure.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-01-2008, 09:30 AM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: slightly north of center
Posts: 4,264
I learned how common computer-dialed sales were, 9 years ago. We had 2 phone lines, one for calls, one for the computers. When we got the numbers, we managed to get almost consecutive numbers, say 555-1101 and 555-1103.

It was amazing how often we would here the first line ring (it was the computer line, we didn't answer) and then almost immediately the second line would ring. Hmm, I wonder who that could be? We didn't bother answering those either.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:49 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.