Previous phone # owner still giving out the number?

I’ve had my current cell phone number for a bit more than two years. When I first got this number, I wasn’t too surprised that I got calls from people trying to reach the previous holder of the number. But these calls (and text messages) keep coming, and keep coming, after two years.

At first, after one voicemail from an official-sounding person who revealed more information in the message than she probably should have without knowing who was listening, I came to the conclusion that the lady who previously had this number was a domestic violence victim who had left her abuser. In that case, it made sense to me that she probably wasn’t handing out her new phone number willy-nilly to everybody because she didn’t want it getting back to the abuser. I was fine with this, and in any case I typically ignore incoming calls when I don’t recognize the number.

It’s becoming a problem now because it’s beginning to look as if she is still giving out the number. Recent calls and text messages like:

  • Voicemails from a local pharmacy to let her know her prescriptions are ready.

  • A call from a local doctor’s office saying he needs to discuss her son

  • Text messages from a local chiropractor to confirm her appointment yesterday

Due to various text messages popping up, I learned the woman’s name some time ago. It’s a Spanish name, presumably Mexican (the overwhelming number of Hispanics in my community are Mexicans, and a few of the unidentified calls I’ve received were coming from a town in Mexico). When I ran my number through one of those online reverse-lookup sites, expecting to see my own name due to the fact I’d had the number for over a year at that point, the site instead showed me what I assume is her (ex?)husband’s name. So her phone, but under her husband’s name with the cell provider.

And here’s the kicker: This morning I ran another reverse-lookup on the number to see if it was finally showing my name attached to the number.

Nope. It’s now showing the name, a completely different Spanish name, of a man in Virginia, clear on the opposite side of the country from me. The area code is for where I live in Washington. So, along with the previous holder of the number apparently still giving out the number, it now appears that the number is getting passed around for other Mexicans to use.

Is there anything I can do about this, short of just going to my cell provider and requesting a new number?

It is not completely clear what you mean by people passing out and using your number— how do they answer calls and messages? Is there some cloning or spoofing going on?

Regardless, why not change your number? Easier than stopping caller ID spoofing by unknown third parties. Otherwise set your phone/account to ignore known bad numbers and start greylisting suspicious ones.

I would assume using the number to put on forms that require it without actually expecting (or wanting) it to be called back. Hypothetical: Immigrant enters the country and fills out the requisite paperwork, and needs to provide contact information so that they can be located later. But doesn’t *want *to be located. A relative already in the country says, “Here, use my old number.”

My wife’s been plagued, for over a year, by phone calls to her cell number about job applications. As near as we can figure, some woman has been putting my wife’s cell number (which she’s had for 20 years) on applications, maybe to fulfill some requirements for public aid.

This situation doesn’t necessarily mean the woman is still giving out her old number. Those callers might’ve just had the old number on file and she hasn’t updated it with them. It’s easy to forget that.

Why would they do that instead of making one up?

This went on for probably five years with our landline. The person who had it (or maybe never did) is a deadbeat who gave out this number as his home phone, then ran up bills that he didn’t pay. Some of the calls were from individuals, but most of them were from creditors and collection agencies looking for their money. It finally stopped, so perhaps he was finally thrown in jail.

I have a similarly situation with my current cell, have had it for 4 years and am still getting cell phone messages addressed to the previous person who owned it who owed a lot of money to various companies. Also every Christmas I get a bunch of MERRY CHRISTMAS texts from a bunch of unknown numbers, and judging by the content of some of the texts the person is still actually interacting and hanging out with them, which makes me wonder why she isn’t telling her friends about her new number.

Yep, change your number. A short term hassle as opposed to 2 years of grief.

Best guess? Not realizing that their old number is going to get recycled to somebody else fairly quickly, and thinking it’s a “safe”, unused number to use.

I suppose it’s possible that this guy in Virginia “made up” the number, but why he would use a Washington area code to do so is beyond me.

I was also kind of puzzled that my name is apparently still not associated with my number, but then I remembered that, when I got married, we just added a phone to my wife’s existing cell provider account. So my name isn’t formally connected to the number (except for my name on the card paying the bill).

