Why did my phone line call the cops?

I get my phone and DSL service from AT&T. I use a 2-Wire DSL modem, and I don’t have any telephones plugged in.

About a month ago, I chopped up my phone line while mowing my lawn. It hadn’t been buried very deep, part of it got exposed previously by a tiller, and I forgot about it when I was mowing. AT&T sent a tech out to repair the wire and bury it deeper.

A week later, at 5 a.m., the cops came to my door. They said someone had dialed 911 from my phone number. They said the call come from [my phone number], registered to [my name]. I explained that everyone was asleep and that I have a telephone line but no telephone. And they replied, “Oh, you must have AT&T. This happens all the time.”

So what the hell happened? If my unused phone line is dialing 911 all by itself, is it also dialing every phone number in Zaire?

I don’t know, but I just googled “at&t 911” and got some interesting hits. It looks like AT&T has “improved” the 911 service over clunky old land lines. Apparently they improved it so much that people having emergencies in Salt Lake City were getting help from emergency services.

In Seattle.

Is this line for “naked” DSL with no phone service?

It should be impossible for you to initiate a call to 911 or any other number on a naked line - there’s normally no dial tone, although some states are requiring “soft” dial tone to enable 911 calls just in case someone thinks to unplug the DSL bridge and plug in a phone during an emergency. :dubious:

It certainly sounds like there are problems in AT&T’s systems if they’re initiating false 911 calls.

Nope, it’s not the naked service. I should probably switch to save a few bucks. When I bought the house, I ordered phone and DSL. Then the phone got unplugged when I was remodeling the kitchen. I lost the phone and never missed it, so now I have voice phone service and no phone handsets.

ETA: I’m in TX. I don’t know what the 911 laws are here.

Someone spoofed your DSL service telephone number?

Ironic side note here. When someone pounded on the door at 5 a.m., I entered 911 into my cell phone and had my thumb ready on the call button. My wife did the same on her cell phone and stayed near the babies’ bedrooms. So I was a little confused in my already sleepy daze when the cops were asking me who called 911. I think my initial response was “but I didn’t even press Send yet.”

You ever see Minority Report?

For some COs, a damaged or cut line will result in an automatic notification going out to 911. Your line might have been repaired incorrectly or had a temporary glitch which kicked off the system. The call doesn’t go from your phone, it goes from the CO to the dispatch center.

And in a lot of places, even a disconnected phone line can be used to call 911.

It’s a safety measure, especially in rural areas – if phone service is suddenly interrupted there could be a fire or something.

That’s exactly what I was thinking.

I don’t know what a CO is, but that makes perfect sense. I’m surprised the responding officers weren’t told that it was an automatic notification. They thought someone had actually dialed 911.

And yes, the line was probably repaired incorrectly. My Internet service was spotty for a while until AT&T took another look at the wire.

Thanks for the replies!