Searching on my name on this particular lookup site, I’m there, but the home address is nearly 7 years out of date, and the “current phone” number is 14 years out of date. I didn’t think I was keeping that low a profile …

The doctor’s call about her son came from the big hospital here, which is part of the even bigger outfit that has, over the last several years, absorbed virtually every medical facility around here under its umbrella. My own wife has spent a lot of time in and out of various doctors, and each and every time she checks in to one of these places, they pull up her file and verbally read off her address and phone number to confirm their records are correct. They would do the same for this other lady, so she must have confirmed that the old number was still her current number. That would unlikely be a mistake due to language, because these places all have somebody on hand to translate Spanish (because of huge Hispanic population here), and in any case the overwhelming majority of the errant text messages and voicemails I get for her - the personal ones, along with the business-related ones - are in English, so she clearly speaks English.

The other messages (pharmacy, chiropractor) popped up out of the blue after 18+ months, with no previous messages from those places. They weren’t ongoing things from before she gave up this number.

I’ve had my phone number since 2005 and still get occasionally calls for Nick and Cynthia. Last week I gave my number when I checked out at Best Buy and they asked if I was Cynthia Othername or me.

Honestly I just answer and calmly tell the person (debt collector, pharmacy, church, school) who’s calling that this hasn’t been Nick and Cynthia’s number for over a decade now and I don’t have their new number and I don’t know who they are, and they need to take my number out of their system and no one’s ever given me grief about it. And I don’t get any more calls - from THAT organization at least.

It’s not a scam it’s just lazy people.

I was always amused by the collection people asking if I knew where the guy lived or what his number is. How in the hell would I know that?

My pharmacy still has my old landline number, which I haven’t used for about a year and a half (I should really update it but haven’t gotten around to so doing). So that may be what’s happening here as well.

My old phone number had area code 917, which is one of several NYC area codes. Originally it was a cell only area code but now you will sometimes find landline businesses with that code.

There was a NYC business- some sort of low end recording studio -that had my phone number except with a 914 area code which is for Westchester County, right outside of NYC. But their physical location, at least on paper, was in NYC. Between the easy misdial and the psychological assumption that an NYC business would have an NYC number, I got a LOT of wrong number calls for them.

But one call stands out.

One day I answer my phone and this guy just starts screaming at me. “This is MY phone number! Why are you answering my phone? What kind of scam are you pulling? How did you set this up and why are you answering my phone!”

Yes, it was the guy that had the phone number similar to mine. Which reflected in the caller ID, it was the number he was calling me from. The idiot actually forgot his own number. I was like “Dude, YOUR phone number is in 914. Mine is in 917. I got a quick mumbled apology before he hung up.

There was a period of about a month where my parents were receiving calls from young men looking for “Janet.” This puzzled them until Mom had a sudden thought and asked one, “You didn’t get her number in a bar or something, did you?” He rather sheepishly admitted that he had.

She told me, “She must have been quite a looker because they all sounded so disappointed.” Janet must have switched to another number because they stopped coming.

I knew someone who had that issue in college. They kept getting plagued by calls from friends of the prior number owner. It went on for months. They finally began telling callers that XX didn’t want contact with them anymore, otherwise they’d have given them their new number.

It didn’t take long for the prior number owner to call them and ask them to stop. The wrong number calls stopped soon after. :smiley:

Rejection # to hand out at bars: 605-475-6968

Goes straight to voicemail for the rejection hotline with a humorous list of reasons why you were given this number.

I used to say wrong number, etc. but my new method, “He (or she) is no longer with us.” Said dead-pan everyone assumes a person died- stops all people from ever calling again. It even worked with a telemarketer when my spouse had just stepped outside on the deck for a moment. The all-purpose not-a-lie solution to end unwanted calls!

I imagine a scenario similar to this:

GUY IN VIRGINIA: Hey, Joe, I’m making up a fake phone number. What’s the area code for Washington? (thinking District of Columbia)

JOE (who used to live in Seattle): Use my old one, 206.

GUY IN VA: Thanks!